Brad Armstrong, Will Stewart

Brad Armstrong

Will Stewart

Thu · May 2, 2019

Doors: 9:00 pm / Show: 10:00 pm

$6.00 - $8.00

This event is 21 and over

The Nick is a Private Club - Membership Card ($5 Per Year) & Valid ID to Enter


Brad Armstrong
Brad Armstrong
Indie Folk Rock Americana from Red Hook NY

In the early days, there was a rock and roll band. It is a familiar story. Man meets Guitar, Man meets another Man with Bass Guitar, they meet Man with Drums, set out to change the face of rock and roll as it has existed these many years. Then there are ten or twelve years of many shows, many records, not many dollars. The face of rock and roll remains unchanged. It is a familiar story. In this incarnation of the Rock and Roll Story, the name of the band is 13ghosts. The name of the city is Birmingham, Alabama. The name of the Man is Brad Armstrong. There are other men, certainly, but they shall not be named. Not for bitterness. For love.

13ghosts make six records between 2000 and 2012. There are some gold nuggets. There are some lead ingots. It is a familiar story. In 2005, by some divinely comedic providence, they are noticed by Pitchfork, and they are reviewed. Upon their little album is bestowed a High Score. Points are tallied. It is enough. It is a miracle. This is not a familiar story. They receive reams and reams of national press on their third album, Cicada. Or if not reams, certainly pages. It is championed, it is great. They do a national tour.

Then, one dark and stormy night, their record label receives a cease and desist order, via certified mail, from the Bob Marley Estate. 13ghosts has recorded a version of “Three Little Birds” in which Armstrong has added a couple of verses to the song, to frame it in a new and different way. This is Not Acceptable. This is Diluting Mr. Marley’s Vision. There is discussion of a fee to overlook this dilution. It is a large fee. Too large for an indie label. 13ghosts are informed of pending litigation if the record is not pulled. So, Red Eye Distribution pulls it, it is gone, the record is killed, and that is that. Goodbye Cicada. And, while their subsequent records continue to enjoy critical praise from all corners of the internet and beyond, there are no more shining beginnings. The prom queen has been doused in blood. It is ugly to look at. It is a familiar story. Discontent breeds among the troops. Rations are thin. Tack and gruel. Disillusionment settles in like gout. There is bitterness. There are egos. Of that I am certain. There always are.

Armstrong decides, in 2012, that he has Had Enough. Turns out the horizon is not without end, as he had believed all these years. He upends his life and moves to the Hudson Valley with his wife and daughters. They get a dog. He settles into carpentry. He plays sometimes. He is still a member of the Dexateens, a staple of southern garage rock, and they still tour the land. They are wearing it out, in fact. He tells himself he is satisfied. He tells himself that it is Enough. That the simple, uncomplicated life of a man playing guitar in a rock and roll band and building things is what he has always wanted.

But, alas. It is not Enough. It is never Enough. His discontentment begins to return. There are albums yet to be written, you see. He writes his first solo record. It is called Empire. There are no expectations. It is released with zero fanfare, zero press, zero touring. Zero physical product, even. Yet, somehow, some of the songs find a home in some pretty widely watched television shows. There are questions. Like, where can we find this record? The people do not know. So the people Bit Torrent the record. There are links. They are clicked. Torrentially. Though the money does not flow in, Armstrong starts doing shows again, playing with folks like John Moreland and Azure Ray. Charlie Parr. It is like a revelation. Armstrong, for sixteen years, has been playing the wrong rooms. These new rooms are filled with people who Listen. With Ears. These people have Mouths which are not making sounds while his hands skitter and clack over the neck of his guitar. He is back. He is All In.

In 2018, Cornelius Chapel decides they want to re-issue Empire on vinyl. Armstrong says, Hey, hang on, how about issuing this next record instead? Cornelius Chapel says, How about we do them both? Armstrong says, Ok, that would be very nice, thank you. He makes the record. It is called I Got No Place Remembers Me. He whispers a prayer to himself that it is a lie, and, standing on the cliff at the edge of the world, he heaves the record out into the void, arcing, spinning, disappearing finally down into the darkness.

I Got No Place Remembers Me is due out in 2019 from Cornelius Chapel Records
Will Stewart
Will Stewart
Rock from Birmingham AL

In March 2016, Will Stewart headed back home to Alabama.

He'd been away for years, living in Nashville while earning his stripes as a songwriter, frontman, and lead guitarist. His fans reached as far away as London, where The Guardian — one of the U.K.'s most widely-reached papers — hailed his work.

Still, something kept drawing him down South. He'd grown up there, surrounded by the twang of classic country music and the stomp of rootsy rock & roll. Alabama was a complicated place, its history filled with dark characters and cultural clashes, but it was oddly compelling, too. It was home. Unable to resist the pull, Stewart returned to Birmingham. There, after a decade away, he rediscovered his muse: the Modern South, whose characters, complexities, open spaces, and strange beauty are all channeled into Stewart's full-length solo debut, County Seat.

Released in 2017, County Seat is a guitar-fueled Americana record, caught somewhere between the worlds of country and electrified rock. The songs are roomy and lush, the result of an inspired — led by Stewart, who handles singing and guitar-playing duties — whose members recorded all nine tracks in two short days. There are swirls of swooning pedal steel, layers of vocal harmony, and the pastoral punch of a songwriter looking to turn the landscape of his home state into music. Close your eyes while playing songs like "Brush Arbor," whose title references Dennis Covington's Salvation on Sand Mountain, and you'll hear Stewart's Alabama home.

County Seat is also a record about time. On the album's title track, Stewart sings about a lonely man in his twilight years, hoping to find some sort of transcendence from an otherwise mundane, day-to-day life. During the nostalgic "Sipsey," Stewart longs for the wonder and innocence of young adulthood. And with "Heaven Knows Why," he takes a look at his own vices, realizing the hour has come to leave some of those habits behind. Like Stewart's own move back to Birmingham, County Seat finds its narrator in constant motion, hoping to weather the mysteries and murkiness of the 21st century South by holding on to a shred of hope.

Co-produced with Les Nuby (who also engineered and mixed the album) and recorded in a series of live takes, County Seat nods to a number of songwriters who sing about the beauty of their homeland without glossing over its imperfections. There are electrified moments influenced by Neil Young, guitar arpeggios suited for R.E.M., turns-of-phrase worthy of Bob Dylan, and the modern-day folksy charm of Hiss Golden Messenger. On an album that evokes some heavy starpower, though, Will Stewart shines the brightest. This is his first full-length release as a solo artist: a rallying cry from a Son of the South who, having returned home after a long trip, looks at his birthplace with renewed eyes.
Venue Information:
The Nick
2514 10th Ave S
Birmingham, AL, 35205