Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The Bear and Callooh! Callay! to perform at Bama Theatre

Muscle Shoals-based band The Bear strives to blend elements of country, folk and indie-pop to create a sound that transcends these typical genre descriptions and fits into all of them, and yet none of them, at the same time.

“There are elements of several different genres in our music, so one genre doesn’t encompass our sound,” band member Nathan Pitts said. “We aren’t really doing anything overtly experimental, but we don’t feel a need to confine ourselves to one style of music.”

The Bear and Tuscaloosa’s own Callooh! Callay! will perform Friday at the Bama Theatre’s Acoustic Nights.

The Bear, formed in 2006, originally featured just Pitts on guitar and vocals and Louisa Murray on banjo and vocals. Not long after, Ben Tanner joined the band on keys, followed by Kyle Minckler on percussion, Ben Stedman on bass and Daniel Stoddard on pedal steel.

The band is based out of Muscle Shoals, Ala., a city famous for its contributions to the music industry and for its own bluesy, soulful sound. Although The Bear’s music doesn’t quite fit that mold, Pitts said the band enjoys performing there.

“To me, playing in Tuscaloosa isn’t drastically different [from playing in Muscle Shoals],” Pitts said. “Both cities have a great core of musicians and supporters who come out for shows. There always seems to be an energetic crowd.”

The Bear released their second full-length album, “Oversees Then Under,”in March, a followup to their 2011 self-titled debut album.

“I think the new album is a little more polished than our first,” Murray said. “There is a little more pop influence, and I think we experimented more with recording techniques. Also, the band has had time to grow a little tighter and more mature, and hopefully that shows.”

Pitts and Murray said they draw inspiration from a variety of sources, including the music they listen to and the books they read.

“I’m a pretty avid reader, so I get a lot of inspiration from my favorite writers,” Murray said. “Lately I’ve been reading a lot of Haruki Murakami and Flannery O’Connor.”

Adam Morrow, vocalist and guitarist for Tuscaloosa-based Callooh! Callay!, said he is a fan of The Bear and looks forward to seeing them at Acoustic Nights.

“The Bear are one of the best bands in Alabama, which is really saying something these days,” Morrow said. “[Their new album] is absolutely incredible. It’s ambitious and beautiful and catchy”

Callooh! Callay!, long-time favorites of the Tuscaloosa music scene, is comprised of Morrow, as well as Natalie Jensen on bass, keys and vocals, and Bowen Robertson on drums. Friday, Morrow and Jensen will share the stage, and they’ll be joined by a surprise guest for the second half of their set.

For the members of Callooh! Callay!, the Greensboro Room at the Bama Theatre holds sentimental value. Morrow said the band played some of its first “serious” shows there, one of which was recorded and put online as the band’s first release.

“It has been some time since we played Acoustic Night at the Bama, but that room is really important to us, as a band and as fans of music,” Morrow said. “It’s a listening room, somewhere where the music is the focus, and I think that lends itself to really rewarding experiences for both the artist and the audience.”

Morrow said for Acoustic Nights the band plans on making some slight changes to its usual set.

“It’s a fun challenge, to strip away all of the noise and rethink how to present the song in a way that may be seen as a little more pure,” Morrow said. “We hope that maybe leaving more quiet spaces will let our songs breathe a little more for the night. We also try and work up a cover or two for these shows – we almost never do that for the full band show – so it’s fun to pick something out and go after it.”

The Bear and Callooh! Callay! will perform at the Bama Theatre’s Acoustic Nights Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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