music / Columns

Jam Central Station: ALO

June 24, 2017 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

The members of ALO have an extensive history together. The roots of the band go all the way back to the late 80’s when guitarist Dan Lebowitz, keyboardist Zach Gill, and bassist Steve Adams were in high school. They formed a band called Django with another friend that was a drummer, going as far as to record an album. They all went off to college together and continued the band, with ALO drummer David Brogan filling in as a part of Django for a while. Django successfully toured both the southern and western states, although they never developed a very large following.

Following the end of Django, Gill, Adams, and Lebowitz reconvened with another drummer to form Magnum Family. This project didn’t last very long, and it soon morphed into the first version of ALO. They called themselves Animal Liberation Orchestra & The Free Range Horns, which featured the three core members, Jon Nathan on drums, and a horn section. After garnering some local success and releasing an independent album, Gill, Lebowitz, and Adams went on tour with drummer Rob Binkley for a more intimate tour. When they returned to California, they eliminated the horn section, brought on drummer Shree Shyam Das, and shortened their name to simply ALO. This early version of ALO released a pair of albums independently before Das moved on. In 2002, they reunited with earlier drummer David Brogan and ALO finally had a steady lineup.

Like so many other bands, ALO cut their teeth on the road. They released albums independently and toured in a van. However, they also had a friend on the rise. The band had gone to school with singer/songwriter Jack Johnson, who was beginning to make a name for himself. The band found themselves on the road with Johnson and frequently collaborating together on stage. They even recorded a reworked version of their song “Girl I Wanna Lay You Down” with Johnson on vocals. The collaborations were good for both artists, with Gill joining Johnson’s band and splitting time between the two projects. Gill added a funky flair to Johnson’s live performance, while ALO was able to attach themselves to Johnson’s rising star and get some more mainstream recognition.

In 2006, the band signed with Johnson’s Brushfire records and immediately re-released their Fly between Falls album. This was followed by a massive tour where they tour internationally with Johnson as well as playing shows with the Dave Matthews Band while seeing bigger audiences at their own headlining shows. They entered the studio to begin recording a new album in 2006, and Roses & Clover was released in May of 2007. The album was recorded in just about two weeks and featured new songs that hadn’t been road tested. They held a sold out CD release party at the Fillmore and then hit the road to support the new album.

The more mainstream sound allowed the band to be picked up by radio stations nationwide, while their eclectic roots and road record landed them spots on festivals around the country. They toured with Brett Dennen and New Monsoon while also hitting up festivals such as Wakarusa, High Sierra, Las Tortugas, and the Monterey Music Festival. Afterwards they headed to Brazil with a handful of other acts before heading home for their New Years show in San Francisco.

ALO members also found success on their own. Gill toured with Jack Johnson and also released a solo album. Lebowitz and Adams collaborated with Brett Dennen, and Brogan released a solo album while also working with New Monsoon. Adams also spent time playing bass for the band’s friends Tea Leaf Green. Somehow, between their work in their side projects and touring with ALO, the band had time to head into the studio and record their next album. Man of the World finally saw the light of day in February of 2010. The opened for Galactic, moving back to some of their funk roots, and they went on an extended tour with Jack Johnson. They also headlined throughout strongholds on their own tour during that spring. They closed out 2010 with another headlining New Years Eve run before hitting Jam Cruise for the third time.

In 2012 the band released their 4th Brushfire album, Sounds Like This. The album was another solid success and continued to solidify their fan base. “Dead Still Dance” has become a staple on Sirius/XM radio’s Jam On station, and they kept playing theatres and festivals around the country. After taking a short break they released Tangled in Time in 2015. While it’s a little surprising that their funky rock/acoustic blend hasn’t made any mainstream waves, they’ve had no trouble finding success as a touring band and with various other projects (including as touring members of other bands). While other commitments have sometimes limited their ability to tour extensively, they haven’t lost any fans and are always a band that should be checked out live.

Hulaween Announces Lineup
String Cheese Incident’s annual Hulaween festival released their first lineup details for this year. Along with 3 nights of The String Cheese Incident, the festival will include Bassnectar, Ween, GRiZ, The Disco Biscuits, Portugal The Man, Lettuce, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Greensky Bluegrass, Benevento/Russ Duo, TAUK, Moon Taxi, and many other great acts.

The Festy Experience adds artists
The Festy Experience added some great artists to their 2017 lineup. The new additions include Ani DiFranco, Elephant Revival, Beats Antique, Joan Osborne, The Shook Twins, and others. This is in addition to multiple sets from The Infamous Stringdusters, Drive By Truckers, Sam Bush Band, Jerry Douglas Band, and many other great artists.

Electric Forest I
June 22-25
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, My Morning Jacket, The Revivalists, Lotus, Big Gigantic, The Infamous Stringdusters, Lettuce, Matisyahu, The Motet

Electric Forest II
June 29-July 2
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lotus, Big Gigantic, Nahko & Medicine for the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Lettuce, Matisyahu, The Motet

Friendly Gathering
June 29-July 1
Waitsfield, VT
Twiddle, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Turkuaz, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Moon Hooch

High Sierra
June 29-July 2
Quincy, CA
Trey Anastasio Band, Ween, Galactic, Mike Gordon, Fruition

June 30-July 2
Turin, NY
Moe., Blackberry Smoke, Fishbone, Railroad Earth, Ryan Montbleau, Twiddle, Floodwood, Kung Fu

Camp Bisco
July 13-15
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
The Disco Biscuits (6 sets), Bassnectar, GRiZ, Pretty Lights, Lotus, Twidle, Turkuaz, Electric Beethoven, Break Science, Beats Antique, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Werks

Northwest String Summit
July 13-16
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Del McCoury Band, JJ Grey & Mofro, Elephant Revival, Fruition, Turkuaz,

Levitate Music & Arts Fest
July 8-9
Marshfield, MA
Dispatch, Umphrey’s McGee, Ziggy Marley, Lake Street Drive, The Revivalists, Twiddle, JJ Grey & Mofro, Rubblebucket

Deep Roots Mountain Revival
July 20-22
Marvins Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Brandi Carlile, Lettuce, Yonder Mountain String Band, Dr. Dog, The Motet, JJ Grey & Mofro, Moon Taxi, White Denim, TAUK

Floydfest 17: Freedom
July 26-30
Floyd, VA
Michael Franti & Spearhead, St. Paul & Broken Bones, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Shovels & Rope, Turkuaz, TUAK, Fruition

Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival
August 11-13
Alta, WY
The Infamous Stringdusters, Sam Bush Band, Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

August 18-20
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass, Sam Bush Band, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Fruition, Joshua Davis, Larry Keel Experience, Billy Strings, The Accidentals, The Crane Wives

August 24-27
Arrington, VA
The Avett Brothers, Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, The String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, moe, Greensky Bluegrass, John Butler Trio, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, TAUK

Grand Point North
September 16-17
Waterfront Park
Burlington, VT
Trey Anastasio Band, Grace Potter, Dawes, Joseph, Son Little, Hurray for the Riff Raff

The Festy Experience
October 5-8
Infinity Downs
Arrington, VA
The Infamous Stringdusters, Ani DiFranco, Drive By Truckers, Elephant Revival, Sam Bush Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, Jerry Douglas, Cabinet, Billy Strings, Beats Antique

Hillberry Music Festival
October 12-15
Eureka Springs, AR
Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Dumpstaphunk, Dirtfoot

Suwannee Roots Revival
October 12-15
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Wood Brothers, Peter Rowan Dharma Blues featuring Jack Cassidy, Donna the Buffalo, Steep Canyon Rangers

Hangtown Music Festival
October 26-29
Placerville, CA
Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Dark Star Orchestra, Leftover Salmon, Turkuaz

Suwannee Hulaween
October 27-29
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
The String Cheese Incident, Ween, Bassnectar, The Disco Biscuits, Portugal The Man, Lettuce, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Benevento/Russo Duo, Greensky Bluegrass, Kamasi Washington, TAUK, Dumpstafunk, Spafford

Dominican Holidaze
December 1-5
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, The Disco Biscuits, GRiZ, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, TAUK, The Motet, Lotus, Spafford

Strings & Sol
December 8-12
Now Sapphire
Puerto Morelos, MX
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition

Gov’t Mule’s Island Exodus
January 13-17
Jewel Paradise Cove
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Gov’t Mule, Soulive, Nikki Bluhm, Marcus King, Ron Holloway

Jam in the Sand
January 18-22
Jewel Paradise Cove
Ruanaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, Hot Tuna, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Jam Cruise
January 17-22
Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Maceo Parker, Lotus, Lettuce, Gramatik, Keller Williams, The New Mastersounds, Dumpstaphunk, Turkuaz, The Main Squeeze

Panic En La Playa
January 26-30
Riviera Maya, Mexico

June 7-10
Manchester, TN

Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!