Randall Bramblett writes songs about God & the devil - Sentinel-Tribune: Bsaf

Randall Bramblett writes songs about God & the devil

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Posted: Tuesday, August 25, 2015 10:41 am

Growing up in the swampy regions of southern Georgia, Randall Bramblett got an early start in music — piano at 4.

And he sang in church.

Saxophone and guitar came later. By junior high he was playing in a band “making a little money on the weekends” something he continued well after he’d moved north to Athens, Georgia for college.

He’d already tapped into the soul and blues sounds coming over the airwaves, the black radio station. “This amazing stuff was coming out at night,” Bramblett said in a recent telephone interview.

Much later he heard Dylan and other folk songwriters. By then he was in college, nearing the end of his studies in religion and psychology, and it all jelled.

“It had never known that you could write about anything as long as it was powerful,” he said,.

With those streams — toss in some Beatles to boot — flowing through his imagination, it‘s not surprising he’s harvested a career’s worth of powerful songs.

Bramblett with guest Geoff Achison will perform a Saturday Main Stage show Sept. 12 at 4:30 p.m. at the Black Swamp Arts Festival.

The religion wasn’t abandoned, not with songs like “John the Baptist” and “God Was in the Water,” a song covered by one of his biggest booster’s Bonnie Raitt.

Bramblett fashioned a career as a solo artist but also as a much sought after sideman, playing sax, guitar and keyboards with Steve Winwood, Gov’t Mule, Gregg Allman, Widespread Panic and Levon Helm.

Now he’s focusing on his own work.

His forthcoming “Devil Music” digs deep into those mysterious sounds wafting into his south Georgia bedroom. “It’s different from anything I’ve done,” he said

“Devil Music” explores a place where desire and menace keep company, a prowling sound with growled vocals s and ripping blues riffs.

The session doesn’t sound like it’s a collection of blues retreads. Bramblett said his ear is always tuned to what’s going on now, including the beats used in hip hop music.

That all feeds into his dedication to the art of song writing. “It’s the mystery and awe of the thing coming together,” he said. “It’s kind of like being an archeologist and discovering something you didn’t know was there, and it’s turning out to be a little jewel.”

Bramblett said he gathers “feelings, vignettes and phrases.”

“I don’t know where it comes from I just have to get in the mode of receiving different kinds of information,” he said.

The mystery remains even after the song has come together. “A lot of time I don’t know what the song is about.”

Then “putting it together in a studio is a joy,” he said. “The recording process is a joy to me, like putting a puzzle together.”

Bramblett said working with a crew of sympathetic musicians is essential to the process. “All the people in my band bring their own creativity. That adds another layer. ... If you’ve got people who really bring it and know what serves the song, that’s a beautiful thing,” he said.

Same holds true when performing live. His musicians are great improvisors who know how to stretch out but “keep the song in the forefront,” he said.

That’s true of Australian singer-songwriter Geoff Achison, who is joining Bramblett for a U.S. swing that includes the Bowling Green festival. “Geoff understands what I’m doing. It adds a whole other thing.”

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