By Kimber Fountain
Any attempts to rigidly define the genre known as “Classic Rock” are about as futile as trying to label the corners of a circle. The lines are blurred from the get-go with the word “classic,” which implies music from a specific time period – in this case the 1960s and 70’s – but there was a lot of music made in that time frame that does not even breach the border of consideration as Classic Rock. To add to the confusion, some have chosen to broaden that generational window as time has passed, furthermore, even select, modern bands who exude the Classic Rock sound (whatever that is) have been labeled as such, although the parameters used are widely open for interpretation and personal taste.
In fact, pretty much the only thing that can be said definitively about this particular genre is that ‘you know it when you hear it.’ But if dusting off your uncle’s old vinyl sounds about as appealing as turning the dial on an antique radio in a valiant attempt to get that needle exactly where it needs to be to pick up the 70’s radio station, never fear. The Alan Fox Band can singlehandedly fulfill all of your Classic Rock curiosities from the comfort of the 21st century.
That being said, the first thing that must be established about the Alan Fox Band is that their output would be much more aptly described as a revival, as opposed to a replication, or regurgitation of the hits of years past – which it is not. “We play it how we feel it,” says guitarist Donnie Pendleton. “We don’t try to emulate anyone else. [Our music] definitely has a Classic Rock vein, but,” he adds emphatically, “it is modern music.” In other words, these guys have a sound that was created from the inside-out; an assemblage of experienced and proficient musicians produce fresh and original tracks with a nostalgic alacrity that takes classic and makes it timeless.
Originally formed in 2000, The Alan Fox Band is a five-piece band comprised of members from all over northeast Texas. Namesake and founder Alan Fox is from Carthage and performs as a guitarist and vocalist, as does Donnie Pendleton, who hails from Fort Worth and has been with the band for over ten years. Donny Hart, the Lead Vocalist from Arlington, is the newest member with a still-impressive tenure of three years, and his time is matched by current drummer Terry Salyer out of Kilgore. Bass Player Greg Cagle from Palestine completes the lineup with his sixth year as a member of AFB. “We all knew each other from previous projects, gigs, and venues,” says Pendleton, who later explains that in the band’s earlier years, “it was Blues Rock.” As the band absorbed the talents and influences of Hart, Greg, and Terry, their sound evolved and began to evoke the deeper harmonies and more striking melodies of Classic Rock.
Each member is an established musician in their own right, and each will attest that the band’s music is really a reflection of many different sounds, a collaboration of their individual talents and techniques which results in the whole being even greater than the sum of its parts. Of course, a firm foundation is necessary to support such a cacophony of talent, and for The Alan Fox Band that foundation is an innate cohesion that exists among all of the members. “We are greater as a unit, [which is] the reason that this band functions as well as it does,” explains Donny Hart. “ It is because we are old enough to be past all of the stuff that tears other bands apart.” Greg adds to this, remarking that, “there is no ego in the band, we record well together, we play well together, we all have the same work ethic.” This proves advantageous especially considering that no two members live in the same town, a fact which does not at all hinder the band’s progress or professionalism.
Donnie Pendleton describes the phenomena that naturally occurs in the band’s work. “It tends to motivate itself – it has an energy of its own. When I sit down with Donny [to write songs], things happen.” Greg agrees, “Anytime we are in pre-production for new material, I get excited. Just listening to rough cuts, is very gratifying.” Donny also says of Alan Fox that, “he makes huge contributions. When we have song ideas, he’ll have a hook or a perspective that makes it happen.” Often, the song-writing process is fleshed out in live rehearsals, as they allow inspiration to fill in the melodies and bass lines. In fact, Greg admits that often they “put stuff together so ‘off the cuff’ that I’ll say to myself, ‘I gotta sit down and learn that.’”
Alan Fox Band released the album “JuJu Ear Rub” in 2008, and their live performances have expanded far beyond the local dive to the national festival circuit. Then in 2013, the band was given huge honors at the L.A. Music Awards, a nationwide red-carpet media event that was founded in 1991 to increase exposure to the independent music scene. That year, the band was named “Hard Rock Band of the Year” and Donnie Pendleton was awarded “Guitarist of the Year.” Currently they are putting together a new album to be released in its entirety in the fall of this year, but they are taking a different approach with its release. “Our strategy this time has been to let [each song] out as a single as it is completed,” explains Greg, “and then we will release a collection of those on a CD.”
Most importantly, the band’s song-writing reaches to all of the depths and heights that their musical prowess can take them. “Our lyrics mean something,” says Hart. “We tell stories, [the music] feels how we all sometimes feel – heavy and bluesy.” Full-length versions of two of AFB’s most recent singles are available for free on ReverbNation.com. Produced by Aaron Avenue Records, “El Cabron” and “Redemption” are quintessential Classic Rock ballads which perfectly showcase the band’s electric and powerful live performances, punctuated by the crisp and clean wails of Donny Hart that can be heard all the way back in 1973.
AFB is endorsed by Curt Mangan Strings.com, and Donnie Pendleton is endorsed by Goulding Guitars in England, gouldingguitars.com.
Find the music of Alan Fox Band on iTunes, Amazon, ReverbNation.com, and YouTube; or see them live at the Main Street Festival in Grapevine, Texas on May 16th, and in Longview at the T-Bone Walker Blues Festival on June 6th.
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