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Col. Bruce Hampton & Aquarium Rescue Unit Ready to Tour – Continuing Coverage – Deep Jams Radio

Col. Bruce Hampton & Aquarium Rescue Unit Ready to Tour – Continuing Coverage

Written by on May 12, 2015

ARU 2015

Col. Bruce Hampton, Jeff Sipe, Matt Slocum, Oteil Burbridge, & Jimmy Herring – The Aquarium Rescue Unit


Col BruceWhen Deep Jams Radio got word that the members of power group The Aquarium Rescue Unit were having a conference to discuss this summer’s reunion tour we weren’t really sure what to expect. We made the trek to Athens and the historic Georgia Theater where the conference and a rehearsal were planned for the afternoon of May 5th. It seems the band wasn’t sure either, “we’ve never had a press conference for a tour before” laughs Jeff Sipe as we gather in a room tucked away in the theater. Since ARU also notoriously never rehearses we may be seeing yet another facet to the ever changing and always unpredictable band in the months to come.

This summer’s lineup will consist of legendary front man Col. Bruce Hampton, bassist Oteil Burbridge, guitarist Jimmy Herring, Sipe on drums, and Matt Slocum joining the band on keyboards. All members play together regularly but this is the first time they have all been together since playing at the grand reopening of the Ga Theater on 2011 with the exception of Slocum who is new to the lineup . Oteil Jimmy Herring

As we gather, the room is filled with laughter and excited voices sharing stories and memories from past tours. The anticipation for this summer’s travel is evident. Jimmy Herring puts it best… “We have known each other for years, we have history, we know things about each other that no one else knows… we are family”.

While discussing early musical influences Burbridge told us that Jerry Garcia was his inspiration to take up the banjo, which prompted Hampton to relay a story about the origin of Jerry’s first banjo, It’ s not my story so I won’t retell it but the moral is: the family of music can be oddly interconnected.


Also on the table for discussion was the band’s reputation with and influence on musicians in the Jamband community. ARU is well known as a musician’s band, focusing heavily on genre splitting improvisation. Not surprisingly the label doesn’t seem to sit easily with the band. With so many diverse musical influences to choose from labels can be confining, Hampton used the table they were seated at as an example of what music consists of, with only a slice devoted to jam. “Improvisational music can draw from so much more than just this slice; we have this entire table to choose from”. Burbridge adds: “if our work has been a positive influence that’s an honor”

Jeff SipeWhen asked what to expect in the upcoming tour Burbridge allowed that he would love to explore some of the old Hampton Grease Band material. We also get an interesting glimpse here into the philosophy that seems to have been woven thru the conversation and is driving the excitement we can all feel in the room. There is a general consensus that expectations are creativity killers. The freedom they find playing together is the antithesis of expectation, the joy of shedding expectations to simply play spontaneously in the moment at hand. That freedom and joy come with the potential for failure. Oddly enough there is even a sense of anticipation for that rare bad night. While there may be “no egos under water” it’s abundantly clear that there’s a lot of mutual respect and trust, so much that they can risk an off night knowing that the monster talent on stage will pick up the extra space and work the magic dedicated fans have been coming to see for 26 years. After all, as several members quoted Hampton in almost reverent tones: “Life isn’t always good – why should music be?”

 Jimmy Herring

For further information about Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit see our earlier blog entry at:
Southern Music – The Art of Col. Bruce Hampton – Deep Jams Radio

This summer’s announced dates include:
06/05/2015 PRS Event – Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore, MD
07/29/2015 Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO
07/30/2015 Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO
07/31/2015 Mishawaka, Bellveue, CO
08/01/2015 Ogden Theatre, Denver, CO
08/05/2015 Iron City, Birmingham, AL
08/06/2015 Cannery, Nashville, TN
08/07/2015 Buckhead, Atlanta, GA
08/08/2015 Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA
08/09/2015 Orange Peel, Asheville, NC
08/12/2015 The Ritz, Raleigh, NC
08/13/2015 The National, Richmond, VA
08/14/2015 The Howard Theatre, DC
08/15/2015 Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY
08/16/2015 Brooklyn Bowl, NYC, NY

For more info check out Col. Bruce & The ARU on their official web site here:

Listen for The Aquarium Rescue Unit and all solo works from band members in our regular Deep Jams Radio rotation.


Article by Shawn Chisholm

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