Band: Col. Bruce Hampton & the Madrid Express
Date: Friday, April 8, at 9:30 p.m.
Venue: O’Daly’s Irish Pub
Col. Bruce Hampton is one of the most iconic figures in jam rock. In the early ‘60s, Hampton found his muse in jazz great Fats Waller. He fell in love with Waller’s carefree arrangements, which were riddled with measures of improvisation.
In fact, Hampton credits Waller with being a harbinger of the jam rock movement. As the ‘60s were ending, Hampton formed the Hampton Grease Band, which he saw as an opportunity to mix Waller’s musical style with rock ‘n’ roll.
“To me, they [Fats Waller] were the first jam band,” Hampton said. “I went, ‘Let’s do this and put it to rock ‘n’ roll and improvise. We started that back then, and I’ve tried to do the same thing for 50 years.”
Through the decades, Hampton remained faithful to his musical philosophy, even though it was ahead of its time. The Hampton Grease Band morphed into the Late Bonze Age and then the New Ice Age. Eventually, Hampton found the perfect sonic mix with the Aquarium Rescue Unit, which featured jam legends such as guitarist Jimmy Herring (Widespread Panic, Jazz Is Dead), bassist Oteil Burbridge (Tedeschi Trucks Band, Allman Brothers Band) and drummer Jeff Sipe (Warren Haynes, Project Z).
This group helped kindle what would become a modern jam rock movement that burned brightly into the new millennium. When Col. Bruce takes the stage at SouthSounds 2016, he’ll be joined by the Madrid Express.
“We play country music, but I’m not sure which country,” Hampton said. “We definitely will rock.”
When not concentrating on his music, Hampton also has a passion for film. Many were introduced to his acting talents as the character “Morris” in the 1996 film “Sling Blade.” Hampton’s latest screen project is “Here Comes Rusty,” which was partially filmed at the Mobile Greyhound Track. Hampton stars as Dicky St. Jon, who is an aspiring musician/dog track owner. According to the film’s website, St. Jon “has run the track financially into the ground and nearly alienated everyone in his life.”
Hampton is joined on the screen by Joey Lauren Adams (“Chasing Amy”) and Fred Willard (“A Mighty Wind”), whom Hampton considers his “hero.” As far as filming in Mobile, Hampton says was grueling.
“We had 18-hour days, and we shot it in about three weeks,” Hampton said. “I heard people talk about the humidity in Mobile, and you guys win. We had a great time.”
Hampton is preparing for his next feature film, a project called “Strange Voices,” which will be shot in Atlanta. He describes the main character of this movie as an “Alabama teenager who sweats a lot, and he has great anxiety problems.”
As far as when the public can expect to see “Strange Voices,” Hampton says no contracts have been signed as of yet. In the meantime, Hampton will continue to build on a musical career that has spanned 50 years.
“I enjoy my life,” he said. “Everybody has their ups and downs in life, but I’ve had nothing but wonderful surprises.”