They originally hail from the old stomping grounds of the recently departed Godfather of Soul, but Atlanta-via-Augusta rockers Dead Confederate sound more like the bluesy L.A. Woman–era Doors spiked with the dissonant guitar hum and detached vocal stylings of more modern artists like My Morning Jacket.
The psychedelic-stamped quintet started out under the name “Redbelly,” playing bars and clubs around their hometown of Augusta during the late ’90s. After a few years of gigging around, it came time for the Redbelly guys to make a decision about whether or not to pursue a further career in music together and 2005 marked a new beginning for the refocused band.
When their debut album release rolled around that year, the fellas already had their sights set on relocating to Atlanta and had become known as The Redbelly Band. Formerly a much looser, jam-oriented group with leanings toward classic album rockers like Pink Floyd and the Allmans, the rejuvenated Redbelly Band buckled down as collective songwriters, cranked up the distortion, and let rip with a slab’s worth of frazzled, diverse, and unmistakably Southern guitar-rock.
Produced by Athens control room wiz David Barbe, the new album, Petition to the Queen, serves as proof of how far removed the rechristened Redbelly Band is from its original model. The guitars sounded sharper and louder, the lyrics darker and more challenging, and moody Hammond organ licks now colored the band’s backdrop with a splash of rock ‘n’ soul straight from the vaults of departed flagship southern rock label Capricorn Records.
Hardy Morris (lead vocals, guitar), Brantley Senn (bass, vocals), Walker Howle (lead guitar), Jason Scarboro (drums), and John Watkins (keyboards, vocals) still comprise the membership of the ex-Redbelly Band, which now goes by the more intriguing moniker Dead Confederate. Really, all that’s changed is the name since the Petition… album came out. Morris had initially hinted at a name change, anyway, shortly after that album’s release.
Dead Confederate recently put out a new self-titled EP that’s getting steady play from modern rock stations around the Atlanta area, where the band also wowed tightly packed club crowds at the Atlantis Music Conference in October ’06.
With the most recent identity shift now complete, band members are currently working on another full length at ATL’s Nickel & Dime Studios. If their next go-ahead shows as much progression and promise as its predecessor, Dead Confederate might just become the most electrifying thing to break out of Augusta, Ga., since Hulk Hogan — and that’s no shuck ‘n’ jive, brother.