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Daniel Miller

Newly acclaimed band The Alabama Shakes lived up to theirnamesake Jan. 19 at One Eyed Jack’s, winning over the packed roomwith their sweet southern style and foot-stomping rhythm andblues.

With praises coming from nearly every corner of the musicindustry, the five-piece soul band from Athens, Ala. is a covetedshow among the music-seeking elite. Soaring to success since itsformation a little more than two years ago, the group has alreadytoured with The Drive-By Truckers, recorded a live 7″ with JackWhite, and sold out shows in New York, Los Angeles, San Franciscoand London, where it will play for the first time thisFebruary.

Anyone squeezed into the wall-to-wall crowd on Thursday eveningwas expecting something fantastic. The band delivered, opening upthe set with the head-bobbing “Hold On,” a steady, heavy-hittinggroove that showcased the group’s superb songwriting. All eyes wereon front woman Brittany Murphy, the loveable 23-year-old whochannels Janis Joplin but looks more like a kindergarten teacher.Her spontaneous profanity throughout the evening proved she wascertainly not the latter, and her confidence on stage was palpableas she led who she referred to as her “fellas” through a set thatwound between the group’s softer ballad numbers and itsunstoppable, pounding 12-bar tunes.

Drummer Steve Johnson and bassist Zac Cockrell held a seamlesspocket beneath the wild chunking rhythms of the two guitarists, andJohnson attacked the drums with robotic precision. The group’srecent addition of Ben Tanner on organ added a glowingly full toneto the group’s rough edges. Still, the middle of the set saw a fewweak moments, where the band appeared to be trying out new materialthat lacked the coherence and continual reworking that brings aboutgreat music. The roughness of these new songs was apparent butdidn’t detract from the overall performance. The group closed witha tune in which Murphy improvised all of the lyrics, an attempt atconjuring up a unique, non-repeatable moment, which fell slightlyshort of its potential.

The band got back to what it knew best, however, with a jawdropping encore of the dynamic “On Your Way,” the lows wallowing,the highs soaring and the audience chanting for more. The crowd’sthunderous applause throughout the entire evening made it clear TheAlabama Shakes are truly in an ever-desirable whirlwind ofsuccess.