ACT OF CONGRESS
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ACT OF CONGRESS

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | SELF

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | SELF
Band Pop Acoustic

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The Jane B Holmes Public library of Helena recently hosted the bluegrass
band, Act of Congress at an evening waterfront presentation in Joe Tucker
Park. The stringed quartet is made up of Bethany Borg (violin/vocals), Tim
Carroll (bass/vocals), Chris Griffin (guitar/dobro/vocals) and Adam Wright
(mandolin/guitar/vocals). Act of Congress expands the boundaries of acoustic
music with an original style, drawing their rich sound from variety of
styles consisting of bluegrass, jazz, and rock. They give a nod to the now
dissolved bluegrass group, Nickel Creek, for being the inspiration to the
group. Many people were on hand to hear the band showcase it's original
tunes, many of them written by Wright.

The set list of the evening included about 8 tunes, all original, with the
exception to a 80's through back tune, "Take on Me" made famous by the one
hit wonder group, A-Ha. The group even breathed some new life into the song
with a light bluegrass edge. The groups excitement, such as it is, comes
from the layered instrumental textures and the measured movement into the
climaxes of their songs that are majestic with the nuances of the group's
singing and playing. In these respects, the singles, "I Disagree" (written
by Wright and sound man, Corey Nolen) and "Five Minutes of Fame" (written
by Wright while watching an episode of American Idol, early season show) are
very impressive and are at quite opposite ends of the lyrical spectrum. The
group is said to be working on a CD in hopes of a fall release.

Act of Congress also has a new relationship with Live Nation. They will be
featured in the "VIP" areas at the Verizon Music Center at many large
concert venues. You can also catch them playing in other music venues
throughout the area. For more information on the group, you can visit their
web site at www.actofcongressmusic.com

- Leigh Rutledge Bratina


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

When the layers of music created by Act of Congress dance past your ears, group members hope you feel like you've been eavesdropping on a really great conversation.

"We just love the acoustic sound. It's an honest sound that's not run through computers," said mandolin player Adam Wright. "By nature it tells more of a story. Even if there are no words, we're able to evoke some sort of emotion from people."

Wright and Chris Griffin, who plays guitar, began playing together casually in college. They later added Tim Carroll, who plays upright bass, and fiddle player Bethany Borg.

"We all have very different experiences and are all teaching musicians, so we've found a way to turn those experiences into a really interesting sound," Griffin said.

Wright said he believes that the music provides more to tempt the ears of listeners.

"The skeleton of the song may be set, but there is so much improvisation," Wright said. "One person may play a lick and another person react to it."

That interesting sound has been skipping its way across stages around central Alabama.

After just four months in the new format, the string quartet has fallen into a busy schedule of weddings, reunions and community events like a recent show the Helena Public Library sponsored at Joe Tucker Park.

Apparently their sound is catching on. The group just recently developed a partnership with LiveNation. LiveNation books shows for VIP sections at big venue concerts and has lined Act of Congress up for shows with the likes of John Mayer, Toby Keith, Gretchen Wilson, Kenny Chesney and Alan Jackson.

While band members grabbed the chance to play at big venues like Verizon Music Center, Wright said they still enjoy the versatility of their music.

"The texture of all our instruments really blend together, and, in our sets, we can play anything from jazz to bluegrass to rock," Wright said. He said each member has so much talent they are able to play classical music at a wedding ceremony and then transform back into the jazzy, bluegrass playing Act of Congress.
- Samantha Hall - Staff Writer for the Shelby County Reporter


Music You Need To Hear
Finding good music one post at a time...

Sunday, September 28, 2008
Act of Congress
When Nickel Creek decided to take an indefinite hiatus at the end of their 2007 tour, there was no doubt sadness among fans of acoustic music.

It would be easy to say that a Birmingham, Alabama quartet named Act of Congress is hoping to capitalize on the remains of Nickel Creek's fan base. But if you listen to their music (free downloads here, iTunes, MySpace) and still think that, well, you're just not paying attention.

Act of Congress' first full length CD, "Declaration" is strikingly original -- from beginning to end. Not a bad track? Heck, there's not a wasted note. Period.

There are so many things right about this CD, it's hard to know where to begin. The playing and harmonies are flawless, but more than that, the arrangements and production are balanced perfectly -- they never get in the way of each other. As a result -- pure organic music making for nothing other than the love of music and sharing it with the listener. There's a "feel" to this CD unlike, any I've heard in a long time.

Let me be perfectly clear -- every track on Declaration is a standout.

Still, some thoughts on a few:

-In the Middle (The prefect opening track. Gives you a great idea of what to expect from the rest of the CD.)
-She Knows Her Way Around (Laden with great harmonies, this song gently seeps into your soul.)
-I Disagree (The combination of dobro, harmonies, violin and lyrics make this track a winner.)

If that weren't enough, in concert, AOC also plays covers of Coldplay's Clocks, A-ha's Take on Me and the Beatles Paperback Writer. These versions pay homage to the original, but in typical AOC fashion, go off in an original direction. An EP of cover song is in the works.

Act of Congress - Music You Need To Hear.
- http://musicyouneedtohear.blogspot.com/


Act of Congress blew me away with their stage presence. They have a great Bluegrass/Nickel Creek feel to them and are very creative in the music they make. Their music is very relaxing yet catchy at the same time. Talent radiates from these guys both individually and as a group.

Matt Crump
GM/The House of Brews

- Matt Crump - GM - House of Brews


Act Of Congress is blessed with an uncanny ability to energize and delight its audience.
The classic instrumental lineup of guitar, bass, fiddle, and mandolin has lent itself to an endless variety of musical expression... yet never more so than in the hands of these four gifted players. The perfectly-melded core rhythms give each performer an invitation to step out on jazz-inflected solos, exploring the flexible boundaries of a piece's verse and line. The confidence and cohesion exhibited by these enthusiastic young musicians is truly arresting, whether heard as individual instrumentalists, momentarily-fused duos, or as a full-bore, all-four juggernaut. Their set lists combine a healthy mix of familiar tunes and instantly-accessible originals, all delivered in a focused and concerted effort.


- Keith Harrelson-Moonlight Music Café


Act of Congress does amazing things. I have heard you in concert and know that your level of artistry, technical competence and spontaneous joy simply have to be nurtured in our community. - Tim Ritchie-President CEO-McWane Science Center


Late last year, a friend told me I should check out local band Act of Congress—and to ensure my interest, he compared them to my favorite, now-defunct band, Nickel Creek. I waited far too long to follow his advice, but I heard the band perform twice during City Stages weekend. The Nickel Creek comparison is apt; Act of Congress sounds like echoes of that newgrass band, circa their 2000 selftitled album. I was instantly hooked, and waited anxiously for their debut LP. Declaration is a largely upbeat number, with two versions of the catchy "In the Middle" bookending a mix of instrumentals and songs with thoughtful lyrics. "Nature of Things" builds tension, moving from its staccato introduction to lush, full-band instrumentation. "When We're Through" is a melancholy lament that beautifully exhibits each player's instrumental talents and vocal abilities. In all, it's an engaging collection. The CD release party is Sept. 5 at WorkPlay. —CARLA JEAN WH - Birmingham Magazine


Published On: 08/25/2008
"We're not trying to live off the Nickel Creek legacy, but they are an influence." After the success of the aforementioned band into the mainstream, it's easy to see why any band using guitar, mandolin, and violin as its' primary instruments would have a hard act to follow. Now, Birmingham has its own band to throw into the mix. If you haven't seen Act of Congress play live, you're in for a real treat. While it may appear at first that they are a pure bluegrass band, designating the music to any one genre simply doesn't do them justice. One reason for this is that they "don't come from a bluegrass background."
To understand the Act of Congress sound, you first have to understand where each of the band members comes from musically. Chris Griffin, guitarist, comes primarily from a rock background. Adam Wright, mandolin, is a pianist turned guitar player turned mandolin player who also happens to fancy writing folk songs. Tim Carroll and Bethany Borg, bass and violin respectively, both come from esteemed classical backgrounds. The result is a band that explores a variety of territories in their music, from folksy rock songs to grooving, soulful pieces, to unique renditions of Coldplay songs.
When asked what sets Act of Congress apart from other things going on in the music scene, the band pointed out that "our music doesn't really lend itself to the bar scene." This is true in the sense that AoC's music is the kind of thing you really have to engage in to appreciate. There is usually so much going on instrumentally that's so subtle in nature, it can be easy to miss in a bar setting. The fact that Act of Congress is not a bar band makes their rise in Birmingham all the more impressive.
The band attributes this to the city's willingness to get behind good music. "We're very thankful to the music community in Birmingham. They've been very supportive of us. When the community finds something worth investing its time in, they become very supportive and helpful to that artist."
Now the band is taking the next step in its development: a full length record. "Declaration" is the product of a great deal of hard work on the band's part, and was produced by Jason Elgin (Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Collective Soul). All the songs on the LP are originals, with the exception of "She Knows her Way Around," which was written by former band member Brad McConnell.
I asked the band about the writing and recording process. "We do an initial recording, and then each member will work on arranging their parts for the song. When we do the final recording, we strive for one or two takes."
The band also faces unique challenges in the writing and arranging process that more conventional rock quartets do not. "We are very aware of the fact that we do not have a drummer and have to work around that." From what I've heard both live and listening to the music on their site (www.actofcongressmusic.com), the new album succeeds in making the listener forget that there is no drummer. The songs are well written and even more masterfully arranged.
Standouts for me include: "In the Middle" and "The Nature of Things," though there is something available here for anyone's tastes.
Celebrating the release of "Declaration," Act of Congress will be playing a show at Workplay on September 5 at 9 p.m. Come down and support your local music scene, and enjoy some great songs from a great band to boot. The doors open at 8, so come early and get a great spot.

- Philip Gibson, Staff Columnist


On Thursday, September 11th, Act of Congress won the 2008 IMWS Southeast showcase at Vinyl in Atlanta, GA. Congratulations on winning the third of four Grand prize packages worth over $50,000! - Discmakers.com/imws/


Friday, September 05, 2008

There are obsessions that are completely unwarranted, like peanut butter and bologna sandwiches. Or CSI Miami. If you see someone obsessed with things like that, then you pretty much write them off with a 'bless their heart'.

But there are certain obsessions or loves that are reasonable. I would say that Act of Congress is reasonable. I just got home from Workplay and MAN, what a concert! Amazing. They sold out the venue. I knew they would, that's why I bought my tickets like 3 weeks ago.

I invited a friend of mine to come to the concert. We hadn't seen each other in a long time and we had a blast. I watched her as she enjoyed the concert and realized that it's not just my love for Adam and Jessica that color my love for AOC. They are really just brilliant. Melissa said afterwards that it was the most fun she's ever had at a concert. She laughed and cried and was awed.

As I reveled in the laughter and beauty, I couldn't help but praise God. For his beauty that inspires these artists and for his grace that enables me to enjoy it. For his gift to my family of friendship with Adam and Jessica. For his glory that was displayed tonight. He is good. He is the author of all good things.

So my "obsession" with my new CD (actually I bought 4), is just me trying to suck all the glory out of something beautiful. I will not apologize. And I ask you to join me...
- Crissy


Discography

2009 Declaration Full Length
2009 Cover Up E.P.
2008 Love Remains E.P.

Photos

Bio

Hailing From Birmingham, Alabama, the organic sound of Act Of Congress combines hook laden melodies, compelling songwriting, and intelligent acoustic instrumentation that's rapidly gathering attention throughout the country. Having released their debut album "Declaration" (2008), Act Of Congress' sound is grounded, approachable and technically masterful. In two short years, the band has been recognized by the likes of Paste Online, SXSW, Disney, Woodsongs, NACA, APCA (voted a finalist in the APCA 2010 Best Band competition)and Billboard (chosen from over 2000 submissions to compete and ultimately win the 2008 Disc Makers IMWS Award.) AOC has also worked with Live Nation, opening VIP areas for artists such as John Mayer, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, and Brooks and Dunn.

With lush harmony, articulate instrumentation and a live show that will leave you speechless, Act of Congress' musical vistas sweep from the ground breaking sounds of Nickel Creek, Mute Math, and John Mayer to the weaving soundscapes one might find sprinkled throughout Matthew Perryman Jones or Radiohead. Timeless compositions of masterful lyrics and musicianship abound throughout each song, combining vintage acoustic instrumentation with sweeping layers of varied musical roots to create a truly magical experience.

Chris Griffin (guitar/dobro) and Adam Wright (mandolin/guitar), became friends in college. Wright, a pianist turned guitar player turned mandolin player, says " After being exposed to progressive bluegrass music, Chris and I both became very interested in modulating our singer songwriter/rock knowledge to acoustic instruments. That style evolved from a casual jam to one that requires an extraordinary high level of musicianship," Says Wright, "The playing is very demanding. This is not a style of music where you can not play for a month then get up and do a show again. We work really hard on keeping the songs up to par. Vocally, it's equally demanding as well. But in the end, there's nothing else we'd rather be doing."

In late "2006, Tim Carroll (upright bass) was hired to perform with Chris on several tracks for Ferret Recording Artist Maylene and the Sons Of Disaster"s II album. A friendship and respect developed between the three, and the notion to create a new progressive acoustic band originated. Almost a year later, Bethany Borg, fiddle champion in ten states, relocated from a two year stint performing in Branson Missouri, and after hearing her play at an afternoon rehearsal, the quartet solidified.

From industry professionals to casual music fans, everyone can relate to the group's sound. Their debut album titled "DECLARATION" produced by Jason Elgin, (Collective Soul, Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Lynam) and mastered by Roger Lian (White Stripes, Deftones, Staind) recently Sold Out it's release concert at Workplay, "One of PASTE magazine's 40 best venues in America

Upcoming Shows

Feb 18 20109:30P
APCA National ConferenceAtlanta, Georgia
Feb 19 20107:30P
Folk Alliance Conference Performance Alley Official ShowcaseMemphis, Tennessee
Feb 19 20107:30P
Sirius XM’s, The Village broadcast recordingMemphis, Tennessee
Feb 19 20109:30P
Center for Southern FolkloreMemphis, Tennessee
Feb 19 201011:30P
Folk Alliance Room 1808 ShowcaseMemphis, Tennessee
Feb 20 20104:30P
Private EventBirmingham, Alabama
Mar 11 20108:00A
SynchromeshBirmingham, Alabama
Mar 12 20108:00A
SynchromeshBirmingham, Alabama
Mar 13 20108:00A
SynchromeshBirmingham, Alabama
Mar 20 20107:00P
Dixie Brickyard Spring ThawKimberly, Alabama
Mar 26 20106:00P
Huntsville Youth OrchestraHuntsville, Alabama
Mar 27 20107:30P
Druid City Festival HeadlineTuscaloosa, Alabama
Apr 13 20107:00P
University of TexasTyler, Texas
Apr 14 20107:00P
Northwood UniversityCedar Hill, Texas
Apr 19 20107:00P
Drury UniversitySpringfield, Missouri
Apr 24 20106:00P
Private EventBirmingham, Alabama
May 1 20106:00P
Private EventBirmingham, Alabama
May 6 20107:00P
Amarillo CollegeAmarillo, Texas
May 15 20107:00P
Private ShowBirmingham, Alabama
Jun 7 20108:00P
Corporate EventBirmingham, Alabama
Jun 14 20108:00P
Corporate EventBirmingham, Alabama
Aug 7 20106:00P
Turtle Back ParkMt Laurel, Alabama
Aug 7 20107:30P
Private EventBrimingham, Alabama
Aug 11 20108:00P
Corporate EventBirmingham, Alabama
Aug 21 20103:00P
Founders Day FestivalFultondale, Alabama
Aug 22 20108:00P
Corporate EventBirmingham, Alabama
Aug 25 20108:00P
North Central Texas CollegeGainesville, Texas
Oct 5 20107:00P
Broward CollegeCoconut Creek, Florida
Oct 8 20107:00P
Hillsborough Community CollegeTampa, Florida
Oct 9 20108:00P
Private PartyGadsden, Alabama
Nov 4 20106:00P
Heidelberg UniversityTiffin, Ohio
Dec 18 20103:00P
Private EventBirmingham, Alabama