Gig Seeker Pro


Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Rock Roots




"Laughing to Keep from Crying on the Latest from Amigo"

At its best, country music is tragicomic.

Think about it: that's why a good honky-tonk songwriter can write about the heaviest, bleakest subject imaginable without toppling the listener under the weight. They know how to wink at the listener, how to crack a smile or drop an irreverent joke in between heartbreakers.

This can come in the form of Emmylou Harris pairing Chuck Berry's happy-go-lucky teenage wedding tune with the stunningly direct Dolly Parton duet "When I Stop Dreaming" on Luxury Liner. It can come in the form of Waylon and Willie making wry light of addiction in "I Can Get Off on You," the shameless fun of their version of "Don't Cuss the Fiddle," or even the playful "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys," all on the same LP. Then there's Johnny Cash, who jury-rigged an entire car in "One Piece at a Time." Modern artists, of course, do it too: Sarah Shook is the primary target of her own twisted humor ("God don't make mistakes / he just makes fuck-ups").

Amigo, then, is in good company. This Charlotte, NC, country-rock trio is very funny, and almost sneakily substantial. On a casual listen, Amigo's new And Friends simply sounds like easygoing country-rock with a penchant for boogie. Pay a little more attention, though, and be rewarded with staggeringly funny — and ultimately dark — lyrics.

"Cigarettes take minutes off the ends of people's lifetime / while vegetables add days to the painful cancer years," songwriter Slade Baird sings on "Bless Your Heart," almost cheerful in his delivery. "Bless your heart / take that the wrong way." This is Amigo's territory. On paper, these phrases do not look lyrical at all, yet Baird fits them to infectious melodies and delivers them casually, almost offhandedly.

Like the best tragicomedies, Amigo's brand of humor assuages the insoluble existential terror we all know too well. Consider "Bless Your Heart:" no one appreciates a properly bleak cancer joke quite like someone with cancer (such as the writer of this review). If you can make light of something that monolithic, powerful, and lethal, it seems a little less terrifying — and you gain an illusion of control in the process. Elsewhere on the album, Baird simply sings, "I wanna live / because I don't wanna die." Irreverent humor and honest fear walk hand-in-hand on And Friends.

Thematically, Amigo is a direct descendant of Lyle Lovett, the master of the bizarrely funny country song. The creepy veteran in Lovett's "Pontiac" or his assertion that "fat babies have no pride" would be right at home on And Friends, though this is not Lovett's genteel, jazz-infused Texas country. Amigo, rather, bounces along like a Southern beach party soundtrack, thanks in part to drummer Adam Phillips' propulsive bounce on the boogie tunes and tasteful restraint on the laid-back numbers. Elsewhere, hand percussion lends a relaxing Southwestern flavor, such as on "(When I Fool) You (Into) Loving Me (Again)." "Making plans, taking chances / give this thing another shot," Baird sings, setting up a deadpan punchline. "What's to stop us if we're both single? / and even if we're not."

Consistently, Baird sings with the unassuming affability of a good friend after, say, two mid-afternoon beers, the kind of person who'll lean in, cop a devilish grin, and say "The kids are cool / the kids are weird / I'm not convinced that they're sincere / but those old clothes we like are back in style again." And these are the kinds of people we trust with weighty concerns — cancer, death, aging out of relevance — because we know they'll try and make us feel better without discounting our very real fears. - No Depression

"Amigo - "And Friends" LP"

Let us dispense with formalities and summarily count the ways: A rockin’ North Carolina—specifically: Charlotte, NC—twang/psych trio with classic ‘70s singer/songwriter and early ‘90s indie-rock smarts; ace guest turns from a slew of fellow NC virtuosos (among them, mandolin and fiddle ace John Teer, from Chatham County Line); recording sessions with Mitch Easter at his Fidelitorium studio, and mastering by Dave Harris at Charlotte’s Studio B. Sure sounds like a litany of TMOQ signage to this impartial observer. One hazards the statement that “And Friends” by Queen City trio Amigo is about as quintessentially Tar Heel as a Dean Smith tailgate party or a Sen. Sam Ervin memorial barbecue.

Okay, so maybe “this observer” isn’t exactly impartial, having seen the band awhile back—and in about as up close and personal a venue as it gets, during a record shop in-store performance. (Raleigh, NC, store Schoolkids Records, to be specific—the group loves breeding such intimacy, trust me.) So this reviewer doesn’t need much encouragement, having been a fan since 2014’s Might Could album: Frontman Slade Baird, drummer Adam Phillips, and bassist Thomas Alverson have the kind of musical mojo and natural stage charisma that’d create new friends whether appearing on a huge festival stage or sharing a post-gig beer at your local neighborhood pub.

There are elements of both classic and contemporary on “And Friends,” notably (for the former notion) the pedal steel, piano, and woodwind-adorned “I Wanna Live (UK Surf),” a stately, gently moving existential meditation that suggests a tuneful summit between Traffic and American Beauty-era Dead; and “Underground Medicine,” a full-tilt twang/garage raveup guaranteed to make those 2am last calls complete washouts as the audience absolutely refuses to let the group off the stage for another hour. Hey, next round’s on me, Slade.

Beyond that, there are stealth moments on this gorgeous collection that are guaranteed to creep into your dreamscapes and line your waking activities, from stunning opener “The Big Idea,” which conjures sonic memories of The Band (listen, in particular, for the Garth-like organ and some sinewy lead guitar); to an out-of-this-world cover of John Prine’s “Everybody” (did I use the word “raveup” yet in this review?); to a somewhat sneaky reprise of “The Big Idea” that gets retitled as “Almost Something Good” and is recast as a haunting acoustic guitar reverie eventually giving way to a lush country-rock arrangement.

Sings Baird, amid a swell of mandolin, pedal steel, guitar, bass, and drums: “What if I found something good? It’s just the way I feel – I only hesitate because the first time, it was almost something good. A little apprehensive ‘cause the last time was so fucked up.” As vulnerable a moment as you’re likely to encounter in this still-young new year—and a sentiment to let you know you’re not alone for the rest of this unfolding year as well. Lord knows, we’re gonna need some shoulders to lean on.

These guys, well… they’re your amigos. - Blurt Magazine

"Amigo - And Friends"

It’s easy to hear Amigo’s And Friends and understand it as the sonic accomplishment that it is. Its older brother, Might Could, is a bit wilder, definitely more ramshackle, and more willing to throw caution to the wind. And Friends is much more introspective and focused (Mitch Easter’s engineering is masterfully on display here). It locks in like a vice, creating the trio’s most well-rounded and cohesive work to date. You’re still going to have a hell of a time on the surface, but dig a little deeper, and you meet an authentic heaviness that confirms Amigo’s sophomore album exceeds expectations.
If you’re listen and find yourself a bit surprised by the juxtaposition between tone and tongue, empathize with how principal songwriter Slade Baird must have felt after he looked back at what was being written and started to connect the dots. You can read the full interview over at The Charlotte Observer, but to summarize it, And Friends exists around the end of a lengthy relationship where personal reflection and perspective (including time spent working on a film in Iraq) are only a few pillars of support.
The other pillars? Well, they’re mostly in the album’s title. For us, the title is as much about the idea of community and support as it is about those who were on hand to make a damn fine album. What’s truly amazing about the creative process once the writing and recording started is how everyone, even the outside parties, knew right away what the guys were going for. That’s saying a lot considering Amigo float in this world where Dave Edmunds, Robert Earl Keen, and John Hiatt walk side-by-side, and that’s just scratching at the surface. With that in mind, let’s peel back the layers a little more.
Smacking you right in the face with weariness and hesitation, “The Big Idea” coils itself around a tale of waiting for something better and expecting that something to be a clear improvement on the previous situation given that the last time was “almost something good.” Unfortunately, we know how the story ends. Winding itself to the point of metaphorical strangulation, the trio snap the tenuous strings wrapped around them in a furiously tense ending that you can’t help but find yourself falling in love with. You contrast this with “I Wanna Live” later down the road, and you consider the road taken and the gaps filled that lead to that midpoint.
To get there, Amigo tackle John Prine’s “Everybody” with vigor. It’s the way a cover should be done. You then see these gaps to get to the end of Side A are more like chasms. A rift is more than noticeable in “(When I Fool) You (Into) Loving Me (Again).” Hope is ever present – hell, the title uses ‘when’, not ‘if’. There’s such a decided certainty that any other outcome seems downright preposterous on first glance. But alas… One of the most powerful tracks on the album comes in “Bless Your Heart,” a track that was dusted off and reworked from a previous band Baird and drummer Adam Phillips were in together. Yet, here it is, as personal as the situation it found itself representing ten years ago, down to each moral an allusion represented.
Then, a breath, a meditation, and a realization of what’s done is done on “I Wanna Live.” It’s merely setting the stage though. There’s the faintest heartbeat keeping this love lingering. It’s powered by life support, but it’s a heartbeat nonetheless. “Those Old Clothes We Liked Are Back In Style Again” sees Baird’s words connecting the halcyon days of the relationship to fading trends as a way to say, “Remember when?” When things seem intent on politely taking your heart and tossing it away, “Underground Medicine” offers a reprieve that acknowledges the force that powered the dying embers of what was. That force? A place where punk records were ordered from.
If And Friends were a book, “Own Trip Now” and “Too Far Gone” would serve as the clear falling action. The former understands that the inevitable is upon the situation while it dabbles in the album’s most unique production and experimentation. It sends well wishes that only occasionally look in the rearview mirror as the latter winds things down. Rather than seeing himself as the one who can control or mend whatever may come, Baird sees some things are just beyond his power. But seeing that and accepting that are two very different matters. Thus begins the next chapter – something far different than the context held within this release will allow.
A reprise of sorts begins to close and write whatever is next. “Almost Something Good” reaches an endpoint that simultaneously represents a commencement for the unknown. Gorgeous in the glow it basks in, you get the feeling that the cracks and potholes left behind gave birth to a new peace. You can’t help but think that the next path will be traversed with understanding gained. Will there be cynicism, doubt, and maybe some extra apprehension? It would be seemingly antithetical to human nature to not exhibit these characteristics, yet you can’t help but think this smile that has been worn through heartbreak is now a scar from lessons learned. It’s a smile that will be worn with new meaning for what lies ahead.
And Friends is available on Amigo’s bandcamp. Get ready to hit the dance floor, but watch out for your heart on the ground. - SoundChips

"Critic's Picks: Arts and Entertainment Best of Charlotte 2017"

Best Gram Parsons-Loving Country-Rock Band - Amigo

Amigo keeps the torch burning for true alternative country-rock while most bands that boast the same in this town have slipped into Avett Brothers copycatism. Pedal steel guitars weave in and out of psychedelic organs and crunched telecasters, while barrelhouse pianos bash out chords that will send you sailing down the highway, into a mythical western sunset that only your wildest Flying Burrito dreams can take you. "I'm not a sucker but I play one in real life," sings Slade Baird, just one brilliant line in a library of similar gems that will send you flying out of whatever venue you see them at, ready to face whatever the hell that life decides to throw at you. Amigo are your real best friends, and they're going to make sure it stays that way. - Creative Loafing Charlotte

"Amigo Might Could"

This is what it’s all about – a great band of good musicians who know how to write funny songs, sad songs, clever songs, songs that rock and roll. There is no gimmick here: Amigo is the real thing. They’ve got a rootsy, down home sound – folk and rock like Wilco and the Band, and like those groups, composed of singers of much heart and soul. When they harmonize, it’s not perfect like the Eagles, it’s more like real people, and you want to sing along. They use funny country music conceits like 'Where have all the bad times gone?' but in their hands, it works. They sing of 'that old junkie two-step and cheap domestic stuff' and pull you in, you want more. Clean pedal steel lines underscore the funky soul, the jaunty vocals. Acoustic textures throughout are delicate, and set up these stories cinematically, especially the great 'Old Testaments and Nail Bombs' which follows the 'wise blood' in the veins of church-goers, and gives us some keen insight into both the dark and light of the faithful. 'Murder of Crows' is presented in great multitudes of harmony against a cool and chugging guitar groove, and takes you out on a journey that is mysterious and foreboding – both happy and scary at the same time, a dynamic and dimensional effect.  'Easy Rider' is like a party with Jackson Browne, a mariachi band and lots of tequila. The Hammond organ, wed with mariachi horns, is infectious. This is unexpected and serious songwriting rendered by a band capable of vast extremes, the kind of band that could be around a long time. I hope they are. - American Songwriter

"Amigo Might Could"

Exceedingly upbeat to the point of absolute euphoria, Amigo creates a celebratory sound that harkens back to rock ‘n’ roll’s very beginnings. Not that they’re a bunch of giddy wannabes- not hardly- but that classic, carefree exuberance is evident throughout Might Could. After all, when an album kicks off with a song titled “Where Have All the Bad Times Gone (To)?,” it clearly suggests a sense of eternal optimism. And when a tune called “(Miss You) Every Day That You Are Gone” is given a doo-wop delivery rather than a sullen send-off, that’s indicative of a generally sunny disposition as well. Fortunately though, that isn’t their only calling card. Were that the case, then Might Could might have come across as cloying or contrived. The unaffected innocence of “I Love You” or a tune like “Best Laid Plans,” which rings with the cheery enthusiasm of a classis Poco track, score points for lack of affectation, while also avoiding the pretense and posturing that frequently passes for pop these days. Like any good friend, this trio requires nothing more than a willingness to share the good vibes. Happily, there are plenty here to go around. - Elmore Magazine

"Amigo Might Could Album Review"

So effortless and charming is Amigo’s quasi-retro, semi-bearded sound- neither Buddy Holly ‘50s rock nor alt-country, though the North Carolina trio can do both- you almost miss the artistry. If every tiny town had local heroes this good, no one would leave home. - M Music & Musicians Magazine

"On its second album, Charlotte’s Amigo turns heartbreak and hurt into a joyful listen"

Famed Kernersville-based producer Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Let’s Active) describes making country rock trio Amigo’s sophomore album, “And Friends,” as a joyous experience, but songwriter Slade Baird wasn’t feeling very joyous when he wrote most of the songs on the record.

“The record reflects a different time in my life, which was not the most fun period,” says Baird, who wasn’t fully conscious of what was driving his songwriting at the time. “Looking back, it’s definitely about the end of a pretty long seven-year relationship. (The songs were) screaming that that’s what they’re about, even though I didn’t realize it fully when I was writing it.”

The album was recorded a year ago, and the band celebrates its release at Snug Harbor Saturday.

The songs reflect the time leading up to a broken engagement, but Baird also stretched his skills as a songwriter, now having years of experience and Amigo’s well-crafted debut,” Might Could,” under his belt. He worked with friend Matt Cosper – founder and artistic director of theatrical ensemble XOXO (formerly Machine Theatre) – on lyrics and explored surrealism, fantasy and different ways of saying things that otherwise “might’ve come off as a little more ‘I’m so sad,’ ” he says.
“I Wanna Live” is one that finds light in the darkness when, as Baird sings, “depression splits.”

“What started out as, ‘Oh man, maybe I’ve really done it this time. I’m not going to be able to work this relationship out. Is it worth fixing?’ turned into something bigger,” says Baird. “Depression is something that’s been in my life that I’ve learned to live with, and it might’ve been right around this time I was starting to notice the end of the depression. That line popped in there.”

“I don’t think it was a conscious choice to write a hopeful song,” he continues. “It just ended up being kind of hopeful. If a relationship ends, it’s not the end of the world. In the throes of it, depression can feel like the end of the world, but when it breaks it’s not. I need those kind of reminders for myself.”

At 40, Baird’s perspective has changed through experience. A freelance video editor by day, he recently returned from a refugee camp in Bangladesh, where he was working on a film for a humanitarian organization. He’s been to Iraq twice for similar projects.

“It was 11 miles outside of Mosul,” he says of a hospital that consisted of generators and tents erected next to a concrete wall, where women, children and war victims were treated. “You could hear bombs going off and gunshots. It’s changed my perspective on a lot of things, from where we are in the world and my personal life to how I respond in times of stress.”

While those experiences may wind their way into the next Amigo album, “And Friends” (which features guest whose instruments you don’t normally hear at Amigo’s shows) marks the end of a rough patch that manages to sound clean, emotionally authentic, rich in musical depth without coming across as fussy or busy.

“I was listening to a lot of country rock from the ’70s – Townes Van Zandt and John Prine, folk singers who could play songs by themselves but in the studio had the best musicians making this huge layered, textured sound,” he explains. “We wanted to make that kind of record. That’s why we found good musicians whose records we like, and had them play on ours. It’s why we got Mitch Easter to engineer it and recorded to tape.”

Adds Baird: “In trying to live up to our favorite (albums), we did our best to make a good honest record.” - The Charlotte Observer

"Amigo brings the music, lyrics and country with a twist"

After a few questions, Slade Baird politely shifts the focus. Rather than talk about his songwriting, he wants to talk about the band that brings his songs to life.

“A lot of times, doing these interviews, it’s kind of focused on the songwriting,” Baird said from his farm in Clover, S.C., south of Charlotte. “But I can’t stress enough that we’re a band, and that’s where the good stuff comes from.”

That band is Amigo, which brings its good stuff to Monstercade tonight. The show is part of a release tour celebrating the Charlotte band’s second album, “And Friends,” recorded with Mitch Easter at Fidelitorium Recordings, his studio in Kernersville.

Two other members have been with Amigo since its formation in 2012: drummer Adam Phillips and bass player Thomas Alverson. All three sing, with Phillips and Alverson adding sweet harmonies to Baird’s lead vocals. Baird also plays guitar and harmonica. He and Phillips have played together in bands around Charlotte since the early 2000s, and Alverson was recommended by others in the city’s music scene.

“He’s the best bass player I’ve ever played with,” Baird said.

Amigo just expanded to a quartet. Molly Poe played keyboards with the band for the first time Jan. 27 in a hometown show at Snug Harbor. Adding a fourth member “makes less heavy lifting for everybody,” Baird said.

“It’s always been in the plan, we just haven’t found the right person up until now,” he said. “Or the person that’s crazy enough to be on the road and playing rock and roll shows.”

Amigo’s new album is an alternately sweet and crunchy collection of catchy Americana tunes with echoes of late 1960s / early ’70s country rock (Flying Burrito Brothers, Grateful Dead) and ’80s cow-punk (Jason and the Scorchers, Rank and File). The critics dig it.

“With ‘And Friends,’ Amigo continues to build on a foundation that draws from country, folk and rock,” Bill Kopp wrote in Creative Loafing. “The album benefits from a more streamlined and focused approach to the studio from the one Amigo employed on its 2014 debut, ‘Might Could.’”

Corbie Hill reviewed the new album for No Depression: “On a casual listen, Amigo’s new ‘And Friends’ simply sounds like easygoing country-rock with a penchant for boogie. Pay a little more attention, though, and be rewarded with staggeringly funny — and ultimately dark — lyrics.”

The album was recorded more than a year ago. The band blew its budget in the studio, then had to save up again to print and release copies of the record, Baird said.

“Rock and roll is expensive,” he said. “We used all the money in recording, then had to save up another year to actually press the wax.”

The friends who contributed to “And Friends” include Easter, John Teer from Chatham County Line on mandolin and fiddle, and Winston-Salem’s Eddie Garcia on guitar. Garcia and Baird have known each other since high school, when they played together in a ’90s pop-punk band called the Fibbs.

“Slade has this crazy knack for melody,” Garcia said. “I find that’s one of the hardest things. I’m pretty good at putting musical ideas together, but melodies are a whole ’nother world. He’s always been really good at that, figuring out melodic solos. He actually taught me a lot in that way.”

Garcia has earned a reputation for heavy rock and roll with 1970s Film Stock and Jews and Catholics. Baird asked his old band mate to try something different when he played on “Own Trip Now.”

“One of the things he wanted was sort of a rolling acoustic-sounding thing,” Garcia said. “I didn’t hesitate, but it’s not really what I’m known for.”

Easter has worked with Garcia at Fidelitorium before, and expressed surprise seeing him without his customary electric guitar and array of effects pedals.

“Mitch walks in and sees me in there with an acoustic guitar, and he’s like, ‘Eddie, I’m very confused right now. What’s going on? Where are all the pedals?’” Garcia said. “I’m like, ‘Don’t worry, they’re here.’”

Garcia broke out the heavy artillery for his guitar solo, described in the album credits as “psychedelic freakout lead fuzz guitar.”

Another surprise on “And Friends” is Amigos’ supercharged cover of a John Prine song from 1973, “Everybody.” It’s a funny, irreverent song about a chance encounter with Jesus on the high seas.

“I started writing a song of my own, and then I realized right before I started writing lyrics that I had just lifted the tune from John Prine,” Baird said. “It was more of a rocking vibe. Rather than abandon it, we were like, ‘Well, we can’t beat the dude, so let’s just play his song, but do it our way.’” - Winston-Salem Journal

"Chummy Charlotte band Amigo is all about friendship and ties among rural roots"

Charlotte-based band Amigo has played many an Awendaw Green show.

"We got there and it was like, 'Whoa,'" says Amigo songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Slade Baird. "It's something that feels like you’re going to summer camp for a night, and there is a bunch of great music and touring bands coming through. Everybody involved with that place is behind it because of a strong love for music. It’s something special you don’t see everywhere, and we love playing there."

That is a sentiment that rings true to the members of Amigo, who first dropped "Might Could" in 2014. Members Baird and percussionist and vocalist Adam Phillips were in a project together before called Old Milwaukee. After adding bassist and vocalist Thomas Alverson and picking a new moniker, Amigo continued on a blend of punk rock and classic country.

"We wanted to get on the road and be part of a bigger music scene," says Baird of the name change. "We knew if we used a copyrighted name, that wouldn't be too possible."

The trio agreed on a band name that exuded their rawest reason for playing music together.

"Everyone plays music for their own reasons, but playing and making music with our friends and for everybody and not just for a select few is important to us," says Baird. "There’s nothing snobby about what we do. That whole idea of friendship and making friends through music is where we got the name."

To add to the theme of camaraderie, Amigo just released new album "And Friends" Friday, a 10-track, feel-good disc.

The new disc even features a track written by famed singer/songwriter John Prine, who recently played at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center in support of his 2016 album, "For Better, or Worse."

It also features nine other tracks written by Baird. A lot of his songwriting is inspired by the nature-infused isolation that comes with growing up on a farm, where he now resides.

"I'm coming from somewhere that’s a little bit isolated," says Baird. "It makes me appreciate the solitude when I’m out on the road, too. As far as our music, it's informed by what turns us on and gets us excited. The lyrics are more feelings. They come from another place.

"I don’t think necessarily that they’re fighting each other or that we're trying to put a square peg in a round hole but just that rock-and-roll and party vibes might get a bad rap for being superficial, but in the tradition of people like Bob Dylan, there's place for deeper thought and connection."

The "And Friends" album cover also is deeply rooted in Baird's tie to his family farm.

"Our album cover is a collage that Adam made, but the tractor comes from a real tractor catalog from the early '80s that I found in my grandparent’s house," he says.

"It was kind of funny growing up on a farm, because I don’t have a green thumb. I got the music gene," he adds with a laugh.

Though he lives on a farm now, Baird does not actively do any farm work. Instead, he's focused on music, including the establishment of a record label, Carlisle Beauregard Records, to help self-release Amigo discs.

"On my personal label, we’ve released two albums and a split 7-inch, all with Amigo," he says. "Anyone can release their own records, but I want to expand it to our friends and people we admire as well. I think it will probably be people we care about personally. I think you’re crazy if you start a record label for business purposes. It’s almost always coming out of a love for the music and the people involved."

Though music isn't the band members' only pursuit, it's the most important one to them because it brings them together.

"We’ve made ourselves available to make this our thing," says Baird. "We do things to make ends meet in addition to music, but we are certainly nothing if not musicians. It’s a matter of making time for what you love." - Post and Courier

"Charlotte's Amigo Calls On Their Friends To Polish Up Their Sound"

In its live shows and its 2014 debut, Might Could, Charlotte's Amigo emerged like a favorite local bar band, charming audiences with a slightly twang-infused take on the tried-and-true rock 'n' roll of The Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Nearly four years later, the group returns with a polished new album, And Friends, that finds it in a more countrypolitan frame of mind.

“We were listening to a lot of Gene Clark, Van Morrison, and Townes Van Zandt at the time we recorded these songs, so the plan going in was to take a very layered approach,” says singer and guitarist Slaid Baird. “We wanted that kind of vibe, with pedal steel parts, organ, fiddles; the core of the band is still us, though.”
The trio is filled out by Thomas Alverson on bass and drummer Adam Phillips, and their rock solid rhythm section work is the foundation that allowed the band to experiment more widely this time around. Bringing in producer Mitch Easter and using his central North Carolina studio meant that bonus players were easy to find for those 'What if we tried this?' moments.

The arrangements definitely recall the heyday of ’70s country, when artists such as Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Bare, and Larry Jon Wilson took the “Nashville Sound” and bent it to their fondness for rock and soul. Amigo’s own lean into this tradition was spurred by sheer geographical proximity and a little luck.

“We were recording up there in the middle of North Carolina and all these great players happened to not be on tour,” Baird recalls. “That's how we ended up with pedal steel and dobro, and people such as John Teer of Chatham County Line on fiddle.”

Teer's cameo on “Those Old Clothes We Liked Are Back In Style Again” positions Amigo as a Texas dance hall act, closer to Bob Wills than anything else, but Baird says the song had a much different genesis.

“We wrote that in Austin, Texas, to try out a Doug Sahm kind of sound, but John brought a more Appalachian feel to it,” he says.

Despite the added polish and shiny studio veneer, Baird contends that they're just looking to have fun and try some different things — because they can.

“We've just been together for so long we know each other, and our playing is second nature,” Baird says. “It was an unspoken goal that we were going to push ourselves on this album, make something fun and a little different.”

There are parallels here to the ’80s cowpunk scene and the ’90s alt-country crowd, but don't put a label on them, Baird pleads.

“We love the alt-country of the ’90s and even go back to stuff that predates it like Jason and the Scorchers, The Blasters, X, all of that goes into what we're doing, but why limit yourselves?” he wonders. “We're doing one thing, primarily with a rock 'n' roll palette, but how far can we take that?”

Beyond just the interesting sounds Amigo has come up with this time, there are some deeper lyrical themes present, not that Baird claims to have done any of it on purpose. Two of the more affecting songs on the album — the melodic, acoustic “I Wanna Live” and the poignant closing number “Too Far Gone” — act as thematic bookends; the former an optimistic sing-along, the latter filled with elegiac resignation.

“There was no concept going in, no big lyrical idea over the whole process,” Baird says. “But 'Too Far Gone' definitely has some thinking about what comes after this life; it's the other fork in the road that leads to 'I Wanna Live.’”

Only time and a few more albums will tell if that fork leads to a less-traveled road for Amigo, but for now the band is intent on getting back out on stage, where its engaging live show makes all the difference. - Free Times Columbia

"Country rockers Amigo go retro with new sophomore LP"

There's something inherently comforting about the ferociously lovable rock 'n' roll that the Charlotte-based band Amigo makes.

The group, who are set to celebrate the recent release of their sophomore LP And Friends this Saturday at Royal American, maintains a fun, bar band mentality to songs that can slide from Lynyrd Skynyrd-style Southern rock boogie to Flying Burrito Brothers-indebted country-rock with ease. All the while frontman Slade Baird's songwriting balances plaintive, singer/songwriter material with lighthearted and often sardonic asides that recall the impetuousness of Jason & the Scorchers or Robbie Fulks.

The band has been a familiar sight in the Carolinas in recent years as a rag-tag trio with a bit of alt-country punk-rock spirit, but the arrangements on And Friends showcase a more expansive palette with pedal steel, keys, organ, and horns pegging the band firmly in the early-to-mid 1970s heyday of country-rock.

"When the songs came together or when they were being written, I just kind of knew what they needed, you know?" shrugs Baird. "What they were kind of asking for, just based on the kind of records that we are really in to and listen to. A lot of that '70s country rock, early '70s Gene Clark, those really groovy Townes Van Zandt records with more kind of bigger instrumentation, and so on."

The band selected legendary producer and Let's Go frontman Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium Studio in Kernersville, N.C. to record the album. The decision was made in part because it allowed the band to record in the same room together and to tape, but it provided a central location for musicians like Jay Shirley (piano, organ) and Nathan Golub (pedal steel, dobro) to join in the sessions, too.

The lush sound actually fits the band's sensibilities more than the rough-and-tumble three-piece, according to Baird.

"If there was any possibility of going out [on tour] like that, with the Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen set up, we would do it," he laughs. "The reality is that, you know, it's enough for like the three of us to be able to afford a hotel room on tour. But when we're making a record and it's for all of time, we want the songs to live like we heard them in our heads in the first place."

The extra instrumentation gives songs like the fiddle-led country ramble of "Those Old Clothes We Liked are Back In Style" and the elegiac mid-tempo reminiscing of "Too Far Gone?," which features lush keys and flourishes of saxophone, a stronger bed for Baird's twangy, lilting vocals, which can often have the uncertain tremble of Rick Danko or the sumptuous sweetness of Gram Parsons.

"I think we're drawing from the same general well as [those musicians]," says Baird of the stylistic similarities. "I mean I think the reference points of Bob Dylan and the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers and all that stuff is kind of all mixed in there ... I feel a real sort of cosmic camaraderie with all those bands, who are also all influences too, but also maybe peers in a certain sense?

"We're kind of in the middle of a lot of reference points and sort of move around a bit stylistically," he continues. "We have straight-up country numbers and sort of more boogie numbers, so we move around the map a little bit, which I guess makes it harder to pin us down. But we do it because it makes it way more fun for us to be able to do different things."

And Friends arrives on the band's own label, Carlisle Beauregard Records, although Baird is quick to credit Stephen Judge from Schoolkid Records with guiding them through a lot of the business details. "He helped us work out a distribution deal and stuff," Baird explains. "They just weren't in a position to put out [the album] because they already had three or four records in line ahead of us."

While there's any number of catchy tunes on And Friends that could build on the limited Americana radio success the band had with their debut, the group seems happy just to have this second batch of tunes recorded in a manner that lives up to their promise. Baird admits, "Even though we know we're going to be doing the punk-rock versions when we go from town to town." - Charleston City Paper

"Amigo Song Used for SyFy Show"

IT'S NOT EVERY day that your song is played on national television. But Charlotte’s Amigo, an alt-country trio known for lively sets across the city, will experience just that in September. SyFy Channel’s Z Nation kicks off its new season on Sept. 11, and the show is using the tune “Love’s Made a Fool Out of Me” in the first episode. The song was a bonus track on the group’s debut record, Might Could, and it’s now available as a single on iTunes.

Amigo is comprised of Slade Baird, Adam Phillips, and Thomas Alverson. Their next Charlotte gig is the festival God Save the Queen City, presented by Ink Floyd, which arrives at the end of the month. They play the Evening Muse portion of the multi-venue event on Aug. 27.

Fans of Charlotte’s music scene know this isn’t the first time a local act has a tune played on TV. One notable and recent example was the band Matrimony, which saw the track “Giant” accompany an episode of HBO’s Girls. The Amigo song, however, could mark the first time a Charlotte tune has been played on a show about zombie infestations.

The band says to expect newer tunes ahead, as they start recording again in 2016. Until then, check out their tunes at their website. - Charlotte Magazine

"Amigo Might Could Album Review"

Might Could, the debut full-length from Clover, South Carolina’s roots-rockers Amigo is a very tasty slice of American pie. Most acts out there these days trying to make the great sounds of yesterday sound new again go about it all wrong. It’s usually some sort of Tom Waits wannabe steam punk garbage or some rich kid singing about being a riverboat gambler. Not these dudes. Amigo dodges all the pitfalls of the Americana genre, delivering soulful and personal songs that are coming from a very real place. Singer/guitar player Slade Baird dishes out one gem after another. The songwriting is top notch, jumping effortlessly from Southern Gothic (“Old Testaments and Nail Bombs”) to rollicking rockers (“Where Have All The Bad Times Gone”) and making it all seem like part of a larger whole. Amigo performs as a power trio but here can be found really fleshing out their material with piano, organ, pedal steel, trumpet and saxophone. All of this i9s put together in a very tasteful way, and there are harmonies everywhere. Make plans to see Amigo in action at their official release show being held at Snug Harbor on Friday, February 21st. - Crowd Surfer

"2014's Best LPs Highlight City's Diverse Sounds"

Country music is full of high-lonesome heartbreak, but there's also an unassuming, goofy side that’s no less powerful for being less serious — see Lyle Lovett or Willie Nelson — and a welcome reprieve in a genre full of downers. Might Could exists in this vein. Consider "Oh, Easy Rider," an upbeat number with a Southwestern feel and horn section that opens, "alarm clock says 'good morning!'/ a pounding in my head/ need to find that dog that bit me/ I gotta go to work instead." It's a little silly, a little downtrodden, but ultimately fun, approachable, and honest. Opening track "Where Have All the Bad Times Gone (To)?" features disarming insights like "I'm not a sucker/ but I play one in real life." It's followed by a gleefully absurd 50s pop number written in the ugly aftermath of a breakup. Bless these guys for having a sense of humor. — Corbie Hill - Charlotte Viewpoint

"Joy to Amigo"

Charlotte-based trio Amigo — comprised of Slade Baird (vocals, guitar), Adam Phillips (drums) and Thomas Alverson (bass) — always has a "wish list." But the group's list is filled with North Carolina-based musicians.

Following the release of the band's upcoming album, they can cross some of those names off the list. The album, slated for release in 2017, features special appearances by Jay Shirley (organ/piano), Nick Golub on pedal steel and John Teer (Chatham County Line) on mandolin/fiddle.

"We meet a lot of people playing around the Carolinas and we definitely wanted to have a N.C. connection, so we picked our top choices and both of them were luckily available," says Baird.

"In the studio we have a chance to flush out our songs in a way that's just not economically possible to sustain live. So to be able to make our Pet Sounds or, you know, highly orchestrated baroque pop masterpiece, we want to bring in the best players we can find and we look to our local/state community of musicians."

The 2017 album will be a follow up to the band's debut album, Might Could, released in 2014. For the new album, the trio ventured over to Kernersville to record with Mitch Easter at his studio, Fidelitorium Recordings. Local act Temperance League has also recorded albums there.

Amigo previously recorded "I Wanna Live ('Cause I Don't Wanna Die)," a surprisingly upbeat, gospel-tinged track, at Fidelitorium. Baird describes it as being a sad song on the album, while adding that it's also pretty uplifting.

"It's about the stuff that's always a cosmic bummer. It's about life challenges — loss of friends, grown up relationships — and some pretty dark stuff, but we took a '60s pop approach to make it more fun and orchestrated," says Baird.

This track is on key with the band's positive musical vibe despite lyrics that tend to deal with darker subject matter.

"It's just my natural way of processing the world," says Baird. "I tend to try to lighten up the darkness a little bit or take a little bit of a sarcastic/ironic approach to things that are reality, whether it's good things or bad things. It's kind of like personal therapy."

Amigo will be hitting the studio to finalize mixing and mastering for the new album in the coming weeks. Unlike the first album, for which they went into the studio with all songs completed, the new album will feature some tracks that were created spontaneously.

"They were just beamed out of the cosmos," Baird says.

Meanwhile, others tracks like "Underground Medicine" were a long time coming. Baird said it took him three years to pen the lyrics and, finally, the track materialized during the latest recording process. It was inspired by a Rolling Stone interview, conducted in the '70s, with country musician Doug Sahm. During the interview, Sahm says "I'm Scorpio with Capricorn risin', Gemini moon," a line that Baird has nestled into the bridge of the song.

"I'm not 100 percent, but I'm thinking about giving him a songwriting credit if I don't have to give any money to the estate," says Baird.

Another song on the album is "You're On Your Own Trip Now."

"It's directly influenced by psychedelic, highly illegal mushrooms but not in as bonehead a way as that would imply," says Baird. "It's got the groovy music but it's a fictionalized breakup song in the form of a lullaby."

Though Baird feels there's no overall theme to the album, he does believe that loss and the wisdom that comes with maturity are reoccurring trends on the album.

"Then again, there's also that arrested development, butt-headed, rock and roll that is definitely a part of everything we do to," says Baird, 39.

At Amigo's upcoming show at Visulite Theatre on New Year's Eve, fans can get a taste of the band's new tracks. But for those who just can't wait, the band is also planning a Christmas Eve surprise. They recently hit up the Sioux Sioux Studio to record "Kristmas in the Kremlin," a Christmas song that Baird wrote in the '90s with his friend Brent Campbell. The song is slated for release on Dec. 24 and will be available for download on the band's Bandcamp page where there will be a "pay what you can" option with proceeds going to Charlotte's Time Out Youth.

"It was one of these songs that every Christmas we ended up playing at Christmas parties or at Christmas shows. It's always got such a great reaction that it was a shame it hadn't been properly recorded," says Baird, "It's our Christmas gift to fans." - Creative Loafing Charlotte

"Charlotte’s Amigo revels in the catchy hooks"

The band name Amigo is intended to send out good vibes, and that’s exactly what the Charlotte rocking roots trio’s debut album, “Might Could,” does.

“When we picked a band name I had three criteria,” explains singer/guitarist and chief songwriter Slade Baird, sitting in Nova’s Bakery in Plaza-Midwood on a recent afternoon. “It had to have a positive connotation. I wanted it to be exotic. And it needed to be memorable.”

The name, which replaced the former lawsuit-courting moniker Old Milwaukee, fits a group that nearly everyone that encounters it and its music seems to like. Amigo draws fans with its congeniality, charisma and universal songwriting that revels in memorable hooks. It celebrates the release of “Might Could” at Snug Harbor Friday.

The album, which “American Songwriter Magazine” praises as “unexpected and serious songwriting rendered by a band capable of vast extremes,” made its debut on Spindale’s taste-making Americana hub, WNCW, last week and the group was featured in an on-air interview Wednesday.

“We were won over to Amigo at first listen,” says the station’s midday host and producer, Joe Kendrick. “Their music shows that they’ve paid attention to roots music masters like Roy Orbison, Marshall Crenshaw and Jason Ringenberg while remembering to make music that’s uniquely their own.”

Part of that individuality stems from Baird’s diverse musical background from obvious ’70s country-rock to less apparent ’90s grunge and ’80s pop. He grew up in Clover, S.C., on the Ramones, the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, but kept his radio tuned to Magic 96.1 – Charlotte’s now-defunct oldies station. The sock-hop rave-up “(Miss You) Everyday That You’re Gone” is his tribute to that type of Gary U.S. Bonds ’60s pop. It was originally a slow song written during his divorce. That’s the kind of juxtaposition you find on “Might Could.”

“Best Laid Plans” was written during a summer when “people I’d grown up with were dropping dead,” he explains. It’s a heavy rumination on life, death and God against a chugging country-rock tempo with a ripping guitar solo. Like much of the album, Baird says it was influenced by deceased Tex-Mex songwriter/musician Doug Sahm. The Tex-Mex feel certainly comes across on “Oh Easy Rider,” which Baird calls his “impulse to write that macho dude song” in the vein of “Honky Tonk Women.”

“The songs on this album all come from personal experience, even the ones that sound lighthearted,” explains Baird, wearing a brown sweater, long curls and gold-rimmed glasses.

Baird, who played in Charlotte bands before moving to Philadelphia for a corporate job after studying graphic design at the University of South Carolina, decided to devote himself seriously to music after moving home.

He formed Old Milwaukee (now Amigo) with Phillips 3 1/2 years ago and recorded “Might Could” with North Carolina-based indie-rock producer Scott Solter (the Mountain Goats, John Vanderslice) in Monroe and Durham in 2012. The group waited until it could properly tour, market and distribute the album to release it. It’s still early, but the album seems to be catching fire.

What grabs listeners first are the hooks and the easy sing-along nature of the songs. “The melodies – that’s my personal measuring stick,” says Baird. - The Charlotte Observer

"Live review: Amigo, Evening Muse (8/24/2013)"

Charlotte's Amigo is unhinged, but I mean that in the nicest possible way. The cowpunk-tinged hard-rockabilly trio is open-hearted, joyous and wickedly funny, yet its superbly crafted melodic rock 'n' roll rides a streak of giddy mania.
In fact, when Amigo took the Evening Muse stage Saturday night, the trio's energy was almost too much. Slade Baird's scorching guitar, Adam Phillips' Keith-Moon-crazed-yet-in-the-pocket drums and Craig Lentz's nimble bass runs almost buried Baird's lead vocals. Yet by the close of the trio's second number, the collision of of crisp Tom Petty chords and Replacements' stagger that is "Best Laid Plans," the sound had balanced out, and Baird's expressive voice rang rich and clear.

Fittingly, Baird was dressed in bright red, because he was on fire. The doo-wop vocals and sock hop slip-slide of "This Old Girl" were lifted to a higher plane by Baird's fretwork. Kicking in where the sax break would dwell on the song's 1950s models, Baird's distorto guitar bristled with the grimy energy of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Introduced as "a song about fucking," "Easy Rider" boasted a reckless Tex Mex rush that recalled the glory days of Doug Sahm and his Texas Tornadoes. Baird's guitar break barely kept to the rails as he spit out licks like Alvin Lee burning through "Going Home."

Throughout the evening, Baird's fretboard flights were anchored by the telepathic interplay of Amigo's precise and playful rhythm section. Yet the combo could not be mistaken for a mere raw power trio, a bare-bones platform for guitar hero pyrotechnics, because Amigo was all about the songs which were rock solid and engaging.
According to the band, most of the songs in its setlist have been crafted over a long haul, with the germ of some tunes going back to Baird's college days. This perfection has not honed the edges off the trio's oeuvre. Indeed, Amigo's song craft walks an exhilarating line between finely tuned pay-off and imminent collapse, and that tension keeps Amigo crackling. As a result, the rockabilly shake, rattle and roll of "I Love You" sizzled with punk rock passion.

"Good Luck" was a roof raising shout-along about the joy of being alive. Even the bitter break-up tune "Every Day That You are Gone" was leavened with witty humor and raucous, rollicking good cheer.

Yet, for all the fun, grit and noise, it was during the band's quieter moments that Amigo excelled. The Southern Gothic "Murder of Crows" opened with haunting a capella harmonies pitched halfway between the Laurel Canyon sweetness of Crosby, Stills & Nash and the country noir of the the Louvin Brothers. The number's spooky sense of stillness was only enhanced by punctuations of searing tremolo guitar. The soaring, almost sacred, group vocals of "Gospel Ship" contrasted nicely with smart-assed lyrics and a vintage '60s beat group rave-up that would have done the Yardbirds proud.

After jumping up and down onstage, playfully teasing out the end of numbers with drummer Phillips and bantering cheerfully with the crowd, Baird paused to catch his breath. Pokingfun at himself for being winded, he noted that a similar thing happened to him at a recent Superchunk concert when he ill-advisedly waded into the mosh pit. "I'm having a flashback to that," Baird grinned. "I guess we're having a lot of flashbacks tonight." As if to prove his point, Amigo closed with a riotous full blooded assault on Nick Lowe's power-to-the people chestnut "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love & Understanding."
On Saturday night, Amigo walked the line between flashback and forward momentum, merging Gram Parson's humane and relevant country to populist folk and hard rock swagger. Nodding to a treasure trove of rock 'n roll greats, Amigo imbued its influences with freshness, energy and an invigorating punked-up attack. To paraphrase another flashback, a quote from consummate showman and wild-man Jerry Lee Lewis, Amigo were "all killer and no filler." - Creative Loafing Charlotte


“So I started this damn country band/Cause punk rock is too hard to sing” sings Ryan Adams at the end of the Whiskeytown’s song “Faithless Street,” the title track of their début album. It’s a line that’s always stuck with me and seems to define alt-country in many ways. Faithless Street is one of the quintessential albums when it comes to the alt-country genre, a true mix of indie rock and pure country that seemed to be popping up in the tobacco fields of North Carolina in the 90’s. Amigo are no 90’s revivalist by any means, but their music flows from the same fount, grown from deep within the Carolina soil.

Amigo’s debut album Might Could touches on different genre bases with a wide array of influences overall. Live, the three-piece band lean towards a more classic rock sound, but on the record the honky-tonk and country influences really come out along with a slew of others. In the opening seconds of “Where Have all the Bad Times Gone (To)” a twangy roll of the ivory and the singing of a steel guitar welcome listeners with open arms — with that song title and those tones you’d think you were in country heaven. One thing that Amigo seem to have captured most on Might Could is the art of diversity from song to song without losing the ability to tie it all together. Just as the opening track pulls from country music staples, the next song pulls heavily from 60’s pop and Doo-wop. Later in the album “Oh, Easy Rider” is a straight Western burner with a perfectly recorded and written horn section. Might Could is filled with fine moments, but none are better than the couplet of songs “Old Testaments and Nail Bombs” into “Jud Blood,” a beautiful two-minute interlude in the middle of the album.

We caught up with Amigo frontman Slade Baird to chat about the new album and what they’ve got in store for the future. In addition to their show Friday night at New Brookland Tavern, Amigo will also be performing on the SceneSC stage at the State Fair this year and at Fall for Greenville, another event which we’re proud to be sponsoring. If you’re attending Hopscotch Music Fest in Raleigh, catch them at one of their day shows!

Your new album Might Could has been well received all over and is still going strong. Tell me a little about the recording with Scott Solter.

We had a really firm idea going in as to how we wanted the record to sound. We knew we were pressing vinyl and we knew that we wanted a really warm and classic sound, as high fidelity as a studio record should ought to be. We found Scott living in a corn field in Monroe, NC, just outside of Charlotte. A quick look at the guy’s resume and you know he’s a badass, so I called him and we talked about music and I told him about the band and what we were looking to do and he had time in his schedule (and this guy is always working) so we jumped at the chance to work with a guy who has worked on so many great records. He’s meticulous, but laid back if that makes sense. We felt very comfortable working with him and jumping right in and making big creative choices that would result in our first record it meant a whole lot to be able to just trust him to do his thing. He taught us a lot about the recording process because honestly we went into it pretty green. I had a big list of notes about the instrumentation and the kinds of sounds we wanted, but having a pro like Scott at the helm meant that we wouldn’t have to make a lot of mistakes to find the right sounds and it freed us up to just play and make a record we could all be proud of. Scott’s also hilarious and has a story for any occasion, so that made the sessions a lot of fun even during the parts of recording that aren’t any fun.

How long had you been working on these tracks before you took them to the studio?

We had been a band since 2011 and started recording in July 2012, so we had about a year of testing them in front of audiences and figuring out what kind of band we were before we went into the studio. We actually finished writing one of the songs in the studio. We had a long hiatus after the first session due to different personal commitments so we didn’t actually finish recording until New Year’s Eve. Then we had to wait for our schedules to work to mix, so that was in the spring of 2013. Then we had to save money and learn how to start a record label so that’s why it took a year and a half for it to come out, but the wait was worth it. Plus, we had some changes in the lineup and that was a setback, but now that the album is out and the band membership is solid and we’ve played almost 50 shows this year, I am happy with where we are right now and excited about moving forward and looking forward to recording again.

Amigo‘s style seems to move gently from song to song, but I like to think of it as a honky-tonk alt country album. Does that seem fair? What is Amigo‘s style to you?

I like “Honky Tonk Alt Country”! I think since we play live as a 3 piece we have a lot of classic rock’n’roll elements that come out. And the influences come from everywhere, we all like so many kinds of music. But when we started the band, I was definitely holding us up against all the great 90’s Alt. Country music that came out of American independent rock, hardcore, punk rock kids getting into country music. I steal from those people any chance I can get! Other immediate influences include 60s pop and 70s country rock. People like Bob Dylan and Doug Sahm. But we take inspiration from wherever it comes. We don’t want to be stereotyped too much and then have to disappoint anybody when we come out with our reggae album (I AM KIDDING)!

All year Amigo‘s been playing steady runs of dates. How do you balance it all with your other projects?

We just make it the priority. By the end of the year we will have done about 50 shows, which is not bad at all considering we still have day jobs and haven’t lost them (yet). I do play in another band called Motel Glory, but we just work around each others’ schedules. Amigo is definitely moving toward being a touring band so we just keep making the radius bigger and trying out new places. Last year it was the Carolinas and TN. This year we did a 2 1/2 week southeastern tour that took us through the Carolinas, GA, AL, TN and we even went up to NYC, Philly and Baltimore. We have a couple of festival type gigs coming up and we’re playing some day parties at Hopscotch and then it’s back to playing as many small club gigs as we can before the end of the year. And then next year we figure out how to do twice as much. Part of my selfish, personal goal of starting a band was to see America with my friends. So, for all the bummer shows you end up playing where nobody is there, I asked for it and it’s worth it.

Might Could seems loose personality wise in a great way, but always stays tight musically. Was this something you were actively going for in the recording?

Totally – We work hard to make our recordings sound as “professional” as possible because we believe in the songs and we want to give people their money’s worth – the live show is a different story because having fun trumps sounding like the record live any day. But we also have fun playing the songs and so there’s an undeniable energy that comes across (because we do have so much fun and actually like all the songs and playing together). We were absolutely going for that kind of sound, but I think it’s just the kind of music we make, rather than an intellectual decision making process. We might have something to say if you want to dig into the lyrics, but we want hearing our music to be a joyful experience. Dancing is encouraged!

Lyrically speaking, what’s the songwriting process for you. Is there some light that turns on for you or maybe you hear a great story and turn it into song. What’s it like?

Songs are always a total surprise. I don’t know where the hell they come from and I try every day to figure that out. Sometimes they will pop up and I will know that they have been growing naturally from some experience in my life. Sometimes I will remember a story that I read or a book that I read and it will spark a song. Sometimes it’s from the news or real people or friends or enemies that I really know. Sometimes I will just hear a song and say, “I want to write a song like that.” But the best ones come out of the blue. I write stuff down all the time and sometimes it ends up being part of a song that comes together later. Like “Where Have All the Bad Times Gone” was me trying to write a Silver Jews song. I started playing chords and singing real low and the chorus just came out. Then when I started working on the lyrics, I felt like it needed more of my own personality, which is a little more in your face than David Berman’s delivery, so I started singing it an octave higher. Those lyrics are real personal and came from actual personal experiences. “Best Laid Plans” was written one day when I was reading a book about Doug Sahm. I got to the end of a chapter and was letting it sink in and I thought to myself, “If I were Doug Sahm, what would I be doing right now?” and the answer was writing a song! So I got up and got my guitar and then what came out doesn’t sound like Doug Sahm, it sounded like me trying to be Jonathan Richman and then the lyrics are about some pretty dark shit but I tried to give it some humor and turn the bad stuff into something good.

What’s on the horizon for Amigo?
On the horizon, I touched on it in an earlier question, but the big thing is doing more. We did a lot this year and I’m proud of us and the places we have played and the opportunities we have had, and we worked our asses off (and we’re booked through the end of the year) but next year we have to work twice as hard, play twice as much and, hell, have twice as much fun, why not? - Scene SC

"30 Days Out"

This Charlotte trio is bubbling under with its brand of rootsy rock/Americana/what-have-you. Other critics have compared them to Neil Young and Crazy Horse, always a good indication that a group won’t be serving up the seated-and-laid-back kind of performance that can give some roots music a bad name. These guys lean more toward The Flying Burrito Brothers than, say, any relatives of Mr. Mumford. Brevard is a bit of a drive, but you’ll be able to say you saw Amigo before they made it big. - Mountain Xpress

"Amigo makes music among friends"

"That's me trying to write a song by Flannery O'Connor," Amigo's singer/guitarist and chief songwriter Slade Baird says. He name-checks the late, great Southern author, who once noted, "While the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted," as he discusses "Old Testaments and Nail Bombs," a disturbing little ditty off the Charlotte trio's debut album, Might Could. The mournful acoustic ballad shines a light on the schizophrenia of extreme faith, a twisted morality where the sanctity of life can justify killing abortion providers.

That's pretty heavy shit for a raucous, rockin' good time trio like Amigo. The band, which includes Baird's longtime friend Adam Phillips on drums and newest member Thomas Alverson on bass, brings its pop 'n' roll-tinged alt-country to the Visulite Theatre on May 9. (The show kicks off Amigo's first big tour — a two-week trek through the Southeast.)

Yet Baird notes his favorite author's blood-and-thunder ruminations are also wickedly funny. "O'Connor had a great sense of humor," he says. The same could be said for Baird. When he was growing up in Clover, South Carolina, his dad told him that the words to Credence Clearwater's "Bad Moon Rising" were "There's a bathroom on the right."

"I thought that was hilarious," Baird says. "That's when I began my obsession with finding humor in dark lyrics."

Discovering the Ramones and Stooges in high school, Baird tempered punk's strum-and-drang with his dad's beloved classic rock and his mom's enthusiasm for oldies. "The melodies, voices and production of '60s pop music are way better than anything that came later," Baird says. "It's dramatic and emotional. It has a beat you can dance to. You can fall in love to it."

Amigo's effortless blend of rockabilly rumble, 1970s Laurel Canyon sweetness, gospel-tinged country noir, and exhilarating Tex Mex has garnered Might Could considerable praise. American Songwriter lauds the album's "unexpected and serious songwriting rendered by a band capable of vast extremes."

According to Baird, many of the band's songs date back to Amigo's previous incarnation as Old Milwaukee. (The trio dropped the litigation-baiting moniker prior to starting sessions for its album in 2012.) Some like the Jonathan Richman-inspired "This Old Girl" go back to Baird's college days.

Others like "(Miss You) Every Day That You Are Gone" stem from Baird's ill-fated move to Philadelphia, where he struggled with depression, a soul-sucking corporate job and a marriage coming apart at the seams. "I started writing it while I was going through a divorce, but it's not about my ex-wife," Baird recalls. "It started as a slow song. Then I realized if I sped it up, it sounded like '60s pop, similar to 'Quarter to 3' by Gary U.S. Bonds. So I added doo-wop vocals and hand claps to make it a party song."

Baird laughs at the suggestion that Amigo's magic lies in its ability to transmute underlying darkness into affirmation, but he acknowledges that divorce and cubicle servitude led him to insight and self-knowledge. "It made me more compassionate and less superficial," he says. "It gave me more to work with when writing songs."

Those songs, ranging from the country noir and a cappella harmonies of "A Murder of Crows Outside" (written by the band's good friend Matt Cosper) to the rollicking Tejano whirlwind "Oh, Easy Rider" (Baird's tribute to legendary songwriter and Texas Tornado Doug Sahm), lend soul and good-timey grit to Might Could, a record finished in 2013 but not released until this year.

According to Baird, once the LP was mastered and mixed, "I realized I didn't know anything about putting a record out or what to do with it once I did, so I took time to research and make plans." Those plans have reached fruition, with Amigo set to market and publicize the album with its regional tour.

Touring suits Baird and his compadres just fine. He describes playing live as "the best feeling in the world."

"When the band is in the moment, the music carries us," Baird says. "The crowd and the music are floating. Then we land and everybody claps and I say, 'Hell yeah!' And it's because we just created something special together that only existed for one moment in time."

It's in that moment that Amigo lives and breathes, and it points the way forward for Baird, who wants to be a bit like his inspiration Doug Sahm, "not some tortured genius, but a groovy musician that follows my own instincts."

"Amigo makes music that's an inclusive good time, not an exclusive party for a bunch of pseudo-intellectuals who are all going to get corporate jobs and live in the suburbs anyway," he says.

That's why Amigo's name is appropriate. "I like that we're a band, not a project," Baird says, noting that the band members are friends and that longtime fans are like an extended family. "That's what Amigo is all about. Making music with my friends." - Creative Loafing Charlotte

"Amigo’s Upbeat Wit"

The problem with many new country types is how intent they seem on proving how miserable they are. From the gallons of whiskey to the endless brooding, the litany of sorrows too often rings false. Unless you’re born an old soul like Gram Parsons or Jay Farrar, how much mileage can a 20-year-old really accumulate, anyway? And that’s what makes Amigo, a new trio out of Charlotte, such a refreshing change-up. Led by singer and guitarist Slade Baird, who at 36 does have some actual miles on him, the group’s Scott Solter-produced debut, Might Could, revels in the highs of music-making rather than the depths of despair. “You put a guitar in my hand, I turn into a 15-year-old again,” says Baird, who grew up in the then-small town of Clover, N.C., and lives there again now. “When I was in my early 20s, that’s probably exactly the kind of stuff I was writing — this put-on world weariness. But real quickly I realized how phony that can come off in the wrong hands, and in my hands, it was wrong. And I feel a little silly standing there complaining about how hard I’ve got it, because I kind of don’t.” Still, it’s not like Baird’s been living in an exalted state of happiness; he’s got his share of sad bastard country-rock song-fodder. For starters, the freelance-video-editor-by-day formed the band with drummer Adam Phillips and bassist Craig Lentz after returning to Clover when his marriage broke up, with Thomas Alverson eventually moving in to replace Lentz. But even when the narrative fare is less than ebullient, Amigo maintains a careful sense of balance. That tone kicks in immediately with Might Could opener “Where Have All the Bad Times Gone (To)?” a rousing up-tempo rocker built on barrel-house tack piano, pedal steel, and the let’s-don’t-jinx-this rhetorical query of the title. The CCR-leaning kiss-off “Good Luck” follows right on the heels of the raucous “I Love You,” where the grinding guitars sound like something off of the Old 97s’ X-flavored classic, Too Far to Care. There’s even a saxophone-fueled sock-hop tribute to Gary U.S. Bonds, “(Miss You) Every Day That You Are Gone,” and a sunny, Farfisa-and-mariachi-horns Tex-Mex number, “Oh, Easy Rider,” which seems plucked from Doug Sahm’s ’70s catalog. Those tracks serve as foils for the Eric Rudolph-inspired terror ballad “Old Testaments and Nail Bombs,” and Sunday-morning-at-church fare like “Gospel Ship (Just in Case).” Baird’s more serious songs do tap into traditional Southern themes — Flannery O’Connor’s work even gets a quick nod — without waving the rebel flag or feeling affected. Some of that distance stems from the band’s shared punk rock background and what Baird calls its “f#!k-you attitude.” But of that biblical, Southern Gothic imagery, he concedes, “[They were themes that] scared and confused me at an early age, but at this point I’m more comfortable with exactly who I am and where I’m from.” That mature approach extended even to recording with the veteran Solter, who has worked with The Mountain Goats, Superchunk and Spoon, among others. The sessions, three-and-a-half weeks in total, may have been a first, but the group knew what it wanted to hear. “There wasn’t a fetish for doing everything completely old-school,” Baird says of the mixed analog and digital process. “We were just interested in getting the best fidelity we could get, and Scott suggested this hybrid, that it’d speed up the process and sound just as good. We just trusted him to do what he does.” The results reveal a band comfortable enough in its own skin to cede control where it should. And based on the LP’s impressive grasp of, and joyous take on, a hatful of different rock ‘n’ roll influences, Baird’s right to focus on the future rather than remain mired in the past. - Free Times

"Amigo Bringing Rock Back To Clubs"

If you've gone to see a show recently and wondered, “Where have all the rock bands gone?,” the Charlotte, N.C.-based trio Amigo might be exactly what you're looking for.

The band's straight-ahead rock 'n' roll style is perfect for a packed bar on a weekend night. But there's more than just good times and cranked guitars in Amigo's music.

The band, which performs at 10 p.m. Saturday at The Radio Room in Greenville, incorporated a healthy dose of old-school country and Southern rock muscle into its debut album, 2014's “Might Could,” even paying occasional homage to the Southern gospel that surrounded all three members of the band in their youth.

“I think that (country and gospel) both influence us a whole lot,” Amigo singer-guitarist Slade Baird said. “Those kinds of music and the general Southern picture with the religious overtones that are unavoidable. There are characters that you only meet in the South, and they became influences in our lives.

“At least in my growing up, those influences were always there, and I didn't realize it until I started writing songs.”

As far as the presence of rock 'n' roll on the music scene right now, Baird said it's still alive, if a little less prevalent.

“I think there are still a lot of great straight-ahead rock bands out there,” he said. “But as far as being on the small-club, indie-rock circuit, I wish there were more. I wish that there were more young people doing this kind of music in the tradition of American independent rock 'n' roll.

“There was such a healthy scene back in the '80s and '90s; there were countless stripped-down, back-to-basics rock bands that were still doing interesting things, lyrically, and still had some of that punk-rock edge.”

In an increasingly music-saturated world, Baird said labels and genres have their place but they can be just as harmful as they are helpful.

“I think that it's just human nature to want to put a label on something,” he said. “It helps us understand stuff quickly. It helps filter through a whole lot of noise. So being able to put a very specific definition on something helps weed out the stuff that you're less likely to be into.

“But, as a music fan, those kinds of divisions become less important the broader my taste gets. If it's good music, then I want to hear it. If it speaks to me, I want to listen to it. I don't feel like I'm alone in that.”

In the end, though, Baird said he believes that the work Amigo is doing will be a calling card for future fans.

“I'd love to get more hype, but at the same time, it's a craft,” he said. “I'm guilty of wanting more fame, fortune and attention than we've gotten so far, but it's something that you work at. If you're in it for the long haul and you work your (tail) off, then you're going to find your audience. It's just a matter of cutting through the noise.

“But that's part of the journey, and people that like what we're doing are going to find us if we're good enough.” - Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"Amigo plays 'greasy, gritty rock 'n' roll'"

When Slade Baird, the lead singer and guitarist of the Charlotte, N.C.-based trio Amigo, describes his band's sound, his explanation is simple and direct.

“We're a rock 'n' roll band,” he said. “There are a lot of labels that get thrown around about our music, but at the core, it's all rock 'n' roll.”

But Amigo's brand of rock 'n' roll isn't like what is heard on most commercial radio stations these days. It's greasy, gritty roadhouse rock; loose-limbed, rollicking just-got-paid Friday night rock that's designed to be enjoyed in a sweaty bar with some cold beverages.

Sure, there's more than a little honky-tonk twang on Amigo's just-released debut album, “Might Could,” but despite the occasional lyrical introspective, down-and-dirty rock is the name of the game.

The band's roots date from 2011, when Baird moved back to North Carolina from Pennsylvania after his marriage ended.

“When I was up there, I just got super homesick,” Baird said. “I grew up in the Carolinas, and my instinct was always, 'I've got to get out of here.' I didn't realize how much a part of me where I was from was. I ended up getting divorced, and as soon as that happened, I decided I was moving back to North Carolina and starting a band, and we were going to be serious about making new music.

“This wasn't going to be a hobby. Adam Phillips, the drummer, was the first call I made, and we started working on songs together.”

Phillips and Baird had been playing on and off since 2006, but after going through several bassists, they couldn't find the right fit until Thomas Alverson joined.

“Thomas has really brought his own great personal energy to Amigo,” Baird said. “And when he joined, I got really excited about the lineup.”

After extensive songwriting and touring, the band went into the studio with producer Scott Solter (Superchunk, Mountain Goats) to record its debut album.

“When we recorded it, we had the idea in mind that we wanted to make the kind of record we'd enjoy listening to,” Baird said. “So we got all the best musicians that we knew into the music and put it together with Scott.” - Spartanburg Herald-Journal

"Amigo Might Could Album Review"

Why howdy there folks! What brings your weary ‘ol soul on down here to our humble little digital saloon? You say lookin’ for some new tuneage to spice up your travels and relaxing moments? Well you sure have come to the right place, seein’ as how we got all kinds! I’m gonna start you off with this pretty little number right here, Might Could by Amigo. Might Could is the full-length debut from Amigo, and it’s a treat. Its musical influences are all over the map. The album starts strong with a country western influenced number called “Where Have All The Bad Times Gone (To)?” Now don’t be thrown off by the country influences. Amigo ain’t singin the same cookie cutter corporate pop country tractor and beer bullshit that most folks associate with the label.  These guys are singing genuinely introspective and reflective lyrics in the Hank Williams tradition.”Where Have All The Bad Times Gone (To)?”  is followed by a real dancy doo-wop/rock and roll number called “(Miss You) Every Day That You Are Gone.” Other highlights include the alt country rockin’ good time of “This Old Girl,” the rock driven religious reflections of “Gospel Ship (Just in Case)” and the mariachi influenced good time of “Oh, Easy Rider.” The lyrical content of the album ranges from heartbreak to theological reflections to the simple love ballad. If you’re particularly fond of Wilco’s earlier work, the more country influenced songs by The Shins, or any variety of southern or roots rock; you’ll more than likely enjoy this album. This is as good as any debut album can get, and I greatly look forward to following Amigo’s career. Recommended Tracks: All of them. Listen to the whole album. GRADE: 9/10 -

"Music Review: Amigo"

Amigo throws East Texas drinking music into a blender with more modern hippie influences and pours out its debut album, [Might Could] , forging its own sound in a new school of Southern rock. The Charlotte band sings about the best and worst of times with both innocent and omniscient perspectives, while creating a back yard grill-out atmosphere.

The album starts off with a bang with “Where Have All the Bad Times Gone (To)?” and “(Miss You) Every Day That You Are Gone,” which are catchy beer clinking tunes. The latter features backing saxophones, which is a unique combination with winding steel guitar.

The record slos down with “Best Laid Plans,” a song about life’s paradox: things can be so great one day and terrible the next. The song, attempts to cope with an unresponsive God. “A Murder of Crows Outside” continues to slow the album down with steel guitar playing, before reaching its lowest point in “Old Testaments and Nail Bombs.”

“Jud Blood” is the turn of the album and sounds like the light at the end of the tunnel. “Gospel Ship (Just in Case),” is a response to “Old Testaments,” and returns the album to the original up-beat tempo established in the first few tracks. The final three songs follow suit with this pace to exit the album on a crescendo of good vibes.

This bonfire record may leave listeners with a beard and thick Southern accent. Amigo is certainly a band to watch in the Southern rock scene, as it has proved with a single album it’s a force to be reckoned with.


Might Could

Southern rock

✭✭✭✭ - The Daily Tar Heel

"30 Days Out: a look at upcoming concerts"

With a sound that recalls everything from Poco and Moby Grape to the more countrified moments on George Harrison‘s All Things Must Pass but still possessing a punk ethos, this Charlotte-based trio displays a wry sense of humor in their songs. Are they pop? Country? Rock? Americana? The easiest answer is “yes.” The sly Kinks reference of the rollicking “Where Have All the Bad Times Gone (To)” will bring a smile to listeners’ faces. - Mountain Xpress


2013 "Hide a Light" EP
2014 Might Could LP
2015 "Love's Made a Fool Out of Me" single
2016 Amigo/The Long Canes split 7"
2018 "And Friends" LP



Amigo is a rock and roll band. This might sound quaint or even a little passé but it’s an entirely apt and appropriate description. Amigo is a guitar, a bass, a drum set and buckets full of songs and its members share a proud and unrepentant belief in rock & roll’s divine promise and power to shake audience and band alike to their core.

The Charlotte-based trio, comprised of guitarist Slade Baird, bassist Thomas Alverson and drummer Adam Phillips, has been putting rubber to road in senses both theoretical and literal since their inception in 2012, developing their keen sense of harmony and interplay, honing their songwriting chops and developing an absolutely white-hot live show which has become the main vehicle for their brand of rock and roll evangelism. The intervening years have found the band playing shows numbering in the several hundreds and driving their trusty van tens of thousands of miles as they regularly traipse around the southern United States and beyond, taking their unpretentious, straight-from-the-heart shaggy dog story to the people.

Cut in the summer of 2016 with famed producer/engineer Mitch Easter at his Fidelitorium in the decidedly anti-music biz hamlet of Kernersville, North Carolina, And Friends is an album that is at once raucous yet intimate, traditional but ambitious, and finds the band culling influences from 50’s doo-wop to Hank Williams, John Prine to The Replacements, Tom Petty to Dinosaur Jr.

Baird, like any great songwriter, builds his songs from the foundation up, luring the listener in and getting them moving with songs that would be at home in any honky tonk, dive bar or juke joint. But astride the plinking, pounding piano, hard-driving rhythm and swamp-scorched guitar solos sit the album’s subjects, whose true depth is revealed and unraveled upon closer inspection via Baird’s tightly packed lyrical prowess.

Blending the standard fare of exultant joy, rock and roll knuckleheadery, heartbreak, longing and love unrequited with much deeper searching, yearning and asking of the big questions (What does it all mean? Why do I matter? What comes next? What the fuck are any of us doing here?), Amigo’s songs unpack themselves slowly and show their myriad faces with each new listen.

Between name-checks of Damocles and references to the astral bodies, Amigo keeps their feet rooted firmly in the dirt as they reminisce about the old clothes we used to wear and postulate on love, sin and the path of the righteous. It is this balance of the real and the surreal, the imagined and the tactile that makes And Friends farther reaching than any adjective-laden rock subgenre.

It sounds beer-soaked but it is metaphysical. It feels heartland but it is soul-unburdening. It’s decidedly American but viewed through a philosophical lens.

Most importantly, it’s fun. It’s exuberance defined. And thus, it is rock and roll in its purest form.

And Friends is an album that encourages you to keep dreaming, to keep believing, to understand that the power of rock and roll still lives and breathes and can still offer salvation. Not surprising, then, to find that it’s progenitors are a band who play every show and sing and play every note as if it is a blessing, a celebration and welcome every crowd, every listener as if they are family.

Band Members