Lefty Hathaway Band
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Lefty Hathaway Band

Athens, Georgia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF | AFM

Athens, Georgia, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2011
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"Lefty Hathaway Melds Range of Influences"

Athens, Ga.,-based keyboardist Lefty Hathaway folds a wide range of influences into his playing.
On first listen, you’ll hear swampy Louisiana funk, Santana-style Latin jazz, strains of mellow Southern rock, a la The Black Crowes, and polyrhythmic workouts reminiscent of vintage Little Feat. His band members are equally skilled, playing rings around the average jam-band combo and keeping a sharp ear for hooks in their songwriting.
Hathaway’s skill comes from years of playing and a little familial luck. “I’ve been performing since I was about 4 years old,” he said. “I was lucky enough to get J.J. Cale’s piano player, Rocky Frisco, to teach me. He was a family friend.“
Cale’s longtime keyboard player was a big influence, but Hathaway sought many sources of musical input.
“When I was growing up in Oklahoma, I was influenced by Delta blues and swamp boogie,” he said. “The Meters and Dr. John were the kinds of music I really liked. And then when I moved down to Georgia in 2006, I really started to get into the Allman Bros. and Little Feat. So I’ve been able to take the blues sound and the Dr. John sound and add the Southern rock sound in with it.“
Hathaway’s songwriting is inspired by two great titans of 1970s rock. He has shared the stage with one.
“When it comes to writing, the two biggest influences I have are Lowell George from Little Feat and Leon Russell,” he said. “As far as lyrical prowess and songwriting capability go, Leon Russell is my biggest idol. I’ve had the chance to share the stage with Leon a few times in the last couple of years, and that’s been a really great joy.“
The experience of playing with Russell was both exciting and educational for Hathaway.
“When you’ve listened to someone since you were a kid, and you’re able to watch them on the other side of the stage from you, it’s pretty overwhelming,” he said. “But one thing it really taught me is that when it comes to songwriting and performance, it doesn’t really matter if you’re playing in a coffee shop or at Madison Square Garden, everybody has the same motivation to express themselves. It’s really great when you get to meet someone who’s a legend but who’s in the same boat as you.“
After Hathaway relocated to Athens and spent several years playing in the local music scene, he and some of his peers formed the Athens Music Collective, a group of musicians determined to both expand their influence on the music scene and help out good causes at the same time.

“In 2009, some friends of mine in Athens and I got together and realized that the music scene was thriving, and there were a lot of good bands out there,” Hathaway said. “But we wondered how we could attract each other’s fan-bases to the other bands. So we decided we would start playing a couple of shows a year where we all just got up there together and had a good time.
“People really started paying attention to those shows,” he said, “so we try to put on shows once or twice a year and then take the proceeds and donate them to a worthy local community college.” - Go Upstate


"Podcast Episode #1224 Lefty Hathaway"

Lefty Hathaway blocked out his childhood experience in musical theatre, but the desire to create his own music and perform it for a live audience has never waned. Hathaway’s childhood bounced from England to the US back to England, then Tulsa, and on to Seattle, Flagstaff, Colorado, and finally Athens, Georgia as an adult. These disparate locales and frequent moves led him to always feel like an observer to his environment, rather than part of his community, which influences his writing, but also contrasts with his love for Athens–where he finally feels at home.

Musically, Lefty’s path has followed some convoluted roads, as well; in Flagstaff, he was in an acid jazz trio and later a jamband–even working with a musician we have featured in the past who keeps popping up in other episodes, Courtney Jaye (also mentioned in the Neal Casal interview). Hathaway began as a drummer, and later became a keyboard player. He thinks of himself as a rhythm guy more than anything, drawing from both Stewart Copeland (drummer for the Police) and Gregg Allman’s keyboard playing. With rock and roll influences including Leon Russell and JJ Cale, as well as strongly from New Orleans style piano and organ, Lefty’s sound is both identifiable and cohesive.

Once Hathaway’s journey took him to Athens, though, he found a small town with a large community of mutually-supportive musicians. Jefferson Taffet of Lionz (another Athens band) and Lefty formed the Athens Music Collective as a way for many of the bands to take their unofficial support for each other’s shows and music to another level. Now three years after forming, they are redefining their mission statement, and seeking to create a more direct impact together. While not competitive with one another, there is a “you snooze, you lose” aspect to music opportunities, and loose organizations like the Athens Music Collective offer a way to move everyone forward and continue to build the community of musicians that makes Athens unique. - Country Fried Rock


"CD Review: Lefty Hathaway "Shacks""

Lefty Hathaway’s new album “Shacks” is a portal that will lead you through the history of music. From saloon style piano to synthesizers Lefty Hathaway uses it all to create a sound that is very classic while staying fresh. Lefty and his band dominate this album with a mixture of blues, funk, jam, country and rock all with a southern twist.
The album opens with the very soothing, laid back sound of “Coins in the Water.” This track has great backing vocals and very nice instrumentation that definitely gives a glimpse at what is ahead. The band then jams on the second track “Shacks” and Lefty shows his well-known talents on keys in the up-beat blues sounding “Long Hair Medicine Show Boogey” before getting to the heart of the album in “Pour House” and “It’s Alright.”
“Pour House” is one, if not the most, beautifully done tracks on the album. The band does such a great job making the music and lyrics fit together. It seems they paint a picture that almost cuts to the core. This is definitely a song to just put on and take in all of its wonder. Following “Pour House” is the country-blues masterpiece in “It’s Alright.” The first line of the song will have you hooked (“It’s alright that you’re shy when you talk…”) and it gets better from there. The lead and backing vocals sound perfect together with the southern accents and Avery Dylan’s guitar is stellar as it is throughout the album.
It’s tough to follow “Pour House” and “It’s Alright” but Lefty does so with the blues-jamming “New Ground,” the classic, groovy sounding “Mama Shake” and the wonderful instrumentation and use of percussion on “Baby Roux” to close the album.
Lefty Hathaway and his band really have a love for music and it shows. They are a very talented and versatile band that sound just as good live as they do in studio. “Shacks” is a quality album that definitely deserves a listen or two or three.
Key Tracks: “Pour House,” “It’s Alright” and “Dig a Pony(Live at Melting Point)” - Athens Music Junkie


"Record Reviews: Shacks (2012 Plough Lane Records)"

“I didn’t know you liked Norah Jones,” my roommate said without looking up from lunch—a frying pan filled with bacon, egg and cheese biscuits. Because he was right and because I really wanted at least one of those biscuits I forgave the sarcastic and hasty assessment of “Coins in the Water,” opening track on Shacks, the debut LP from Lefty Hathaway.

We never spoke of Norah again after that intro, but names like Randy Newman, Van Morrison and Dr. John run through your head as Shacks brings a soulful blend of Southern-fried funk and greasy grooves to the table on these eight tracks.

Timbales rumble. The lounge comes alive. Hathaway’s voice cuts through the tension on the album's title track: “Beating of your heart banging like a drum / Next wave sail right over amber waves / They tumble on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on,” and Athens has found the soundtrack to playing Frisbee in grassy fields all summer long. There’s Tin Pan Alley piano (“It’s Alright”) and speaking in tongues (“Mama Shake”) and a return to exotic Caribbean jazz rhythms (“Baby Roux”) that showcases the percussion prowess of Jonathan Solomon. Here’s hoping Hathaway scores a lucrative long-term performance contract at a high-end island resort near the equator that gets several hundred days of sunshine every year. - Flagpole Magazine


Discography

2005- Medicine Head (featuring ISM) Purple Swirl Records
2009- Live! Athfest (featuring the Half Dozen Brass Band) GhostMeat Records
2012- Shacks (full length LP) Plough Lane Records

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Bio

Lefty Hathaway is an American musician and songwriter who has played with many different artists and bands since the early 2000's, mainly in the US. Lefty Hathaway is known for his organ and piano playing as well as his gruff rhythmic vocal stylings. Lefty Hathaway is directly influenced by Leon Russell, JJ Cale, Dr John, Lowell George, John Medeski, Allen Toussaint, Herbie Hancock and plenty more. Lefty Hathaway has had the fortune of an amazing rotating roster of musicians in his live band for the past 15 years of performance, and currently is working as a quartet with Robert Kerstein, Jeff Beale, and Mike Twardoski. Currently Lefty Hathaway is an independent recording artist, but will be going into the studio summer of 2020 to begin work on an exciting collaborative project to be announced near its completion. Lefty Hathaway's philosophy to performance is centered around engagement with the listener, and believes no emotion should be undiscovered when crafting a song. 

"We like good music, you like good music, lets like good music together!" -Lefty Hathaway's band mantra 2020.

Band Members