DRAKE WHITE AND THE BIG FIRE

Country
8:00pm | Saturday Aug 19, 2017
Anthem

Every reaction begins with a catalyst, some initial event that sets things on their inexorable course. For Drake White, it goes back to something raw and elemental in his debut album Spark.

“I learned how to play guitar and keep people’s attention around a fire,” explains the Hokes Bluff, Alabama native. “A spark can start a fire that can keep you alive and sustain you. So this is the beginning for me. This is the first strike of the flint.”

The spirit of Spark comes from those simple, early days spent enjoying the outdoors among friends in the warm glow of a fire. And though he’s now a city dweller with all the complications and distractions that entails, White still seeks the freedom and deeper connections he felt when the chorus of nature and the strums of his guitar blended into one harmonious song — the kind of contentment he sings about in the swirling majesty of his single “Livin’ the Dream.”

“We grew up free. We grew up on 4-wheelers, riding through the backwoods,” he says. “We grew up hunting and fishing and being out in the Appalachian Mountains. People don’t understand how beautiful north Alabama is until you see it in person.”

Save for “Livin’ the Dream,” White wrote or co-wrote the remaining 11 tracks on Spark, working with red-hot producers Ross Copperman and Jeremy Stover through the process. He also brought in his own band for a handful of tracks to capture the energy of his live shows. The first sound on Spark — before the pulse-quickening “Heartbeat” kicks into gear — is the voice of White’s late grandfather speaking from the pulpit. Several of these ghostly transmissions from the past appear on Spark, all extolling the virtues of love, brotherhood and nature. It’s a touch of the surreal that nods at White’s fondness for Pink Floyd’s psychedelic masterpiece The Wall, but also a deeply personal gesture that matches his vision perfectly.

Spark covers an entire spectrum of emotions beyond these statements of character and self-definition. In “Making Me Look Good Again,” White cruises on an R&B-style groove to express his gratitude for his better half, while “Waiting on the Whiskey to Work” finds him embodying a man spun out on love and heartbreak. Then in the tropically-themed “Equator,” he flies south to give his nomadic side a little time to play.

Must be 21 or older to attend.