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 churning out a handful of
releases, most notably their 2014 debut long player Might Could, 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.
Building his songs from the foundation up, Baird adroitly lures the
listener in, 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
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
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.