In 2005, fresh out of high school, Chambers County native Johnny Powell and a couple of his friends began the journey that fills the minds of adolescent music fans everywhere – starting a rock band.
Once the ball started rolling and the band started playing shows after high school football games around East Alabama, lead guitarist Johnny Powell knew this is what he wanted to pursue.
Self taught on the guitar, Powell began learning the instrument around 10 years old. He would practicing on his father’s acoustic guitar. Powell’s passion for music ignited, and from that point on, it became a central part in Powell’s life and something he knew he wanted a career in.
Growing up on Southern rock and country music as well as mega-bands like The Beatles, that’s where the band originally found its niche.
“It’s what we all grew up on,” Powell said. “That’s what we knew at the time.”
Aptly named after a prominent street in his hometown, LaFayette, Alabama, Powell said the band’s name has been the same since the group’s inception. While the name may be simple, the name has a pleasant ring to it, and the name is “as good as any,” Powell said.
However, as the music industry continues to evolve, Alabama Avenue is there to grow and expand with it.
“We’re expanding in terms of what we’re doing and the songs we’re playing,” he said. “We’re trying to create a party atmosphere. We’ve really branched out.”
After about three years, the original band took a temporary hiatus for college, life and family, but after reforming in 2015 with primarily new members, Powell and the rest of Alabama Avenue are working on their music full time and are eager to pursue their passion.
The bands current roster boasts the triumvirate of lead guitarist, Johnny Powell; lead vocalist, Kevin Welch and drummer, Michael Ledbetter. However, the band has long-term plans to further develop the band, both in terms of musical influences and band members themselves.
“We’re hiring a bass player right now and have goals of expanding the band, including a horns section and keys and things like that,” Powell said. “We want to be able to do more and play a larger variety of songs, and to be able to do that you have to have multi-talented musicians.”
Despite the bands previous Southern influences, Powell described Alabama Avenue as primarily a “party band.”
“We want to provide the soundtrack of your evening’s entertainment,” Powell said.
The band has gone through plenty of style changes, a lengthy hiatus and a cast of new members, however, for the first time, all three members of “Alabama Avenue” are able to put all of their efforts into the band and music as a whole – a change that Powell believes will pay off.
After sticking to their Southern-rock niche, Powell realized that in order to evolve, he and the band would have to develop new sounds and try out different genres.
Alabama Avenue recently played a show at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn on Nov. 10 and a multitude of other gigs lined up for the next couple of months. With new influences including pop, Motown and R&B, the band’s future seems bright.
“Our short-term goal right now is finding a bass player,” Powell said with a light chuckle.
After that, Powell admits that the next step is to continue to develop a unique sound, cater to their new “party band” persona and then build a fan base.
Eventually, the goal, as is for most bands, is to get signed by a record label or entertainment agency.
“They’ll take over booking, which will free up some time for us and allow us to start writing and composing our own original music,” Powell said.
With each member dabbling in writing original music on their own before coming together, Powell is excited by the possibility of collaborating with the rest of the band whenever the opportunity presents itself.