People pile into an empty room, lights dim and anticipation rises as four guys huddle together, ready to step out onto the stage and change the energy of the room in an instant with their music. This is The Brook & The Bluff — four Birmingham natives who came together with a passion for music and an extraordinary natural ability to harmonize.
This band’s journey began at Auburn University, when the band’s songwriter and lead singer Joseph Settine and guitarist Alec Bolton decided to start a cover band that played at venues around the Auburn area.
The name came from where Settine and Bolton were born and raised. Settine was born in Birmingham’s neighborhood Bluff Park, and Bolton was born in the Mountain Brook neighborhood.
Their vocal harmonies drew the admiration and steady crowds of college students, but it was not until the pair met drummer John Canada that the band began to evolve.
Canada, pursuing a masters in accounting at Auburn at the time, grew up with a love for music from participating in choir all his life and being a part of an acappella group on campus.
Canada said he recognized the talent in Settine and Bolton and wanted to be a part of what they were doing.
“I saw them playing at Moe’s in Auburn and offered to play on the drums,” Canada said.
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Canada said he thought his time with the band would be short-lived since he had a job already lined up for him once he graduated. However, he said he quickly realized there was no time like the present to follow his passion.
Canada turned down the job and returned to Birmingham in May 2016 to focus on the band and his music career full time.
“It was not a hard decision once I started playing with Alec and Joseph,” Canada said. “We started with small stuff, and there was a chemistry that made things lock in pretty quickly for me.”
Canada and Bolton attended the same high school in Mountain Brook along with the final and newest member of the band, bassist Fred Lankford.
The band’s first single “Masks” helped the band catch attention.
“The actual song took about a year and a half because we left it for a while,” Settine said. “I originally wrote the lyrics when I was interning to be a teacher.”
After writing the song, Settine said he quickly realized music was the path he needed to pursue.
Settine said even though every artist is different, there is a process to songwriting. He said sometimes he will sit in his basement thinking of lyrics or go back to pieces he wrote years before.
“I mainly draw inspiration from experiences in my own life,” Settine said.
Each of the band members were involved in choir while growing up, which they attribute to their level of harmonization in the choral compositions within their music.
“All four of us were in choir growing up,” Canada said.
The style of The Brook & the Bluff is reflective of indie rock and the blues. The band described its sound as soulful and a melting pot of many genres.
Each member of the band has a different musical background contributing to the compilation of the band’s sound. Bolton said he is influenced by John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Settine said he is influenced by The Beatles and Frank Ocean. Canada said he likes Amos Lee and Jack Johnson. Fred said he appreciates the grunge scene and the band Ripe.
The band has been recording and traveling since late 2016 and has been featured on Spotify’s Viral 50. The band was invited to play with Judah and the Lion at the Kentucky Derby Festival.
The band said that they want their shows to be a special experience for everyone who hears them.
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