“We jam.” That’s what the ‘About’ section on Spafford‘s website says. Plain and simple. This four-piece from Prescott, Arizona formed in 2009 and consists of Jordan Fairless (Bass/Vocals), Red Johnson (Keys/Vocals), Brian Moss (Guitar/Vocals), and Cameron Laforest (Drums/ Vocals). They play the perfect fusion of alternative rock, funk, jazz, bluegrass, and dance jams.
Spafford is currently on their “For Amusement Only Tour 2018” and heading to Florida for their first ever Florida run. For this leg of the tour, they are bringing along local Orlando legends The Groove Orient for three of the shows (excluding Orlando). The consecutive four-night Florida run starts down south at Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, January 31, then rolls up the west coast to Crowbar in Tampa, then over to The Social in Orlando, and finishing east side at Jack Rabbits in Jacksonville. If you don’t have tickets yet, you had better get on it. The Jacksonville show sold out yesterday, which has been the case on several tour stops. Very limited tickets remain for the rest of the Florida run. Check the band’s Facebook for a chance to win tickets to the shows.
We are headed down for our first headlining shows in Florida this week!How bout we give away a pair of tickets to each…
Posted by Spafford on Sunday, November 19, 2017
The only other time Spafford has played in Florida was a few months ago at SUWANNEE HULAWEEN at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida on Halloween weekend. Other than Umphrey’s, they were the band I was most excited to see.
Ok, on to the interview. So, it is 4:00 PM on Monday, January 29, and I’m finishing up work at my office. It’s been a long day already so I punch out and get on the horn with Jordan for a quick interview. The band is pulling into a rest stop somewhere on the interstate, on their way down from their last show in Atlanta two days earlier. Using my office speaker phone to call, I attempt to record the audio of our conversation on my cell, but after a few interchanges of not being able to clearly hear or be heard, I abandon the speaker phone.
Turns out that the band has some roots in Florida, as Jordan previously resided in Gainesville, although he grew up in Tennessee as a Vols fan before moving to Gator Country. (Go Noles!)
What are you listening to while their on the road? The answer was anything from dirty south rap to electronic to Kendrick Lamar.
The first Spafford song I ever heard was “Reprise”… its the funkiest damn thing with a few minutes of solid building up into the most shredding riff I might have ever heard (you know it when you hear it). Anyway, a lingering question that was always on my mind was: what is “Reprise” reprising? Well, after plenty of listening to their numerous live albums, and their one and only studio album (self titled), it came to me. They occasionally play “America” then go straight into “Reprise.” On the studio album, the last minute or so of “America” slows down to a funky crawl. Jordan says that one time when they were playing it, someone stopped playing and someone else kept playing, and it eventually became a reprise of the ending of “America” and a new song was born.
How did Spafford get started? They were just another bar band. Jordan says “it was kind of a happy accident.” They were attracting crowds (aka Spaffnerds) and getting people to dance, so they just kept doing it, and one day they realized the had themselves a real band. They have been touring for about a year straight now, which included an opening spot for Umphrey’s McGee at over a dozen shows.
If you look on Spotify, there is one studio album and six live albums, including a new outstanding and pure live studio album titled Abaculus: An Improvisational Experience (released August 9, 2017). This album was recorded in a single take and is presented as an hour-long single track. This is similar to the Cabin jams they live streamed from a cabin in the Colorado mountains. Is any new studio music in the works or are there any future plans for more cabin jams? Not really, it sounds like touring is the main thing on the mind.
What is a Spafford? Jordan says that the first name of the band wasn’t that good, so they had to find another name. A good friend of theirs who was in law school was learning some new words and said: “Hey, call your band Officious Tort Fever.” Tort is a wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to civil legal liability. Well, another friend, Chuck Johnson (Spafford’s original lighting designer and co-lyricist), didn’t like that name and couldn’t remember how to say it, so he says “Is that your real band name? Uh, let’s call it…. Spafford” which is actually his middle nickname.
What is Spafford’s spirit animal? “Crazy story…” says Jordan. They were driving on Interstate-17 in Arizona one night in Jordan’s old van, everyone else is sleeping. All of a sudden an enormous, massive white elk is standing the median, straight out of Fargo or Northern Exposure. Their jaws drop. “Do you guys see that? Is that the spirit of the forest or something?” Spafford is a great white elk.
Spafford encompasses an all-in-one identity that brings a diversity of pace. Like several other up-and coming-bands in the scene like Tauk, The Main Squeeze, The Fritz, and Big Something just for example, they’re emerging from the jam matrix of Phish, Umphrey’s McGee, Disco Biscuits, quickly climbing the ranks and stepping up huge. No show is the same, and different vibes during the day can bring different jam styles in the night, from alternative rock to jazz to shredding face to spacey jams. And one can always expect a cover or two, and I love their cover spectrum: from “Eminence Front” (The Who) in Atlanta just a few days ago to the more commonly covered “Mad World” (Tears For Fears), from “Soul To Squeeze” (Red Hot Chili Peppers) to Long View (Green Day) and of course there’s some Grateful Dead up in there.
Follow Spafford on Twitter for live tweets of setlists.
Check out my videos of Spafford from Hulaween.
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