ARU Reunites at the Georgia Theatre
On Monday, August 8, Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit reunited as part of the reopening of Athens, GA’s the Georgia Theatre The seminal jamband has a long history with the club and even recorded most of their seminal self-titled live album at the venue (a clip of ARU at the Georgia Theatre in 1990 is now available on Relix.com). The reunion—which was the first time the group had played together since 2007—featured all of the group’s classic members except for percussionist Count M’Butu and mandolin player Matt Mundy: Col. Bruce Hampton (vocals, guitar), Jimmy Herring (guitar), Oteil Burbridge (bass) and Jeff Sipe (drums). Keyboardist Matt Slocum—who has performed with Burbridge, Susan Tedeschi and other members of the ARU family—also played with the group throughout the night.
ARU opened their show with a few instrumentals before Col. Bruce Hampton made his way to the stage. Show highlights included a handful of blues covers, such as Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightnin’” and B.B. King’s “Night Life,” as well as ARU classics “Jazz Bank” and “Working on a Building.” The latter song featured an impressive bass / vocal solo from Burbridge.
The Georgia Theater officially reopened a week earlier on August 1 with a performance by area heroes The Glands. Several musicians were spotted in attendance, including Drive-By Tuckers frontman Patterson Hood. The following night Chuck Leavell headlined the venue with Randall Bramblett serving as his backing band. The show brought the theater’s history full circle: Leavell played the first concert at the Georgia Theatre in 1978 as a member of The Allman Brothers Band offshoot Sea Level.