The Brook and The Bluff hail from Alabama, a fact so near and dear to their hearts that they managed to work it into their band name. Guitar player Alex Bolton, drummer John Canada and bassist Fred Lankford are all from Mountain Brook, Alabama, while vocalist/key and guitar player Joseph Settine is from Bluff Park, Alabama. Put the two places together and you get The Brook and the Bluff.
They began as an acoustic cover band consisting only of Bolton and Settine in their senior year at Auburn University. Not long after, they added Canada, and in late 2017 they added the fourth and final member, Lankford. From there they began releasing singles such as Rush, Straw and Back Through The Lense. Most of the members had known each other for years before the band came to be. Lankford and Bolton grew up as next-door neighbors and the two went to the same high school as Canada. Settine and Bolton met during their freshman year at Auburn.
All four bandmates grew up with choral backgrounds, a tool that they utilize to the fullest in the vocal-driven bluesy alternative music that has become their staple. The band believes that their greatest strength is a toss up between their strong vocal capabilities and Settine’s poetic lyrics. Generally, Settine will come up with a skeleton of a song and then bring it to Bolton to be workshopped. After that, the band will go over the basic structure until they find something they like, then begin playing it over and over until they feel that it’s just right and add in the harmonies from there. Their songs are always changing due to their collaborative songwriting process, but the spontaneous nature of the songs make their live shows even more exciting.
In August of 2017, The Brook and the Bluff returned to their roots and played a concert at their alma mater. They weren’t sure how many people to expect at the time, but the turnout ended up being huge and the feeling of support they got was incredible. Another unforgettable show is when they played Burke Place in Alabama. They grew up watching shows at WorkPlay, a venue that has housed acts such as Little Bigtown, Zach Brown and even Bob Dylan. Now The Brook and The Bluff can say that they’ve also played there, which they described as extremely humbling.
The Brook and The Bluff offered some sage advice for musicians who are just starting out: primarily, that hard work beats talent every time. They also said to treat music like a job and not as a hobby. Keep the drive and work at it, don’t be afraid to take risks or get out of your comfort zone and to always bring a spare set of keys and strings.
To keep up with this band, you can follow them on Instagram @brookandbluff or on Facebook @The Brook and The Bluff. Their music is also available on Spotify and Soundcloud, and their next Charleston show will be at the Pourhouse on June 1, 2018.