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The gospel according to Alabama Shakes

The band performs Sept. 22 at Champions Square

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The first word came down from Andy "Be Wiser, Call" Bizer. New Orleans' own Saul Goodman moonlights as a manager for Hurray For the Riff Raff, and in late 2011, he was searching for a label home for Alynda Lee Segarra's then-unsigned country/folk band. But there was another group he wanted to talk about. One of the potential landing spots (and the eventual winner), ATO, had just inked a soul-revival quartet from Athens, Alabama, and according to Bizer, I had to hear their singer. The opportunity came a few weeks later, when Alabama Shakes made a proper New Orleans debut at One Eyed Jacks (with the Riff Raff as opener). That concert — for me and likely everyone who attended it — was one of the rare instances of hype being insufficient, of apocrypha becoming gospel. I had listened to the debut EP and liked it, but Brittany Howard's command over an audience is not something that can be recorded. She absolutely owned the club that night. The band returned in 2013 (at The Sugar Mill) and 2014 (for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival), but this is its first area show since the band released its second LP Sound & Color, which took the raw, ragged, first-take feel of Boys & Girls and exploded it in the sky, beautiful and strange. Corinne Bailey Rae opens. Tickets $42-$61.


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