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Leave Jeb Brinkley to his own devices between the hours of midnight and five a.m. and something’s bound to happen. With a little whiskey and a guitar lying around, the Chapel Hillian— originally from Irmo, South Carolina — is prone to wax poetic on every shade of heartbreak. From Appalachian folk ballads to the Mississippi Delta Blues, Brinkley channels it all in concise, foot-stomping iterations of old-time sounds. Listen to Bevel Summers and you’ll hear what it’s like to be a twenty-something reared on Jim Croce and Roger Miller cassettes playing in the car on the way to school, and a mother's homemade rendition of The Beatles as a lullaby before bed.
In its entirety, Bevel Summers is Brinkley and fellow songwriter David Hutcheson, multi-instrumentalist Dylan Turner, vocalist Alicia Best, drummer Jack Fleishman, pianist Matt Greenslade, and fiddle/trumpet player Ian Williams. Together, these seven talented musicians have the power to transform a room full of introverts into a foot-stomping ruckus, checking hipster pretension at the door in favor of instantly memorable lyrics and songs that plant themselves in your head in seconds flat.
Bevel Summers performs with the philosophy of quick draw pistoleer the Sundance Kid from the famed 60's post-modern Western : “I’m better when I move.” Likening comparisons from Johnny Cash to The Wailers to Fleetwood Mac and back, at a Bevel Summers show, you’ll find yourself singing along with choruses that seem to burst through the confines of whatever hole-in-the-wall joint or basement the band is playing, and you might feel, for an instant, as if you're on a back porch in the middle of the woods, the sounds of fiddle, summer crickets, lush harmonies, and the plink of guitar strings melding so effortlessly.
At their core, these songs were borne of the blues, but in their live incarnation, Bevel Summers is joyful. This is what youth feels like — the highs and the lows, and the late nights full of whiskey and music in between.
Bevel Summers first came together in the Fall of 2010 after several late night impromptu jam sessions between David Hutcheson and Jeb Brinkley. The two were Seniors at UNC-Chapel Hill at the time, David an English/Creative Writing student and Jeb a Dramatic Art major. Both had gone through break-ups with long term girlfriends, both could carry a tune and wrote songs occasionally, and neither were the slightest interested in school anymore. The two began working on songs together at a break neck pace, staying up some nights until the sun rose writing and playing their tunes in Jeb's living room (much to the chagrin of Jeb's roommates). They'd skip class to sleep, or better yet, attend class and write lyrics rather than paying attention. Adopting the moniker "Reverend Bevel Summers" after a character from a Flannery O'Connor short story, the two worked on their technique, practicing obsessively, and began playing gigs at open mics and at local friends' parties within weeks. By the start of 2011, they had recruited friends Alex Van Gils (upright bass) and Andrew Magill (fiddle) and were playing their first paying gig outside of Carrboro, NC at The Kraken Bar to a crowd of friends (one who biked 8 miles in the cold), and some local Rednecks. Their live performances caught on quick for their rolicking energy, charismatic onstage antics, and upbeat tunes.
Within the next few months Bevel Summers began a regular monthly gig at The Southern Rail and recorded their debut studio album with Jeff Crawford (Light Pines, Roman Candle) and James Wallace (Mount Moriah, Mandolin Orange) at Arbor Ridge Studios East in Chapel Hill, NC, featuring instrumentation from friend Andrew Marlin (Mandolin Orange). The album was mastered by Nick Petersen at Track and Field Recording in Chapel Hill.