By MADOLINE MARKHAM
Pop, bluegrass, country, instrumental, rock and classical—it’s a musical combination you don’t typically hear at once. But you also don’t often hear a sound that appeals to both teenagers and their grandparents alike.
That’s where Act of Congress comes in.
You might have seen them performing at Mt Laurel; with the Alabama Symphony at the Alabama Theatre in December; at Doo Dah Day; or at countless local festivals, churches or weddings.
The band, who rehearses at guitar player Adam Wright’s house off Caldwell Mill Road, will release their second album, Worth Fighting For, later this month.
For this album, Act of Congress explored more of a rock sound. The band even flew in drummer Matt Chamberlain, who went on to play for Bruce Springsteen’s new album, to record their new songs.
“I like that there are twists and turns and curveballs (in the new album),” Wright said. “It was kind of an experimentation to see how we would sound in a rock format. Our producer had told us that a great song is a great song no matter how you perform it.”
Still, their live performances will stay more true to their acoustic roots.
The band gives a sneak peak of this new sound with “You Never Will,” which is available for listening on their website.
When you hear their music, both new and old, you hear Act of Congress, but you also hear all their influences: Coldplay, singer/songwriter music, John Mayer, musicianship.
Their resume boasts performances at Austin’s South By Southwest festival and opening for artists John Mayer, Edwin McCain, Toby Keith and Alan Jackson. They have also been recognized by Paste Online, SXSW, Disney, NACA, APCA and Billboard.
Still, the group said they purposefully have not done “the bar thing.” Wright said that nine o’clock is his bedtime after all.
Based on popularity of cover songs like “Paperback Writer,” the band released “Cover Up” on iTunes in 2009. The EP also includes covers of Radiohead, Coldplay and Postal Service.
Playing in Act of Congress is an everyday job for each band member, but their musical influence extends into the community in other ways too.
Mandolin/guitar player Chris Griffin, who grew up in Brook Highland, and Wright teach music lessons at Christ Church United Methodist. Wright leads music at Cahaba Park Church, and Griffin runs the rhythm section at Metro Church of God. Bass player Tim Carroll does freelance symphony and jazz gigs on the side, but he has cut back on these performances to focus on Act of Congress.
“I think our uniqueness comes from our diversity of skill sets and influences,” Wright said.
Managing the band is also their own business; they run all of their own booking, marketing and production.
“It’s like a marriage,” Carroll said. “You have to make sure you are on the same page with people to rehearse and make decisions.”
Act of Congress’ camaraderie is obvious when you watch them pray over their lunch together and chat about that day’s practice and the album in the works.
Their producer encouraged them to learn about the music business on their own and try it.
“We are in control for better or for worse,” said Carroll, who the others said is “the organized one.” “We do it because we love our music and we haven’t found someone who loves it like we do.”
The band has traveled frequently in recent years but is now trying to play more around Birmingham.
“We love music, so we are trying to figure out how to do it well and to balance it with the rest of our lives,” Wright said.
Act of Congress’ Worth Fighting For CD release party will be held at Workplay April 27 at 6:30 p.m. On March 10 you can hear them live at Moonlight on the Mountain in Hoover, and next month they will also play at the Barnes and Noble at Patton Creek on April 21.
For more information on Act of Congress, visit actofcongressmusic.com. Their music is also available on iTunes and on CD.