Homecoming: The Brook & The Bluff Headline Mason Music Fest

The Brook & The Bluff members, top from left, John Canada, Alec Bolton, Joseph Settine and Fred Lankford hail from the Over the Mountain area and now reside in Nashville.

By Rubin E. Grant

Alec Bolton is beyond excited.

“I’m thrilled,” he said.

What has Bolton so excited is Saturday’s Mason Music Fest 2022 at the Avondale Brewing Company.

Bolton and the band he co-founded, The Brook & The Bluff, will be one of the headliners at the music festival, which coincides with the 10th anniversary of Mason Music.

The Brook & The Bluff features musicians from the Over the Mountain area and is now based in Nashville. Bolton (guitar/vocals), a Mountain Brook graduate; and Joseph Settine (vocals/guitar), who grew up in Bluff Park and was visiting Hoover, formed the band. They met in college at Auburn University and played in a band called The Freewheelers.

They formed a duo in 2015 and later added two more Mountain Brook High graduates – John Canada (drums/vocals) and Fred Lankford (bass/vocals) – to the band, transforming the group into a dynamic live act.

Each of them worked for Mason Music as teenagers. Settine, Bolton, and Canada worked as Mason Music teachers to students in the traditional classroom, and Canada and Lankford trained in the Rock Band League before moving to Nashville.

“We did that for several years when we formed our band,” Bolton said. “We are honored that they have considered us for their first music festival. Mason Music has always meant a lot to us. When I got the call from Will Mason (Founder of Mason Music) and he said they were doing a concert in our hometown of Avondale and wanted us, it was a really cool day.

“I remember seeing Will Mason when he was in a band and I thought it was wonderful. I wanted to be like him. He was like my idol.”

Will Mason said The Brook & The Bluff were one of the first bands to contact them when they decided to host a music festival.

“We wanted to involve one of our alums,” he said. “I’ve seen them grow and mature over time, and in many ways that’s what we want for all of our students.”

The Brook & The Bluff has been based in Nashville for 4½ years and quickly became known for its blend of vocal harmony, soulfulness and groove.

“I feel like we’re playing four different genres, with some indie rock, some folk and some soul,” Bolton said. “We’re just a band with instruments we play and we sing and try to make it sound good,” he added, laughing.

Recently the band added Canada’s older brother Kevin Canada to the mix on keyboards.

“He’s one of the best keyboard players I’ve ever seen,” said Bolton. “He’s pretty much full-time now. The band is much better because of him.”

The festival starts at 1pm on Saturday and is an open format with a main stage as well as an outdoor educational area and VIP lounge. In addition to The Brook & The Bluff, there will be live entertainment from national, regional and local artists including Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Gatlin, Lady Legs, Jahnah Camille, Shaheed and DJ Supreme.

“I think it’s a pretty unique variety of acts,” Mason said. “It might not be for everyone, but I think it’s something that anyone can enjoy. I think this is going to be a show that people will remember for a long time.”

In addition to musical performances, there will be a variety of food trucks, as well as educational activities, face painting, a photo booth, drum circles, student performances and an interactive hip hop exhibit for youth hosted by Shaheed and DJ Supreme.

General admission tickets are $25, VIP tickets are $125. All proceeds benefit the Mason Music Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to changing lives by providing music education scholarships to families who are eligible for financial assistance.

All ages are welcome, but all participants, including children, must have a ticket due to capacity restrictions.

“Mason Music Fest is our way of bringing people together around music to give back to the community,” Mason said. “As funding for the arts in public education continues to decline, we are stepping into the gap to raise money for music education grants at the Mason Music Foundation.

“We want our guests to have a great time at the event and feel good knowing their ticket is helping teach music to someone else in Birmingham.”

Since opening in 2012, Mason Music has offered private guitar, piano, vocals, drums and violin lessons to thousands of students of all ages and abilities, along with music camps, group classes and the Rock Band League.

Mason Music has studios in Cahaba Heights, Mountain Brook Village, Bluff Park, Greystone and Woodlawn.

More details on Mason Music Fest and tickets to the event are available at masonmusicfest.com

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