You would think that with all of the attention being paid to the resurgence of Alabama soul music that someone like Heath Green would surely be on the radar of every A&R guy out of Nashville by now, yet for someone who has been quietly plying his trade for well over 15 years, Mr. Green has somehow managed to avoid the spotlight due to a lifetime of patience, hard luck, and working man’s caution. As a longtime fixture on the Birmingham music scene through groups like Mudpie, Fishergreen, and the Back Row Baptists, Green has carved out a reputation as one of the finest songwriters and performers around, combining gritty storytelling born out of the dirt and red clay of his home state with an electric delivery that’s on par with the best soul men of the modern era. Having toiled countless hours at dive bars and late-night haunts that have served as the real-time backdrop for his ongoing musical canvas, Green’s penchant for “tell it like it is” songwriting has made him a favorite among local scenesters in the Magic City music community, weaving tried and true tales of desperation, redemption, and devil-may-care attitude into a cohesive whole worthy of Delta blues relics twice his age.
But that’s really only half of the story. Having grown up on a steady diet of Stones, Faces, Humble Pie, and a lifetime of wanting to capture the live fire of artists like Ike & Tina Turner and the Joe Cocker/Leon Russell nexus, Heath’s uncanny ability to channel the best of his musical heroes is truly a sight to behold. From sidelong stage shimmies and full blast soul screams, to exorcising rock n’ roll demons with plaintive pleas for mercy and salt-of-the-earth salvation, there are few modes of musical catharsis his sonic world leaves untouched.
Having finally found a working unit of like-minded musicians to bring his songs to life in the form of the Makeshifters— consisting of his longtime musical partner Jason Lucia (13 ghosts, Dead String Brothers) on drums and half of Alabama indie rock savants Through the Sparks manning a blistering string section, with fretboard firebrand Jody Nelson on guitar pyrotechnics and Greg Slamen on bass— Heath may finally be on the cusp of the wider audience he has long deserved. Showcasing a unique blend of Swampers-tinged R&B and churning Zeppelin/Sabbath riffage— all tied together by Green’s smoky and guttural leave-it-on-the-stage delivery— the Makeshifters have created the perfect palette for one of the South’s most under-recognized frontmen to take his craft to the next level. Effortlessly navigating between the emotional and sonic extremes of songs like the mournful “Ain’t It A Shame” and the raucous take-no-prisoners guitar blitz of “Livin’ On The Good Side,” there are few bands below the Mason-Dixon line with enough brass to conquer the terrain these four gentlemen lay asunder any given night of the week.
From searing blues boogie and heartbreaking balladry, to maximum rock n’ roll with a side of fatback bounce, they’ve got it all and then some with enough to spare for the rest of us. And now it’s time for the rest of the country to choogle along with them and bear witness to the lightning in a bottle that is Heath Green & The Makeshifters.