Birmingham SlossFest profile: Judah & the Lion

Birmingham SlossFest profile: Judah & the Lion
Judah & the Lion will perform at SlossFest on the Blast Stage July 16. (Sully Sullivan)

Performer: Judah & the Lion

Type of Music: Folk pop

About: Building its own audience from a rigorous touring schedule – they played 150 shows in 2015 alone – Judah & the Lion have a loyal fan base that shows up for their eclectic sound and entertainment.

“Our shows are all about the experience we share with our fans,” said the band’s singer and frontman Judah Akers, per the group’s website. “We know that people work everyday jobs or go to school, and they’re dealing with life, and yet they’re still choosing to spend the night with us. We don’t take that lightly. We give them an experience. We throw an absolute rage. And all the songs were made with that in mind. They’re fun, carefree and youthful, and we live our lives that way, too.”

The experience of live shows is so crucial to Judah & the Lion that they’ve kept that in mind during the recording process, most recently in their second album, Folk Hop N’ Roll. Released in 2016, award-winning producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton) produced the album in just two short weeks, recording in short takes to capture the band’s real and raw performances to showcase the same electricity that fills the band’s live show.

“This record was made for the live show,” Akers promises.

Judah & the Lion’s hit single from the album, “Take It All Back 2.0,” recently reached the No. 1 spot on the Alternative charts.

Growing up, the members of Judah & the Lion listened to all different genres of music: folk, hip-hop, rock ’n’ roll and pop. Their music style pulls a little bit from each to make the group’s own unique sound.

“We wanted to make something raw, something with attitude,” said Akers. “We all grew up loving these hip-hop beats, so why not make an album that has the grit of Run DMC or Beastie Boys, along with all the folk instruments that we play?”

Akers met the band’s drummer, Spencer Cross, mandolin player, Brian Macdonald, and banjo player, Nate Zuercher, during college in Nashville, Tennessee. They quickly bonded over their wide-range of musical genre interests, and decided to form a band with its own flair and style.

“It’s a wide-ranging sound,” said the band’s website. “Fuzz bass, hip-hop percussion, distorted banjo riffs, and super-sized melodies all stirred into the same mixing pot.”

Discography: “Folk Hop N’ Roll” (2016), ”Kids These Days” (2014), “Sweet Tennessee” (2013).

You may have heard: “Take It All Back 2.0,” “Suit and Jacket,” “Going to Mars,” and “Twenty-Somethings”

Playing at SlossFest: Blast Stage, Sunday July 16, 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Sloss Music and Arts Festival takes place at the historic Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham July 15-16 and features 40 performers on four stages. Tickets can be purchased here.

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