When Alan is not behind the kit rockin’ a show, most likely he’s putting something together somewhere - or maybe taking it apart. Alan is a builder – that simply who he is. Whether it’s a band, a studio or a website – Alan builds it. And that doesn’t mean calling a contractor or a programmer. Alan rents the space, designs the layout, buys the lumber, assembles the gear, wires the rooms, builds the isolation chambers and, oh yeah, produces and mixes the records. He buys the URLs, gathers the content, takes the photos and movies, encodes the backend and launches the site. Of course, he is best known for playing drums in Soulive – a band he founded and that has toured the world over and again. He has shared the stage with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Chaka Khan, from Dave Matthews to John Scofield. To the outside, he is a world-renowned drummer, respected by fans and musicians alike and that is a big part of his story. To those who know him well, there is another part of his story. Alan has come to define the modern concept of the renaissance man – a man, known for a certain skill, but equally adept at many others – husband, father, builder, producer, engineer, web designer, guitarist, keyboardist and creative conceptualist.
Alan grew up in Buffalo, NY in the 1980’s. There were strong musical influences in Alan’s life from the very beginning. To say that the Evans family is musical is to say that the Kennedy family has a proclivity for politics. The record player spun in the Evans household the way the TV blared in many other homes. Alan’s father, Willie, and his older brother, Rod, played DJ and the assembly of vinyl they accrued was broad and vast. Miles Davis, Jimmy Smith, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Kool & the Gang, Jimi Hendrix, the Headhunters – these were just some of the sounds emanating out of the Evans living room.
In fact, Willie, was a drummer himself. He had a Silver Sparkle 54 Gretch kit in the basement. Alan grew up listening to his dad playing along to records on that kit. Eventually, Alan would descend to the basement and follow in his father’s ritual. When Alan got good enough, he inherited the kit and took that very same kit on the road for years.
Alan’s musical journey is inextricably intertwined with his brother, Neal. A few years younger, Neal became a prodigious pianist, vibes player, and eventually gravitated towards the Hammond B-3 organ. At the age of 12, Alan started gigging out around town. Within years, Neal and Alan were playing real jazz gigs at clubs around Buffalo. In those days, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams were Alan’s Gods. It was later, when Alan began to dive into guitar, that he discovered funk and rock musicians just had a lot more fun.
The history of Soulive – now 13 years old – has been widely told. It has been an incredible journey with much promise still ahead. It’s hard to believe that with all of the records and tours, Alan, Neal and Eric are still in their early 30s. Alan’s career pre-dates Soulive. He and Neal were two-thirds of Moonboot Lover, a popular band in the mid-90’s and Alan toured heavily with Karl Denson after that.
While Alan’s musical pedigree is clear, his other accomplishments may say as much about him as his strictly musical ones. No one taught Alan how to mix a record or, literally, build a
studio. His dad wasn’t Bill Gates, programming late into the night. He didn’t go to business school to learn how to run a successful studio. While Alan may have an innate sense of how to pop the hood and check the transmission, it is his intellectual curiosity and uniquely American entrepreneurial spirit that pushes him to discover and execute. Most recently, Alan has designed and built a studio from scratch in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Alan is the chief engineer and producer at the studio and is working on a wide array of projects. The studio has become production HQ for all Royal Family Records projects – Alan and Soulive’s record label venture. Alan is also now focusing on his new band, the Alan Evans Trio with guitarist Danny Mayer and organist Beau Sasser. The trio is all set to record a brand new album of Alan's original music this February and begin touring in the spring of 2012.
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