San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Equal parts psychedelicized Allman Brothers and boogiefied Grateful Dead (with a dash of Commander Cody thrown in), Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit capitalized on the nuevo-hippie movement that swept through America in the early '90s. The Atlanta-born Hampton has been kicking around the Southern music circuit since the early '60s; as the Hampton Grease Band, he released Music to Eat on Columbia Records in 1969. After the Grease Band folded, Hampton released a solo effort (One Ruined Life of a Bronze Tourist in 1978) and then founded New Ice Age, which soon evolved into the Late Bronze Age. The Late Bronze Age released two albums, Outside Looking Out (1980) and Isles of Langerhan (1982). The Colonel recorded a second solo album, Arkansas, in 1984 and by 1987 the group had broken up. Hampton then formed the Aquarium Rescue Unit, an eclectic congregation adept at everything from country-swing jazz to meltdown Southern boogie and over-amped gospel bluegrass. By the time of 1992's Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit, the band featured Oteil Burbridge on bass and vocals, guitarist Jimmy Herring, Matt Mundy on electric mandolin and vocals, and drummer Apt. Q258; the record documented a live date from the previous September. The band's first studio album, Mirrors of Embarrassment, was released in mid-1993, concurrent with an appearance on the H.O.R.D.E. tour. Shortly after the release of Mirrors of Embarrassment, Hampton left the group, but the Aquarium Rescue Unit continued touring and recording without him, releasing In a Perfect World in 1996. Hampton released the career retrospect Strange Voices: A History 1977-1987 in 1994 and soon formed a new band, Fiji Mariners, releasing an LP under that name in 1996. Also in 1996, Hampton was given his first motion picture role -- playing Morris in Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade. His new Fiji outfit spent most of the next few years on the road and the inevitable (for Hampton anyway) live album, Live, was released in 1998. The group continued to tour extensively, on up to May 1999 when they disbanded. During the ensuing hiatus, Hampton performed live with various ensembles and appeared in Phishman Mike Gordon's 1999 film Outside Out. In 2006, Hampton formed yet another jam supergroup, the Quark Alliance, and released Give Thanks to Chank in 2007. The Colonel is currently playing a unique blend of blues and jazz with his band The Quark Alliance. Still rolling down the road, Col. Bruce continues his quest for the tonal center at each exit #6.