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Statebirds (Jeff Sipe, Bryan Lopes, Neal Fountain, Mike Seal)

Bryan Lopes, Jeff Sipe, Mike Seal and Neal Fountain join us for from the far reaches of Georgia and come together to perform a moving night of music. Everytime these guys get together its like they invent a new sound of music and rhythm.

Jeff Siep: Jeff began to play drums in the sixth grade. Then In 1975, Jeff’s first stepping stone was attending the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. — One of Jeff’s dreams finally came true when he was accepted to Berklee in 1977. While at Berklee, Jeff studied under Bob Kaufman and Bill Norine, he attended clinics given by Alan Dawson and was taken under by his mentor Lee Venters. Jeff was lucky enough to attend Berklee with an impressive cast of musicians like Branford Marsalis, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern and Jeff Watts, Kevin Eubanks, Dean Parks, Steve Vai, just to name a few.

While studying at Berklee, Jeff met and played in a band with Steve Vai and Baron Brown called “Winter”. This experience turned Jeff on to a wide world of music and rhythm which gave him valuable tools that he still carries with him today.

After his stay in Boston, Jeff moved to Atlanta in 1983. There he began gigging and teaching at the Atlanta Institute for Music and at a popular hang out for Atlanta drummers, Atlanta Drums and Percussion. Jeff spent time sitting in with local musicians and was introduced to Bruce Hampton through Dan Wall, a keyboardist that he had been playing with…..and that’s the rest of the story. It seemed too fitting that their first meeting took place at a wedding because not only was there a marriage there was a wedding of vast musical intention. Jeff then asked Oteil Burbridge and Jimmy Herring to sit in on this free willed musical band wagon and the Aquarium Rescue Unit was born.

In 1996, Jeff met up with Swedish-born bass extraordinaire Jonas Hellborg and the Memphis guitar monster Shawn Lane. This Trio did many Europoean tours as well as American tours. Jonas released 4 recordings of this band including “Temporal Analogues of Paradise”, a classic.

Jeff’s interest in bluegrass music led him to 3 years with “Leftover Salmon” where he gigged almost non stop! The recording “Nashville Sessions” was a high lite of that period having an opportunity to work with Randy and Earl Srcruggs, Bela Fleck, Waylon Jennings, Lucinda Williams, Taj Mahal, & Jerry Douglas among others.

Jeff took on his own creation known as the Zambiland Orchestra. This experimental big band featured Ricky Keller conducting members of Phish, Widespread Panic, Michael Ray and the Cosmic Crew, the Derek Trucks Band, the Fiji Mariners, MOE, Little Feat, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Warren Haynes, Stanton Moore, the Atlanta All-Stars, Little John, Sonny Emory Randy Honea, and many others.

The Zambiland Orchestra performed as a charity event for six years in a row every December just before Christmas at the Variety Playhouse as a benefit for Hospice and the food bank.

By the 4th year into it there where 83 players on stage being conducted by the great spirit Ricky Keller and Jeff. One invited guest was Matt Butler who was so inspired by this spirited event that he began his own version called the” Everyone Orchestra”.

Even more recently Jeff teamed up with long time friend and guitar maniac Jimmy Herring on a project known as Z, that’s Project Z to most. Together with fellow Atlantian producer/musician Ricky Keller and mega organ/keyboardist Oliver Wells, Project Z recorded a self titled debut album filled with juicy fusionisk tunes that gathered praise from all realms. Since then a second Project Z has been released as well as Jeff’s solo release “Timeless” featuring Paul Hanson, Derek Jones, Jason Crosby, Kofi Burbridge, Count ‘M Butu and Derek Trucks.

Currently Jeff is touring with Mike Seal and Taylor Lee as the “Jeff Sipe Trio”.
Mike Seal on guitar; Taylor Lee on bass.

Other Jeff Sipe releases include:
* the “Jeff Sipe Band” “Studio Live” with Mike Seal on guitar, Neal Fountain on bass and Matt Slocum on keys.
* “Art of the Jam” with a host of many great musicians
* Jeff Sipe, Paul Hanson & Jonas Hellborg

Neal Fountain: Hailing from the musical hotbed of Athens, GA, 32 year-old Neal Fountain has been playing professionally from the age of 14. Best known as a sideman to prominent local fixtures Colonel Bruce Hampton and the Fiji Mariners and drumming phenom Jeff Sipe (aka Apt Q258),  Neal’s name is on the short list of greater Atlanta’s finest musicians.  

Outside of Georgia, Neal remains a relative unknown, even after his band was named Local Jazz Outfit of the Year from Atlanta’s Creative Loafing Magazine and receiving very healthy reviews from, jambands.com52ndStreet jazz, Bass Player, Bass Frontiers, and Relix Magazine.  

Brian Lopes:Bryan Lopes was raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts and grew up listening to rock, R&B and jazz greats including John Coltrane,Michael BreckerWayne ShorterDavid Sanborn and Cannonball Adderly. He won a national award at an early age for outstanding high school soloist and toured in the All-American Jazz Band.

After high school, Mr. Lopes was awarded a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music where he studied with saxophone great George Garzone and played in the school's first touring ensemble.  After spending time in New York, he moved to the Atlanta area and quickly became a pivotal contributor to a collective of improvisers drawing from roots steeped in jazz, bluegrass, southern jam band and funk.  Regular jam sessions, coordinated by drummer Jeff Sipe, included Count M'Butu on percussion, Jimmy Herring and Randy Honea on guitars, Ricky Keller and Neal Fountain on bass and Mr. Lopes on sax. These sessions led to collaborations including The Apartment Project, Megaphone Man and the latest incarnation The Bryan Lopes Trio including Jeff Sipe on drums and Neal Fountain on bass.  Mr. Lopes has worked with Chick CoreaFrank SinatraBob HopeNatalie ColeAretha FranklinRay CharlesStone Temple PilotsDon Henley and recorded for CNN, TBS, and TNT among others.

Mike Seal:Mike Seal is a Nashville-based musician and the current guitarist for the Jerry Douglas Band. Originally from Bridgewater, Virginia, he's played out of Tennessee and Georgia for the past ten years, touring and recording with a wide variety of bands including: The Jerry Douglas Band, The Black Lillies, Jeff Sipe Trio, The Jeff Coffin Mu-tet, Ike Stubblefield, Robinella, Larkin Poe, and the bluegrass group Mountain Soul. 

Mike has performed and recorded on many other projects as a guitarist, pianist and Dobro player. Jerry Douglas' latest album, 'What If', features his guitar work and composition skills. His background is primarily in jazz, but you will hear him performing a wide range of music spanning multiple genres.