Bottomland's first CD, "Feet of Clay" was born this way:
I woke up one sunny morning in June of 1996 with a rare, clear memory from a dream. The memory came in the form of serene knowledge...a simple certainty that I wanted to start a band.
As I lay in bed absorbing sunlight like a leaf, I realized that the concept was present almost fully formed in my mind. I knew the band's name. I knew the band should have soaring female lead vocals with harmonies, guitar, bass, keys, and at least one horn. It should have 3 or more percussionists playing African and Latin percussion instruments and it would not always use a "trap" drum set. We would play mostly original music with some cover material, choosing songs that would take full advantage of the expressive range present in the vocals at the top end, all the way down through the percussion and bass at the low end.
I also wanted the music to somehow have a spiritual impact on the listener without being preachy or saccharine. I later rephrased this to a desire for audiences to leave brighter to their core than when they arrived - not just entertained. One of the clearest certainties floating in my head that light morning was the band's name: Bottomland. I found the word from vague impressions of a backwoods agrarian slang term for fertile, flood plain land.
Bottomland also refers to the sense of being completely enfolded by thick, driving rhythms starting from vibrations underfoot growing up into a landscape of lush sounds and flying solos. The name is also just a bit naughty and irreverent, suggesting the primal urge to dance and move the anatomy naturally to the beat. "Bottomland" is a name that intentionally reminds me of humanity's earthy roots.
I first approached my most trusted partner in sonic crime - percussionist, Anderson Allen - with the odd idea. Anderson and I started our musical collaborations at DC�s Caf� Lautrec in the mid 80's and continued through his West African-inspired group, "Dahjay" 'till just a few years ago. Anderson was immediately enthusiastic about the concept and we started out by making compilation tapes of cover material by other artists that had elements of what I wanted in Bottomland.
Anderson and I soon set about enlisting some of our favorite "unusual suspects" from former musical endeavors into the new tribe. They are: Ami Gaston (vocals), Saleem Waters (percussion), Franz Kellner (bass), and Clifton Brockington (trumpet). Some amazing new friends have joined us along the way, including Wendy "MVP" Lanxner (vocals & flute), Franz� pre-teen son Anton (percussion), and Ekendra Das (percussion). 2 years later, we went to Avalon Sound Studio in Bethesda, Maryland and enlisted the wizardry of producer/engineer/musician/friend, Steve Murphy on the recording project that became "Feet of Clay." 3 years later, the rest -- as I now say -- is about to make history.