Brotherland to headline Olde Town Summer Music Fest

The Conyers-based Brotherland band includes, from left, Craig Blankley, Skip Blankley, Davis Sandling and Jim Ferguson.

The Conyers-based Brotherland band includes, from left, Craig Blankley, Skip Blankley, Davis Sandling and Jim Ferguson.

Although siblings Craig Blankley and Skip Blankley make up one-half of the Conyers-based band the Brotherland, the group didn't necessarily base a decision on its name for the obvious reasons.

"When we put the group together, we were looking for a name," said Craig Blankley, lead guitarist in the five-year-old band. "We tried all kinds of different names, but nothing seemed to stick. Then we booked a show and had to come up with something.

"At the time, Skip was listening to a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers and in one of their songs ('Hollywood') they make reference to 'the brotherland.' He thought it was a good fit and nobody disagreed. Everyone asks if we're the Brotherland because there are brothers in the band, but we're all like brothers, so it makes sense in both ways."

The Brotherland -- which also includes singer/guitarist Davis Sandling and bassist Jim "Beard" Ferguson -- will headline the Olde Town Summer Music Fest, which takes place on Friday, July 20 in the middle of Commercial Street in Conyers. The festival starts at 6 p.m. and the band plays at 8 p.m.

Although the band stays busy through constant live performances, Blankley said the Brotherland always savors a hometown show.

"It's a lot of fun," said Blankley, who added that he, his brother and Ferguson went to Salem High School while Sandling was a student at Heritage High. "There are still a lot of familiar faces out there when we play in Conyers. We still keep in touch with a lot of people and we have one of our best followings here. It's always exciting to play in Conyers. The people know what they're in for when they come to see us."

The band -- which has weekly engagements at Tara Humata Mexican restaurant in Roswell (Wednesdays) and Alpharetta (Thursdays) -- also regularly books shows at the Celtic Tavern in Olde Town and will headline the 2012 Lemon Bee Festival on Saturday, July 28 at the Olde Town Pavilion.

"We'll play wherever anyone will take us," joked Blankley, who added the group has also performed in Atlanta, Columbus, Covington and Loganville.

With influences that range from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix to Bill "Lean on Me" Withers and the stars of Motown, Blankley describes the Brotherland's sound as "soulful blues-rock with a mix of funk and reggae," and in some instances Sandling's vocal growl may call to mind the great British group Dire Straits.

"We play some Dire Straits and we're really interested in that era when they came up -- we love that band," said Blankley, whose band also has an interesting arrangement of the B.B. King chestnut "The Thrill is Gone." "One of our songs, 'Little Jenny,' gets compared to Dire Straits all the time, so we have definitely been influenced by that sound."

After years of rehearsing, writing and performing, the Brotherland expects to enter the recording studio in the coming weeks to get some of its original material on tape.

"We've got a list of our songs for an album and we've got the funds together," said Blankley. "We've been in the studio one time before, when our songs were really new and fresh. Through the years, we've worked on those songs and now we've turned them into what we originally wanted when we wrote them ... We've got a couple of different studio options and we're ready to get this done."

With an active schedule of shows and a recording date in the offing, 2012 is turning into a memorable year for the Brotherland.

"We're fortunate to be able to stay busy in this industry," said Blankley. "We're doing what we love to do."

For more information -- including video and live audio recordings -- visit www.thebrotherlandmusic.com.