The Talismen formed in 2015 in Montgomery, Alabama. These talented musicians have been learning and growing as they entertain audiences all over the Southeast. With a combination of energy and sophistication beyond their years, The Talismen put on a show containing soulful and funk-filled originals along with some music of their favorite artists like Widespread Panic, Phish, The Dirty Guv'nahs, Dave Matthews Band and moe. The band continues to expand their catalog of fan favorites and originals entertaining audiences throughout the South. Come see a show by The Talismen and participate in their ever-evolving live experience.
Jack Anderson - Bass/Vocals
Jack Bennett - Guitar
George Norrell - Drums
Jack Wagstaff - Keyboard/Vocals
"Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend came from The Talismen, the youngest band to ever hit the stage at CukoRakko. The Montgomery-natives are scattered across three different colleges, but you would never know it. The original plan was for two thirty-minute pop-up sets under the pavilion, between sets on the main stage. It didn't take long to decide that these guys deserved an additional late-night set. Word quickly spread across the festival grounds, and the band took full advantage of the opportunity.
The level of improvisation displayed on The Rolling Stones' "Loving Cup," Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle," and Phish's "Chalkdust Torture" was ridiculous. Tanner Brown, Wildman Steve, the Tragic City horns, and others joined in for Kool & The Gang's "Get Down Tonight," which was sandwiched perfectly with Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing." Equally as impressive were a few Talismen originals: "Changed Man" and "The Lawnchair Song." Get ready, because you'll be hearing a lot more about this band in the future."
Shannon Heupel , Montgomery Advertiser
There’s a vowel that causes much frustration to the members of a talented young Montgomery band. Please don’t call these guys “talisman." Think plural, as in five guys. It’s The Talismen, with an “e."
“We took the name ‘Talismen’ and we like the sound of a good luck charm,” said drummer and vocalist George Norrell. “Each of us has a different thing that we bring to stage that we believe is something that’s connected to us. So when we picked that word, we changed it from ’talisman’ singular to all of us.”
Formed in 2015, they’re four high local school seniors and a college freshman who have a rock/funk/jamprov original sound, a bright future... and likely many, many years of venues misspelling their name.
“Autocorrect, man,” said Jack Bennett, shaking his head.
It’s a wonder the group didn’t take on a poker name. They’ve got three Jacks, after all. Along with Bennett (guitars and vocals), there’s Jack Wagstaff on keyboards/vocals and Jack Anderson on guitar, bass and vocals. Then there’s the non-Jacks: Camp Spain on guitar and vocals, and, of course, Norrell.
Norrell, Wagstaff, Spain and Bennett all met through Montgomery Academy, where three of them are currently seniors. Bennett left MA in 9th grade to attend Park Crossing, where he’s also a senior. “We obviously still stayed friends with (Bennett),” said Norrell.
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Anderson, a MA graduate and college freshman, came in to the picture when he and yet another Jack - Jack Barganier, also from MA - opened as a duo for The Talismen. They were both later invited to join the band (so at one time Talismen did indeed have four Jacks). Bargainer was the group's bass player until he left for college.
“We just played and really didn’t think much about it until probably our 11th grade year,” said Norrell. "We really found out what we liked to play, and what type of music we really wanted to make, and what our originals wanted to sound like. It really became a thing roughly a year ago.”
“That’s really when people started reaching out to us, instead of us reaching out to them,” said Wagstaff.
Bennett said being taken seriously is one of the biggest challenges for a band of mostly high schoolers. “We want to go somewhere with this,” said Bennett. "We don’t just do it as a hobby."
“We practice full-time, four to five days a week,” said Norrell. “This is something that we take just as seriously as high school sports…”
“Or education,” said Wagstaff. “Whether that be a good thing or a bad thing."
“We put a lot of time and effort into what we do,” said Bennett.
One important step toward their goal is building a pile of original songs. The guys do a lot of covers, but they’ve got some gems worked in to their act.
“We wrote a song called the 'Lawnchair Song,’ in April of last year,” said Norrell. "We played it first then, and that’s really been our biggest one that everybody knows, and everybody wants to hear. Our most recent one would probably be a song called ‘Upside Down Town.’”
At a recent show at Embassy Suites for the YMCA Youth in Legislature Governor’s Ball, their song “Fly” had all the kids waving their arms and singing along.
“And we’ll fly, we’ll never come back down. We’ll fly. We’ll never touch the ground."
When the guys want to really jam out for the crowd, they play “Changed Man.”
“We didn’t write it with a lot of lyrics, because we want to sing it and then get to what we really want to do, which is to play the song for 10 plus minutes at a time,” said Norrell.
“I think a big goal of our music is trying to use less words and more feeling the music that we give you,” said Bennett. “Taking you on this journey, not verbally, but with the music.”
“But it’s also not just a mumbled mess of nonsensical words. They have a lot of meaning,” said Norrell. “But we’d rather just get past the words into what we really want to do, which is just play.”
“Let the music speak for itself,” said Wagstaff.
So what inspires the sound behind The Talismen?
“Our biggest influences are improvisational based music, but that’s not really everything we’re about,” said Spain. "We take from a lot of different genres. We come from a lot of different musical backgrounds. Our parents had different tastes and exposed us to different tastes. I really think what we bring to the table is a mashup of sounds and voices.”
"It creates exactly what we want as a music sound,” said Norrell. "We all have a really great understanding of what we want. Whenever we sit down to write an original, or just jam or something, we know exactly what we want it to sound like, and each of our styles really influence that.”
“It’s not that we’re there, like where we want to be, as far as finding our creative flair that we each add to it,” said Anderson. "But I think that’s so much of what it is. Music is about communication. it’s about feeling the presence of the music, and trying to find out what that means in his head, and his head, and what it’s like for him and him, and being able to imitate that in your own way. It’s special."
“And it’s challenging,” added Spain.
They’ve been getting gigs and have played a good chunk of the state, from Birmingham to Dothan, and several locations around Montgomery. Up next, they’re playing the 2017 Camellia Ball in Montgomery on April 1.
You can follow The Talismen online at artistecard.com/thetalismen#!/bio; as well as on Facebook @TheTalismenBand; Instagram at thetalismenband; and YouTube under The Talismen. Learn more about them at www.sonicbids.com/band/the-talismen/.
They’re currently booking gigs for the spring and summer. So check them out, call them up and get them playing. It’s up to us to help young talent like this grow.
Montgomery, Alabama is not universally known for its wide variety of musical acts, but within the city limits, there are many people looking to make a living off music or just jam with a group of friends. Among those musicians, you’ll find the five young men who make up The Talismen. Jack Bennett (guitar), Jack Anderson (bass/ vocals), Jack Wagstaff (piano/horns/vocals), Camp Spain (guitar/vocals) and George Norrell (drums/vocals) all met while attending high school in Montgomery and have turned their garage band into a local favorite. Though they’re young in age, The Talismen have been playing together for years and have booked gigs at some well-known venues in Alabama such as Workplay Theatre in Birmingham and Riverwalk Amphiteatre in Montgomery. It’s their unique blend of soul and funk mixed with their passion for creating music that makes The Talismen stand out among other Southern bands. Their live performance contains a mixture of cover songs and originals, giving their audience a chance to sing along with tracks they may already know and also get a feel for the band’s talent with songs they’ve written.
Interested to learn more, we caught up with the band to find out what they’re all about. Read the interview below.
How did you all meet, and when did you form?
We all went to school together at The Montgomery Academy (Jack Bennett later at Park Crossing) and were friends before the band formed. We started playing together during spring break of 10th grade and added Jack Anderson to the band in May of the same year.
The Talismen is an interesting name. Where did it come from?
We opened up a dictionary and saw the word "talisman" and changed the “a” to an “e” for a play on words. A talisman is a good luck charm, and we liked the idea of that.
What’s been your favorite performance/place you’ve played so far, and why?
Probably Workplay in Birmingham. This was the summer of 2015 and was our biggest show yet and bigger than we thought we'd ever play. We have also played at Iron City in Birmingham in July of 2016. You guys play cover songs as well as originals.
Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration? What is your usual songwriting process?
Most of our songs come from personal experiences and thoughts that we all relate to. All of our songs are very personal to us. We all take to writing our music in different ways. It all comes together once we are done with all that we can do on our own. We can't focus well enough together to write a full song in one sitting.
What bands have influenced you all the most?
We all come from different backgrounds of music, but have a solid understanding of what we want our music to sound like. These different genres of music are hard rock, improv rock, classic rock and jazz.
Do you have any plans to record an EP or album in the future?
We do all of our recordings from live shows. We've been focusing on how we sound live rather than worrying about a studio.
Is there anything you do outside of music that fuels or contributes to your creative process?
Art, creative writing and reading.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing together?
Our progression as a band has come from countless hours of playing together. That's how we get a better understanding of how each other plays so that our live performances reflect progress each time.
What’s been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Being taken seriously. Progressing from being taken as high schoolers messing around to a real professional group that loves music just as much as any seasoned band doing it for a job. I think we are on the right track with this goal. It is especially because of Billy Norrell (George's dad), always looking regionally at festivals, city fests and other performance opportunities so we have a consistent amount of live shows to play and are able to share our love of music. Also a special thanks to the Bennett's (Jack's family) for allowing us to rehearse at their home and for Roger Spain (Camp's dad) who has provided most of the equipment that we use.
What upcoming shows do you have that you’d like our readers to know about?
Playing at several private events as of now. We will know about more summer shows when it's closer to that time.
Where can people find your music online?
Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (@thetalismen)
MA seniors 'The Talismen' at Sounds of Summer
Paul Sullivan, Special to the Advertiser Published 10:50 a.m. CT Aug. 1, 2016 | Updated 11:03 a.m. CT Aug. 1, 2016
Concert is Thursday, 7-9 p.m. at The Shoppes at EastChase
The Talismen, Montgomery Academy seniors, will again perform at The Shoppes at EastChase as part of a summer series called Sounds of Summer.
The free, family-friendly event will take place on Thursday from 7-9 p.m. near Gap.
“We love events that ... give members of our community something different to do during the week,” EastChase Marketing Director Suzanna Wasserman said. “We had an incredible response to the SOS events in June, so good that we added a fifth event in June and this back to school edition in August.”
Wasserman said up to 450 people have attended some of the previous five concerts, leading her to bring back the MA students for a scheduled two-hour performance.
“They are high school senior guys from Montgomery Academy who play anything from Dave Matthews to their own music,” Wasserman said. “We had them play in June and they were a huge hit!”
Besides the music, there will be activities for children and various food and drink vendors on hand.
Abrakadoodle will be leading the face painting and Kreative Moments will be providing balloons. A slide and jump house will be sponsored by Kinnucan's.
Food vendors will include Frios Gourmet Pops, Alabama Sweet Tea Co., Blackfinn Ameripub and That’s My Dog.
“That's My Dog has the best hot dogs you'll ever have,” Wasserman said. “And Frios Popsicles has everything from key lime pie to strawberry banana. Alabama Sweet Tea offers Southern Sweet Tea in a take-home mason jar.”
And don’t fear the heat, she added, noting the time and that there will be shade to fend off the remaining sun.
“We have several picnic tables with umbrellas, but since the event starts at 7 p.m., we shouldn't have a problem with sun. We also have artificial turf for seating and many people bring their own coolers and bag chairs as well,” Wasserman said.
Musical acts set for River Jam
Rick Harmon, Special to the Advertiser Published 1:10 p.m. CT May 11, 2016 | Updated 1:39 a.m. CT May 17, 2016
Montgomery’s fourth annual River Jam Festival on Friday and Saturday will feature an additional stage on Saturday and artists ranging from popular New Orleans jazz and R&B acts and Grammy nominees to a jam band that Widespread Panic calls one of its major influences.
“We wanted to offer people more diverse musical choices, so for the Saturday show we have gone to two stages,” said Richard Young, Alabama Roots Music Society president. “I think of the shows at the train shed as more of a lounge-chair experience —great music ranging from what I’d call ’20s speakeasy jazz to modern New Orleans jazz and funk.
“The main stage by the river is more energetic and up-tempo and will feature everything from top neo-soul to the jam band that inspired Widespread Panic.”
Wind Creek, the Alabama Roots Music Society and the city of Montgomery will sponsor the free festival, which begins Friday with four top local performers — Lisa and the E-Lusions, Spike Graham, BPM and The Talismen — at the Historic Union Station Train Shed.
Saturday’s lineup features two stages of national acts.
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Zina Moses & Rue Fiya, a regular at such well-known New Orleans clubs as the Blue Nile and Tipitina’s, and Linnzi Zaorski, a New Orleans performer who specializes in 1920s-style jazz vocals, will join Queen Delphine and the Crown Jewels, who are inspired by the great blues vocalists of the 1940s to 1960s, at the Train Shed.
The Riverwalk Amphitheater will feature one of the great traditional roots rock bands out of Athens, Georgia, Bloodkin — a band that Widespread Panic member John Bell said has been one of the greatest influences of Widespread Panic “from the beginning … to today and beyond.”
Also at the amphitheater will be:
Singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins, who had a No. 1 Billboard adult music chart hit with “Lullaby” and a platinum-selling album with “Soul’s Core.” His songs have appeared on TV shows such as “Scrubs” and “Dawson’s Creek.” He also co-wrote the recent Zac Brown hit “Toes.”
The six-piece soul/funk outfit Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal, which formed in 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and mines different eras and styles of soul and funk to create its own inspired sound. Ken Coomer, who previously produced Wilco and Uncle Tupelo, produced the group’s newest album, “Running From Love.”
Blues and reggae artist Corey Harris, who performed in and narrated “Feels Like Going Home,” the Martin Scorsese segment of the PBS documentary series “The Blues.” The former New Orleans street singer spent time in Cameroon, West Africa, and soon found himself adding more reggae, soul and West African influences to his music.
Blues and reggae artist Corey Harris is scheduled to
Young said there will also be a change in Friday night’s lineup. Instead of Montgomery’s annual Riverbend Brewfest preceding the Friday night shows, it will go on simultaneously.
“You have to pay to get into Brewfest, but this gives people two options as far as River Jam,” Young said. “They can either come to River Jam and listen to the music for free, or pay to go to Brewfest, enjoy the beers and also enjoy the music for free.”
The Good Doctor 'rocks the park'
Andrew J. Yawn , Montgomery Advertiser Published 9:50 p.m. CT July 11, 2015 | Updated 10:25 p.m. CT July 12, 2015
Second Saturday Battle of the BandsBuy Photo
(Photo: Albert Cesare / Advertiser)
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People of all ages laid on the lawn and grooved to the tunes Saturday as nine bands vied for the ultimate prize at Rock the Park competition at Riverfront Park.
Ultimately the judges chose the Auburn-based band The Good Doctor to take home the grand prize of $750 and an opportunity to play opener at the Downtown Countdown New Year's Eve Celebration.
Singer Jonathan "MCsquared" Avant is from Montgomery and said it was great to be able to win in his hometown. The Good Doctor played last and didn't get to see some of the performances from earlier in the day. Because of this, Avant admitted they didn't know if they would win or not. In the end, however, The Good Doctor found its rhythm and took home first place.
"This is one of the best, if not the best, gigs I've ever had," Avant said. "Much props to everybody who played a part in throwing this amazing show."
Bulletproof Marshmallows won second place and solo artist Patrick Cross took home third.
Still for some bands, the chance to play at such a large venue was reward enough.
Solo artist Charles Ray Hastings Jr. just moved to Montgomery from Huntsville after playing in a punk band for 10 years. The 29-year-old guitarist/singer opened with a collection of original material and covers including a creative acoustic take on Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time." Hastings said he would have enjoyed winning, but it was more about getting to know other local bands.
"I just moved to the area from Huntsville," Hastings said. "I just wanted to meet other musicians."
For high school band Talismen, the chance to play at such a large venue was a dream come true. Jud Blount (guitar), George Norrell (drums), Jack Bennett (guitar), Jack Wagstaff (vocals), Camp Spain (guitar/bass), and Jack Anderson (acoustic guitar/vocals) have only been a band since April — with the original goal of playing at Rock the Park, Norrell said.
"This was our goal when we started, to one day play here," Norrell said. "We just didn't think it would happen this early."
Despite the 90-degree heat, Anderson got the crowd going with his energetic vocals, all the while reveling in what he described as an "incredible experience."
"We're used to playing smaller venues, so to fill a place like this with noise was so special," Anderson said after the performance.
Judges Coleman Woodson III and Guerry Roton agreed that Talismen was "pretty good for their age." In addition, the experience gained will only help every band and artist improve.
"Playing at a nice venue like this, the stronger musicians they become," Roton said.
The event was held in conjunction with Second Saturday, which meant kids that weren't interested in music had plenty of other options.
April Berrey sat and watched her children Brax and Anna Grace play in the fountain while the bands played across the field.
"The adults are here for the battle of the bands, and the kids are here for the water splash," Berrey said. "I'm just glad that Montgomery has something for kids to do on the weekend."
Rock the Park was only $1 per person and free for children under 12. All proceeds go to Child Protect, a local non-profit focused on helping children who are victims of child abuse.