published Friday, October 14th, 2011

The Cadillac Saints command attention at JJ's Saturday


What: The Cadillac Saints, Alabama Shakes and The Bohannons.

When: 9 p.m. Saturday.

Where: JJ's Bohemia, 231 M.L. King Blvd.

Admission: $5.

Phone: 266-1400.



Guitarist/vocalist Matthew Walley said local blues rockers The Cadillac Saints are late in the recording process for their sophomore release. The asuntitled, five-track EP still needs to be mixed and mastered but should be out by mid-December, Walley said.

At a Cadillac Saints show, you had better dance, because the band isn't going to ask you nicely.

"When you're onstage, there is no asking for permission," said guitarist/vocalist Matthew Walley, who co-founded the local blues rock band with his brother, Jeremy, in 2009.

"You can't ask permission for people to move or put their hands together," Walley added. "You have to command that it be done.

"Having that kind of presence and energy is almost a religious experience when you're up there. You have to have the people in the back row believing what you're saying."

Walley said connecting with each other, musically, has been easy for the quartet.

Despite some lineup upheaval earlier this year that resulted in the departure of drummer Jeremy Muse, Walley said he, his brother, guitarist Matthew Walley, and lead singer Jeff Copeland have always comprised the group's core.

The Cadillac Saints' sound blends the improvisation and energy of classic rock and jam artists such as The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Allman Brothers, which the Walley brothers grew up listening to.

Copeland participated in the Chattanooga Boys Choir, which lends his vocals a clarity and soulful intensity that Walley said nicely compliments the band's strong blues overtones.

All three core members also performed in the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera's Youth Orchestra program, which has helped guide their approach to preparing new music, Walley said.

"It's a more militant music style," Walley said. "We rehearse as if we were a orchestral unit. We're serious onstage, and everything has its order and flow."

Saturday, the Saints will headline a show at JJ's Bohemia alongside fellow Chattanooga rockers The Bohannons and The Alabama Shakes.

So far, 2011 has been a banner year for the Saints.

Hot on the heels of their first Riverbend performance in 2010, the musicians landed an opening slot at Nightfall, which has been a long-term goal in the band from the beginning, Walley said.

In preparation for the launch of an as-yet-untitled sophomore EP in the coming months, Walley said the band has also focused on improving its ability to connect with audiences.

If they're doing their job, he said, people will be hanging on their every word, permission or no permission.

"You have to make it really count for everyone," Walley said. "One thing I've realized playing out in this scene is that you have to make your mark and make your connection."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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