Fun people, fun band, big talent
Spend a quarter century or more in the music business and you’ll start to develop a penchant for prognostication. At a glance, you’ll recognize the band that isn’t going to make it past the second or third gig, the “money for nothing” kids who are laboring under some pretty hefty pie-in-the-sky false assumptions. Then there are the hometown heroes, those players who are pretty good, well known locally, but music will never be their first income. They’ll play for a while, maybe a good long while, but eventually performing will become a beloved memory of the good old days.
Next in line are the workhorses and journeyman musicians who will attain a fair degree of regional fame and will no doubt tour nationally, occasionally opening for bigger acts. They’ll never be entirely famous on their own, but they will make a pretty decent living doing what they do and they’ll do it for a long time. At the top of this particular musical pyramid you’ll find the chosen few, those performers with that rare combination of talent and commercial appeal that gives them the ability (if not the guarantee) to go all the way, to “make it.” You’ll hear them on the radio; you’ll see them on television and 40 years from now, you’ll hear their greatest hits being used to sell the 2053 Volkswagen Hover Car. With her sweet, pure voice, considerable songwriting ability and superb backing band, Amber Fults is well on her way to the top.
A lifelong singer and music lover, Amber’s professional music aspirations didn’t blossom until 2008, when a broken ankle and a broken heart left her with a lot of pain and a lot of time on her hands. As so many people do in these situations, she started sleeping with her guitar, writing songs at a furious pace and assembling a band of hard-hitting locals, all while hobbling about with a walker. If there is anything sadder than a lead singer on stage with a walker I haven’t heard of it, but the indefatigable Amber pressed ahead and the reward for her effort was an impressive win at this year’s “Road to Nightfall” competition.
Charming and ebullient, Amber is quick to credit her bandmates for their talent and support. Whether it’s a pat on the back or a kick in the pants, the Ambivalent Lovers challenge their singer creatively, which ultimately turns good songs in to great songs and great performances into showstoppers. That’s no huge surprise considering the talent on stage. Butch Ross and Travis Kilgore are respected veterans, Hunter White has developed a reputation for superb drumming and Hayley Graham…well…actually, I have to admit to not being as familiar with Hayley’s work but I know this: Judging by the company she keeps, she must be pretty fantastic. She’d have to be, really, because as much as this is a band of people who genuinely like each other and clearly enjoy playing, dancing, and putting on a show, there is an unmistakable no-nonsense “Mama says” quality to the band which makes it pretty clear that if you can’t run, you need to stay under the porch.
Amber and the Ambivalent Lovers have already released a five-song EP, The Implication, but true to their work ethic they are re-recording most of it in preparation for a full-length album. The fact that they are revisiting that material reveals a key point about the group. It is a universally accepted phenomenon for musicians to record something and then think, “Huh, coulda done that better.” Music is an evolutionary process and a recording is a frozen moment in time. It is inevitable to hear old tunes differently down the road—but revisiting that work with an eye to improving it is somewhat less common, yet Amber’s drive for perfection is such one can safely assume most of the kinks of recording a full-length album will be worked out before the first new track is laid.
They are fun people in a fun band. They love to sing and dance and wear funny hats and act nuts and their joy is so infectious that the audience can’t help but come along for the ride. Underneath all of that, at the very heart of everything they do, there is a driving ambition, a fiercely competitive spirit and a desire to be the best. Amber and her merry band of players have talent, but they also have the drive to match it and THAT is what will drive them straight to the top. Their next performance will be at the October 12 edition of Scenic City Roots at Track 29.