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Laying down the Law: Atlanta collective headlines Turkey Jam

Annual pre-Thanksgiving show has attracted huge musical stars

Atlanta’s The Law Band, shown performing at a recent 120 Tavern show in Atlanta, will be in Albany on Nov. 27 to headline the State Theatre’s 10th annual Turkey Jam. The pre-Thanksgiving Day concert has attracted some of music’s top acts in its 10 years. (Special Photo)

Atlanta’s The Law Band, shown performing at a recent 120 Tavern show in Atlanta, will be in Albany on Nov. 27 to headline the State Theatre’s 10th annual Turkey Jam. The pre-Thanksgiving Day concert has attracted some of music’s top acts in its 10 years. (Special Photo)

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Atlanta-based The Law Band are working on a new album whose songs will be part of their show Nov. 27 at Albany’s State Theatre. The band’s video for its song “Crazy Lonely” was named Video of the Year at the 2013 Georgia Music Awards. (Special photo: John David Raper)

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The Law Band’s debut album “Dust Aether” is earning the collective a growing following. (Special photo)

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The Law Band

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The seven-member Law Band performs at Atlanta’s Masquerade in support of their debut “Dust Aether” album. The band will headline the Nov. 27 Turkey Jam at Albany’s State Theatre. (Special Photo)

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The Law Band have been selected as “the next big band” to headline the State Theatre’s annual Turkey Jam, which has attracted some of music’s biggest names during its 10-year run. (Special Photo: John David Raper)

ALBANY — The list of artists is an impressive one.

Luke Bryan. Dallas Davidson. The Zac Brown Band. Florida Georgia Line. Cory Smith. Dierks Bentley. The Lost Trailers. Shooter Jennings. Blackberry Smoke. Cross Canadian Ragweed.

A common thread that links the now household musical names is Albany’s State Theatre. All played at the venerable State before moving on to larger fame and glory, most during the venue’s annual Turkey Jam pre-Thanksgiving concert.

“The stars have to line up, so I guess you could say there’s some luck involved,” State owner/manager Lane Rosen said of his uncanny knack for landing rising stars just before they make the next big leap up the entertainment ladder. “But I’d rather be lucky than good.

“You have to wonder how many area music fans are kicking themselves today over missing out on seeing Zac Brown or Florida Georgia Line for $8 and now having to pay about $80 to go see them. Zac did two shows at The State that drew about 300 people each, and Blackberry Smoke drew about 350. Folks around here had a chance to get up-close-and-personal enough to count the bands’ nose hairs, but they missed the boat.”

Given Rosen’s knack for signing future stars for the annual Turkey Jam, it’s easy to see why Atlanta-based The Law Band are anxious to bring their eclectic, high-energy show to South Georgia.

“It’s always cool to go into a place and meet new people who end up becoming supporters of the band,” The Law Band co-founding member and guitarist Aaron Hill said in a phone interview. “We played down in Albany a little while ago, but a lot’s happened since then. We’re really looking forward to coming back.”

Tickets for the Thanksgiving Eve (Nov. 27) show, which will also feature opening act The Evergreen Family Band, will be available at the 313 Pine Ave. venue on the day of the show. General admission tickets are only $8.

“I have to credit (partner) Sean Hatcher with finding The Law Band,” Rosen said. “We’re always checking out new musical talent in the region, and Sean saw them and liked them immediately. We both did, actually. There’s something special about this group.

“They absolutely have the same level of talent of those other great artists who’ve played here on their way up. Heck, I wish I was their manager. I’d definitely buy stock in them right now.”

The Law Band — Hill, co-founder/singer Chandler McGee, vocalist/percussionist Nancy Kaye (Hill’s wife), keyboardist Joel Nettesheim, drummer Zack Smith, bassist Chris Booker, lead guitarist Blake Benson — were more artists than musicians when Hill and McGee rounded them up to record music together.

“Me and Chandler were friends in college, and we’d end up playing and singing together a lot around bonfires,” Hill said. “The more we hung out, the better we got to know each other, so we ended up writing music together when we were around each other.

“I moved to Colorado for a while, and Chandler moved to L.A. When we moved back (to North Georgia) Chandler, Nancy and I started playing music together. Gradually, we started writing some songs and we’d pull in a drummer, a bass player, a banjo player. … The next thing you know, we had a band.”

Even as they recorded some of the songs Hill and McGee had written, The Law Band — named as the “other side of the paradox” that had Nashville dubbing some of its biggest stars (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings) “outlaws” — remained more a collection of artists than it did a musical collective. Four band members continue to record with side projects, and both Kaye and Nettesheim (Trapper’s Cabin) have new albums almost ready for release.

“Everyone in this group has their own thing going on, so it’s not like this is the be-all of our lives,” Hill said. “We’re more a bunch of friends who have fun making music together. We figured if we’re going to be starving artists, we may as well have fun doing it.

“But, to put it bluntly, we’re not working anywhere else. We’re building The Law Band into a business so that when we get ready to go out on the road, we don’t go out and come back broke. We’re being smart about it.”

The Law Band self-released their well-reviewed and exceptional debut album, “Dust and Aether,” last year, a multimedia production that includes comic illustrations as part of the album packaging. Friends who loved their music came up with a video concept for the album’s “Crazy Lonesome,” and it was named Video of the Year at the recent Georgia Music Awards.

“That blew us away,” Hill said. “The video was just an art piece, the idea of some friends who said they wanted to do it. We said, ‘Why not?’ To have it recognized as the best in the state gave us a great deal of confidence as we get ready to go out on our first real extended tour.”

As The Law Band prepare to chase their musical future together, one thing’s for certain: They won’t sit idly by, waiting for fate to intervene.

“We’re going to keep pouring the coal to the fire,” Hill said. “We all have such different tastes in music, we end up with so many interesting things to explore together. We might do a show for rappers, hard-core country fans or metal heads. We don’t underestimate our audience. We’re smart enough to know what resonates with us, so we don’t water anything down and try to act a certain way. Our audience generally appreciates that.

“When we finish something up, it usually tails right in to the next thing we’re doing.”