HUNTINGTON — Since the late 1990s, the Georgia-based group Perpetual Groove has weathered hiatuses, pandemics and personnel changes to maintain their well-earned spot in the jam-band world. Long-time band members Brock Butler (guitar), Adam Perry (bass), and keyboardist Matt McDonald are still at the heart of the band.
Recently, however, the quartet has been rounded out by the inclusion of powerhouse drummer Darren Stanley, who has played with everyone from the late legend Col. Bruce Hampton to Oz Noy to guitar great Jimmy Herring.
Back on the road full time after the pandemic, Perpetual Groove will be coming to play in Huntington at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, at The Loud Music Venue and Beer Garden. The concert is 18 and older, and tickets are $15. More information can be found at theloudwv.com.
Earlier this year, Perpetual Groove released a 20th anniversary remastered version of their landmark 2003 album called “Sweet Oblivious Antidote.”
Matt McDonald is happy to be on the road again, reigniting the band’s fan base found all around the U.S.
McDonald grew up in Naples, Florida, and began his music career in the U.S. Army, performing in various military bands while being stationed at Fort Stewart, located near Savannah, Georgia. At an open mic night in Savannah one evening in 2001, McDonald met Butler and Perry and after clicking together musically, McDonald was asked to join Perpetual Groove.
About a decade went by for Perpetual Groove before the recent pandemic hit the world. During the lockdown, with the live music scene on hiatus, McDonald spent his free days perfecting his skills as a meat griller by buying multiple smokers for the back yard.
Soon, however, McDonald was ready to hit the road with his band mates once the music venues began to reopen.
“We did do one live stream during covid down at the Music Matters Warehouse in September of 2020, which was a few months into everything, and it was broadcast live by Nugs.net and other outlets,” said McDonald. “But, for the most part, like a lot of folks, we didn’t do a ton of stuff. We did get into the studio to record an EP of cover songs and we stayed busy, but it was hard to do much together in the same room with each other. And, Darren Stanley became our new drummer by the time the pandemic was over. He is a great drummer and a good guy, too. He has become one of my closest friends. I just spent the weekend with him. We had a run of shows in Denver, Colorado, and he jumped in and did the drive with me.”
With Stanley onboard, pushing the rhythms hard underneath on the sticks, Perpetual Groove is on a roll and the future looks bright.
“The shows have been nice since we got Darren in the fold, because now even our old songs have a new energy and approach with him on the drums,” said McDonald. “It makes all of the difference in the world. There are a lot of drummers that can sit there and be good and impressive and keep time really well. But, to have somebody that is musically moving with you, they can really control the dynamic of the whole thing.”
As 2023 continues to unfold, the members of Perpetual Groove are rested and ready to make positive art happen.
“We have some new music that we are getting ready to release, and we just wrapped up the 20th anniversary release of our first album ‘Sweet Oblivious Antidote,’ with the digital version dropping in January and the vinyl version about to be ready for release soon,” said McDonald. “As for creating new music, we usually write as a group, but the general catalyst for new songs will come from us as individuals. One of us will have an idea that they will bring to the band, and sometimes we’ll expand upon it or see if there is an idea that somebody else has that is unfinished that might fit well with it. Quite often, I’ll write a lot of song bridges that might fit with ideas that Brock and Adam have created. But, we have always shared the song publishing, so it has always been a bit of a group effort.”
Fortunately, having been a band for over two decades, the fan base for Perpetual Groove has stuck with them with younger fans coming onboard all of the time.
“We’ve had a couple of folks over the last couple of years come up and say, ‘My Dad saw you play when he was just out of college,’” said McDonald. “Everyone is getting a little older, yet the younger kids still dig what we are doing and we have managed to reach them. So, we are getting ready to just hit the road and get back to it, getting back to doing some shows. For me, though, I love it when an audience starts singing a part of a song back to us. It is the best feeling to have a room full of folks start singing the harmony with us, or sing the ‘oohs and ahs’ to a quiet part of a tune. It usually happens when we play the song Sweet Oblivious Antidote from our first album, as there is a piano breakdown at the end with some ‘oohs and ahs’ in it and it is always nice when the audience picks that up for us. It feels good.”