Story by Scott Mims
When the guys of Buzz:30 get together, it’s all about friends, family and fun — well, it seems like family, even if the band members are not blood related.
Both fans and band members alike bond over the music that results when they play.
“We’re just a group of friends that have a reason to hang out,” said bass player and founding member Brad Carter.
The music genres can vary, and the venue can be a bar, a wedding reception or anything in between.
This variety extends even to the band members. It’s anybody’s guess as to who will turn out to play a gig. But the key ingredient is always a good time.
“We’re from here, and a lot of people know us,” said lead guitarist Joshua Inman.
The band does not shy away from its roots. The back of Inman’s guitar sports an outline of the state of Alabama with a star prominently in the middle to mark Chilton County, and Carter has a similar outline of Chilton County on the back of his bass.
Carter and Inman are joined by Brannon Burnett (lead vocal and guitar), Chris Bushey (lead vocals and lead guitar), Allen (aka “Marvin”) Arrington (drums), Eric Keith (drums), Micah Ward (guitar) and Curt Roberts (drums).
Not all of the band members play at the same time, as each show has its own representation of exactly what and who makes up Buzz:30 at that given moment. But, that also lends itself to the carefree spirit of the band.
“It’s just kind of a revolving door,” Carter explained.
What would eventually become Buzz:30 started out in 2007 as a band called Bubba and the Po Boys, which consisted of Inman, Carter, Burnett, Ward and Roberts. That year, the band started providing live music at events for the Chilton County Cruisers, a group that hosted car shows. By year’s end, the name change occurred when Arrington started playing drums.
The name Buzz:30 originated from a saying amongst friends while hanging out at a local creek near Auburn, which, when asked what time it was, one would answer, “It’s buzz 30!” Carter, Inman and Arrington are equally credited with the idea.
Inman further described the phrase as “the rite of passage to open a beer.”
Now during concerts, Burnett prompts the crowd with the question, “What time is it?” At which point, all the fans yell back, “Buzz 30!”
The group has built up quite a following playing local bars, weddings, class reunions, dance competitions, Relay for Life fundraisers, Minooka Park rides and other events. They once played a benefit show for tornado victims of Cullman County.
“It’s almost like a family reunion when we play,” Carter said.
Inman admits there’s still a little adrenaline whenever they hit the stage. This release of emotion translates to the crowd and yields a laid-back vibe.
“The biggest thing about playing music to me is giving people an opportunity to take a break from life,” Burnett said. “A moment to relax, to forget about how mundane life can be and enjoy the moment.”
The majority of the band’s material consists of covers. A popular early favorite was Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places” alongside other country and classic rock — the likes of Ted Nugent, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd or Hank Williams Jr.
When Bushey joined, he brought a more diverse mix of ’80s, ’90s and Motown into the group.
And there are a few original tunes, too, most notably Burnett’s “Beautiful Thing.”
As for influences, they are a bit more local. The band members look up to local musicians Southern Pride, Rick Lawrence and Walon Smith.
Burnett mentioned his grandfather, Dr. Ralph Brannon, former pastor of Clanton First Baptist Church and Gospel singer; his uncle, Phil Brannon, who is a pianist; and his parents, Karl and Patsy Burnett.
“They always encouraged me to make my gift known,” he said.
The band shows a deep appreciation for those who have helped them along the way, including Todd Bowen of Red Zone, Rusty Keith of Friends Steakhouse where they still play regularly, Christine Thomas, previous owner of Friends and local sound guys Jason Cleckley and Dale Scott.
Needless to say, the band members meet no strangers.
“We were all buddies, and it’s been a good way for us to keep in touch and tell the same old stories and make new stories, really. It’s been fun,” said Carter. “It’s nice to be from here and play with your friends and for your friends.”