Banks Burgess and Paul Shane have been performing as Banks & Shane for more than 30 years in Georgia. They are Southern boys at heart and play crowd favorites from bluegrass, country to a little rock ‘n' roll.
This weekend they will play the Historic Holly Theater for the venue's annual foundation fundraiser and bring the hits once again to Dahlonega
Over the years, Banks & Shane have played all across the U.S. and overseas to promote Georgia by serving as representatives of the Atlanta Convention & Visitor's Bureau, Delta Air Lines and The Georgia Hospitality and Travel Association.
The band just returned from a trip to Amsterdam where they performed Georgia-themed songs in front of hundreds.
The Banks & Shane band is made up of Burgess on banjo and guitar, Shane on guitar and trombone, Randy Feagin on drums, Benny Boynton on keyboards and various guest musicians who play electric and acoustic guitars, fiddle and mandolin.
Writer Ashley Bates had a chance to catch up with Burgess to talk about the upcoming performance at the Holly Theater, his recent trip to Amsterdam and even his thoughts on the success of Georgia's own Zac Brown Band.
Question: So, this weekend you are playing a benefit show at the Holly Theater. What do you have planned for the concert?
Answer: For the past two years, we have done a show at the Holly, and it's such a wonderful theater. We love playing there, and so they asked us if we would help out raising money to help support it and we said "absolutely." The show we are doing at the Holly is called "Banks & Shane Unplugged" and it's Paul and me and two guys from our band and it's going to be a combination of everything that we do: some bluegrass, beach music, might be a little bit of country music, too.
Q: Are you and Paul Shane born and raised in Georgia?
A: I was. I was born in Macon and I grew up in Albany down in South Georgia and Paul is from Tampa, Fla. He was born in Indiana. We started playing in Atlanta in 1972. We are in our 39th year now and when we first started playing, it was in the days of the original Underground Atlanta and that's where we started out. We've both lived here since then. As a matter of fact, we just got back last week from Amsterdam and we played a concert for the International Air Cargo Association meeting. It's coming to Atlanta in 2012, and Atlanta hosted an evening of this conference. We played and did a bunch of songs to give folks a taste of Georgia and Georgia music.
Q: When you go to these events overseas and you are promoting Georgia what kind of songs do you sing and how were you received by the audience?
A: They wanted us to do a medley of Georgia songs, so we started out with way down yonder on the "Chattahoochee" then it went to "Georgia Rhythm" by the Atlanta Rhythm Section, then "Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown, "Ramblin' Man" by the Allman Brothers, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by the Georgia Satellites and from there it went to "Dueling Banjos" and "Georgia On My Mind" and then went to "Devil Went Down to Georgia." These were for folks from all over the world ... it was received very well. It was 850 people or something; they were very enthusiastic.
Q: What do you think about the success of Georgia boys, Zac Brown Band?
A: We are absolutely the hugest Zac Brown fans ... I met him about five years ago down at Lake Oconee. His folks had a restaurant and it was called Zac's. I met Zac when he was just starting out, and I'm not sure if he had a band yet. A friend of mine sent me some of the songs that ended up on the first album "The Foundation" and I love it, I think it is terrific album. I think Zac is a magical performer. I've seen him several times and I think he's the best. He combines the very best of James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett and everything that's out there.
Q: What is your favorite kind of venue to perform with your band?
A: I would say the Holly Theater, how about that? It's a concert atmosphere, which is fun. It's fun playing an intimate theater; the Holly's about 350 seats, where we can do some folk songs and ballads. It's really fun for us to do songs that take us back to the days when we first started playing in 1972. It's fun to take a show and build it up and bring it down, and build it up and bring it down.