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Local musician takes a turn with a new band
The Allen Nivens Band.


"Colorado Calling" by the Allen Nivens Band.


"Living of Dying" by The Allen Nivens Band.

Classic and Southern rocker Allen Nivens had been wanting to take his music on the road, again.
But instead of gearing up local favorite Mid Life Crisis for more gigs, he put together a new group — The Allen Nivens Band.

“Mid Life (Crisis) is still definitely alive and well and playing the same as always,” said Nivens, the lead vocalist for both bands.

“But because we have basically just been a Gainesville-Hall County band — and we decided to limit the number of times that we are going to play just so in order not to create over exposure and keep the sets fresh — I put these other guys together so we could definitely still play Gainesville but also play Atlanta, Athens and Nashville (Tenn.) and some other cities, too.”

Nivens found Gainesville musicians in their 30s, with the exception of lead guitarist Chris Cheatham, who lives in Cumming. Other band members include drummer Rob Robinson, bassist Carl Williams and keyboardist Matt Pruitt.

“Really, the whole purpose of putting this band together was to expand to some different markets,” Nivens said. “I played in Atlanta for years and was heavily in the scene, and when we started having kids I scaled back on that. And now I can stretch my wings a little more.”
In years past, Nivens played at Smith’s Olde Bar, Moon Dogs and Peachtree Tavern in Atlanta.

“We’ve all actually been in different bands for all of our lives, and I’ve always admired each of these players in their own band,” Nivens said. “This just happened to be the right time for all of us to get together, so we are doing that classic rock, progressive country-type sound and some Southern rock thrown in there.”

Cheatham said he met Nivens a couple years ago and jumped at the chance to play in the newly formed band.

“The other band that I play for is over in Cumming called Feedback,” Cheatham said. “We’re still active and put out original material ... Feedback took a hiatus so I had some free time on my hands.”
Nivens said Cheatham is one of the best guitarists he’s seen.

“Chris has as more style, charisma and skills in his thumb nail than most of us have in our whole body,” Nivens said.

Cheatham, who has played the guitar in various forms for 20 years, added that each live show is a chance to bring out his inner rock star.

“For me personally, every time we play out I try to sweat as much as I possibly can,” he said. “I’m bad about crawling on top of speakers and stuff like that; every other week or so I try to pretend like I’m a rock star.”

So the group will bring their high energy performance, with songs from Nivens CD, “Living or Dying” along with covers, on Saturday at Sea Bones.

Cheatham said that The Allen Nivens Band will feature something new as well — a keyboardist.

“The big event for me with this show is the implementing of the keyboard,” he said. “It’s first time that he’s (Pruitt) played in public with us and he’s such a talented guy, he’s been able to jump right in.

“I think that it will add to the professionalism of the sound and a whole new layer to the sound and what you are going to hear.”

Robinson, a Bainbridge native, agrees that the keyboards really give the band another dimension.

“(Pruitt) is an accomplished musician in his own right,” Robinson said. “He knows the songs, knows all of the key changes with keyboards and it adds that extra element in the music ... it really rounds out the sound and makes everything come together.”

And fans certainly won’t have a problem hearing the new band’s sound at Seabones.

“After their restaurant hours end it turns into a pretty good bar scene,” Nivens said. “We’ve played there a couple times and have had a great response with people coming out, getting in and staying late.”