The name "Alternative Zen Blues Trial" (AZBT) is a reference to two things: 1) the band's commitment to in-the-moment, blues-based improvisation, and 2) Johnny Winter's seminal album The Progressive Blues Experiment.
The Johnny Winter reference is an effective launching point for understanding the AZBT sound. The band is a power trio cut in the mold of legends like Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys, Cream, and ZZ Top, but they also bring a funky modern edge that is in line with acts ranging from North Mississippi All-Stars and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to The Black Keys and Jack White.
What makes the band truly unique, however, is the singular combination of funky grooves, musical dexterity, psychedelic improvisations, and rough-hewn lyrical poetics. This is the result of the far-reaching pedigree of its members.
- Drummer Zack Kirk Olsen emerged from the punk scene to become the world-touring drummer for ska heroes Slow Gherkin, before becoming an in-demand jazz and blues player, instructor, and session musician.
- Etienne David Franc is a groove-driven R'n'B master who has built a world-class reputation in both pop and world music circles, working with artists such as Chris Rene (X-Factor finalist and EPIC/Sony recording artist), Soulstice (Om/Geffen), O.P.M. (Atlantic), and Aimee Allen (Elektra).
- Preacher Boy, credited as "The Godfather of Alt. Blues," has a 20+ year career that has seen him and his 1936 National resonator guitar performing all over the world—as well as on albums produced by Rick Rubin, Jon Astley, Sandy Pearlman, and more. From his debut on Blind Pig Records through The Rumble Strip—his most recent full-length release ("Preacher Boy’s performances on The Rumble Strip leave nothing but scorched earth in their wake." —That Devil Music)—he has been busy both honoring and advancing roots and blues music, while being hailed by the likes of MOJO as “a songwriter of startling originality."
While the band unmistakably wears its influences on its sleeve, the sound is totally unique. At any AZBT performance, musicians will want to listen, dancers will want to dance, and everyone will experience something memorable, moving, and seriously funky.