What Bands Do on Their Days Off, or How I Ended Up Going Fishing with Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard

Lloyd and Brittany of Alabama Shakes go fishing
Lloyd Buchanan and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes go fishing at Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. (MPR photo/Jim McGuinn)

This past Saturday night, Alabama Shakes and Father John Misty rocked a sold-out crowd at Hall's Island in northeast Minneapolis. Alabama Shakes' lead singer Brittany Howard has become a dynamo onstage, delivering her songs with the vocal skill of a master like Otis Redding and charming the crowd of more than 8,000 revelers — even sporting a Twins cap during her encore. It was a beautiful evening, one of the biggest shows of the band's career, and a triumphant beginning to 2015's Summer of Music.

With two days off between Hall's Island and their next official gig in Indianapolis, what does one of the hottest bands in America do? Their second off-day has been turned into an on-day, with a special gig set up for Paisley Park on Monday night, where we may get Prince to join the Shakes onstage (members of 3rdEyeGirl and Prince's Paisley Park team were seen grooving to the Shakes from the side-stage at Hall's Island). But what about that other off day (which in this case was Sunday, May 31)?

I asked that question of the Shakes' co-manager Christine Stauder while standing backstage after the Hall's Island show. Christine told me that some of the band might go see a Twins game or check out a movie. Then she asked me what I was going to do with my Sunday. "Hoping to go kayaking and fishing with my son," I replied.

"Oh, that sounds fun — Brittany and I both like to fish," Christine remarked. An hour later, as I got home from the show, I saw this text from her:

Several messages later, a plan was hatched, and in the early afternoon (which is morning for touring musicians), we met up at Cedar Lake in Minneapolis, our kayaks, fishing poles, tackle and bait in hand. Joining me were Brittany and Christine, keyboardist Paul Horton, band member Lloyd Buchanan along with my wife Christine, our neighbor Lindsey, my son Jameson and his pals Timmy and Easton. The fishing was on!

Of course, the nine-year-olds caught the most and the biggest fish, but Brittany did manage to hook both a sunny and a bass, and was perhaps the most determined of our fisherpeople: continuing to cast out for the elusive last fish and the last to call it a day. Even though that last bass wasn't to be, a good time was had by all.

Brittany told me she liked to get out of the city when she had off days, and back home she has fished since she was a kid (mostly catching river catfish in Alabama), though she had to push through some trepidation about hooking worms and unhooking her catches.

When you see such a dynamic live performer like Brittany Howard on stage, it's easy to imagine that there's nothing better than getting away on your off day to rest up and step off the treadmill that is modern touring. Every performer deals with this differently. I was happy to have helped facilitate a relaxing day enjoying the simple pleasures of a walk in a park with rod and reel in hand.

I wonder what the Stones are doing on Thursday?

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5 Photos

  • Alabama Shakes go fishing
    Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard, Paul Horton and Lloyd Buchanan go fishing at Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. (MPR photo/Jim McGuinn)
  • Alabama Shakes' co-manager Christine Stauder
    Alabama Shakes' co-manager Christine Stauder hauls a kayak down to the public access at Cedar Lake. (MPR photo/Jim McGuinn)
  • Lloyd Buchanan of Alabama Shakes hooks a sunfish
    Lloyd Buchanan of Alabama Shakes hooks a sunfish (MPR photo/Jim McGuinn)
  • Nine-year-olds join the fun
    Naturally, the nine-year-olds showed us all up by catching the most and the biggest fish. (MPR photo/Jim McGuinn)
  • Brittany Howard and Jim McGuinn go fishing
    Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard and The Current's Jim McGuinn go fishing at Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. (Christine Stauder)

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