Alamantra is an eclectic American rock band founded in Birmingham Alabama. The band initially consisted of three musicians – Bobby Shiflett (guitar, keyboard, vox), Kenny Shiflett (drums, percussion) and Andrew Reid (bass, vox) – who had worked and recorded together in various projects beginning with Every Little Flower in 1993, before assuming the name Alamantra in 2003. In that interim these three also performed under the monikers ON as well as Poor Richard’s Almanack, Bobby’s “go to” band name since 1986. Steve Casteel, who had worked with all three members of the band in various other projects beginning with “Professor Marvel” in 1995, came on board as a second guitarist in 2005.
Over the years, numerous other musicians have donated their time and talent to Alamantra. These include keyboardist, Derek Nolin, singers: Laura Stansell and Mike Hamilton, bassists: Joel Smith, Allen Eaton, Rhonda Ellis, James Mitchell, Rick Glaze & Rich Culp,as well as drummers: Shea Heatherly & Brandon Allison. Additionally, Alamantra’s recording, “Workingman’s Bread,” featured a number of guest appearances from local Birmingham musicians: Milyn Satterfield (Royal & Toulouse), guitarist, Tim Boykin (Shame Idols, The Lolas, Carnival Seaon), Carlito Jackson & Kenneth (K.D.) Robinson (the Deep End/Jive Mob), pedal steel player, Pete Nice and pianist Genie McElroy.
Alamantra gets their music from the prolific catalog of Bobby Shiflett, who draws from a wide musical palette. Bobby most often cites The Beatles and Neil Young as his original and greatest musical influences. Over the years Alamantra has found its voice by mixing classical, jazz, bossa nova, psychedelic rock, alternative rock, Memphis R&B, blues, Americana, classic 70s FM rock, and even some early punk rock into their own unique sound.
Bobby first began using the name, Alamantra, in 1995 as a nom de plume. He got the name by grabbing a book off a shelf, opening at random …and then misreading the first word he saw, “Amalantrah.” He liked the word, though, and began using it online. Eventually he fashioned it into a umbrella for his creative work in and then decided to play out under that name as well.
Alamantra is known for linking songs and ideas together by taking musical passages from one song and putting them in others, repeated or re-contextualized lyrical references and other similar devices. Lyrically, the songs feel poetic and tend not go near pop culture themes. They often seeming like parables, but Bobby says that, just as often, the reference is to something odd that actually happened and that he experienced or observed. The songs often intimate a sense of cosmic or mystical awareness. Bobby draws from works of literature and likes to include references to fables, religious & philosophic works, but has always done so with tongue firmly in cheek.
Bobby’s wife, Catt Shiflett, took on booking Alamantra in 2003, and the band collaborated with her and Mary Stevens to produce a series of benefits around Birmingham clubs to raise money and awareness on behalf of R.A.I.N.N.. (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National, Network.)
In 2004, Alamantra released their first cd, “2004.” (No longer in print) It was self-produced and was recorded by Bob Russom at Gintown. “2004” was an unlikely mix of old-school punk and progressive elements and explored themes like synchronicity and social decay. The band largely regards this work as a disappointment due to troubles they had with the mix and with the editing.
In 2006, Alamantra’s song “Voodoo Mouth,” about the aftermath of Katrina, was included on Neil Young’s “Living With War,” website.
During the Presidential race of 2008, Alamantra’s song, “Alarm Clock,” was chosen by the Obama campaign to be included in the coordination app playlist used by team members of the campaign.
In 2009, Alamantra released “By Turns” as an assortment of songs recorded in 2007 along with some older material recorded in 2000 and 2003.
In 2011 Alamantra went into the studio withe engineer/producer Brad Timko for the better part of a year to record “Workingman’s Bread.” This record shows off an impressive range of musical diversity and creativity and shows the band’s confidence and maturity. The album’s opening song, “Bread,” is reminiscent of Pink Floyd and urges the listener to act in and appreciate the moment. “Ajarah Jam,” is a solid rocker about the joy of giving. The album concludes with “Brian Jones,” a song about the founder of the Rolling Stones and the trip he took to record the Master musicians of Joujouka .
In 2014, Alamantra went on hiatus as the members of the band switched gears entirely and began working together in another project called The Other Day. This was a collaboration between Bobby Shiflett and composer, singer, flutist, trumpeter, Jennifer Skates. The Other Day explored Bobby’s fascination with various forms of Latin jazz, Bossa Nova and Tango. Unlike the general themes of Alamantra, The Other Day sought to be accessible and pop oriented. It was warmly received in Bimringham and the band could often be found playing in one of the numerous clubs around town.This project concluded in the autumn of 2018 with the sudden death of long time Alamantra/The Other Day member, Steve Casteel. Bobby says, “the chemistry that we had finally created in that band just couldn’t have been the same without Steve, so we decided it was best to call that project done.”
Since then, Bobby has worked on building a recording studio in Center Point, Alabama, and has recently begun to reform “Alamantra,” with his brother, Kenny, on drums and bassist, Brandon Anderson. They are currently working on a new lineup and new material that will be coming out in early 2020.