By Nikki Hedrick
Simplified is headlining LuLu’s Bay Bash, celebrating the Destin restaurant’s second anniversary, Sunday, June 11. The family-friendly event features music, kids’ activities and more, starting at 11 a.m.
Lead guitarist Chris Sheridan looks forward to coming back to the area, the band having previously played at Funky Blues Shack and Harbor Docks. “Having been around for 15 years or so, we probably have toured and played in Florida more than any other state besides our home state of North Carolina,” he says.
The band’s roots took hold in 2002 when Sheridan and lead vocalist Clee Laster began performing together as an acoustic duo. The current lineup includes Laster (vocals and acoustic guitar), Sheridan, Drew Cyphers (keyboards and percussion), Justin Powell (bass), and Adam Mann (drums). Additional members Marcus Harmon (saxophone) and Phill Howe (trumpet) play with the band whenever possible.
The band has another connection to Destin. “Our bass player, who has been with us since 2013, is from Destin,” says Sheridan. “He just moved back there last year, so we have members all over.”
So how did a band from North Carolina tap into an island-based sound? “When Clee and I got together, we talked about what kind of music we wanted to do,” says Sheridan. “Clee grew up in Myrtle Beach, and I think the beach thing has been a big part of his life in general. I grew up in Michigan on the lakes where there is an island life mentality. There was a natural evolution of the sound, but we also wrote what made us happy and it comes it out as island-vibe rock.”
With inspiration coming from jam bands, classic rock, and even Sublime, Simplified keeps listeners on their toes with what they dub “feel-good rock.”
Even with members scattered, Sheridan says the writing process has an open door policy. “Clee and I run ideas by each other, and we’ll come up with a basic structure. And if we like it, we’ll let the guys hear it. (From there) it kind of evolves, with everyone putting their personal stamp on it.”
And what can the LuLu’s crowd expect from Sheridan and the band? “We have fun when we are on stage, and it translates over,” he says. “Our music is about a positive environment, and they can bring their kids and they can bring their grandfather.”
Simplified recently released a new EP, Island Times, and The Granbar Sessions, an album of early demos that helped shape the band. They have performed for the last four years on Train’s popular Sail Across the Sun cruise, and their music has been featured in video games and on ESPN.
Discover more at simplifiedmusic.com.