Best of What’s Next: Ponderosa

Music Features Ponderosa

Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Members: Nash, John Dance, Jonathan Thomas Hall, Kris Sampson and Darren Dodd
Album: Moonlight Revival
For Fans Of: The Black Crowes, Ryan Adams, Lynyrd Skynyrd

For more than 20 years, Atlanta blues-rockers The Black Crowes have served as standard bearers of the good-old-boy amalgam of Americana and Southern rock. But as the group’s indefinite hiatus slowly looms closer, their impending absence leaves some big shoes to fill. Fellow Atlanta revivalist rockers Ponderosa seem ready to inherit the soon-to-be-vacated throne.

Like the Crowes, Ponderosa has developed an energetic live presence. The band attributes its enthusiastic show to their tireless devotion to live performance. “It’s extremely easy for us to go into a room, set up microphones, play all of our instruments and sing everything live,” frontman Kalen Nash admits. “We do that every single day.”

While Ponderosa has spent the past several years honing its Southern-grit sound on the road, the quintet recently focused its efforts on releasing its debut LP, Moonlight Revival. Despite earning their stripes onstage, Ponderosa’s members—Nash, John Dance, Jonathan Thomas Hall, Kris Sampson and Darren Dodd—originally met through their associations with the now-defunct Nickel and Dime Recording Studios in Avondale Estates, Ga. “We were all friends three or four years before we started the band,” Nash explains. “We all were studio rats; we all lived at the studio.”

Despite the band’s familiarity with recording, Ponderosa opted to carefully craft its long-awaited debut. The group recruited the expertise of longtime producer Joe Chiccarelli (Frank Zappa, White Stripes, My Morning Jacket) and recorded Moonlight Revival at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tenn. With the help of Chiccarelli, Ponderosa took note from a studio master doing what he does he best. The partnership captures Ponderosa’s energy in a bottle, showcasing the essence of the band’s compelling live act on record. “This was our chance to make a record that was different,” Nash says. “It was a learning process in that sense, but it was also a learning process within ourselves.”

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