Eating on the Road With the Alabama Shakes

Singer Brittany Howard is about to take the stage in front of a packed New York crowd, but she just wants to talk about her newfound passion: fishing. Seriously, the frontwoman and guitarist for indie-pop sensation the Alabama Shakes, who is famous for her gut-wrenching performances that go seamlessly from screeching to cajoling, has gotten so immersed in the sport that she even packs her Sage 7-weight rod when the band tours. We dont even drink no more, she tells me. I go fishing. Thats what I do. I go to a town, find a piece of water and I go fishing.

It seems only right that we should be discussing tying flies, given that were floating in New Yorks Hudson River. Were inside the World War II-era aircraft carrier, the Intrepid, which has been docked along Manhattans west side for the last 35 years and has become an air and space museum. As we chat about the merits of catching and releasing, hundreds of sailors are coming aboard for the launch of Fleet Week and the annual Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum concert that the band is headlining.

While the crowd is loosening up with an assortment of rum-and-ginger beer cocktails, the band is taking it a bit slower. The four principals arent big drinkers but Howard and the groups other singers warm up their vocal cords with a concoction of hot water, lemon juice, honey and some whiskey. In fact, she sips from a cup of it on stage, too. What kind of whiskey does she like to use? Whatever dont burn too bad, she says. I dont want to get heartburn before I go up there.

Courtesy Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

In fact, most of her bandmates actually skip eating heavy dishes, like pasta, before they perform. The exception is bassist Zac Cockrell. Ill eat a whole meal and go on stage, he brags.

After the show is a completely different story. Most of the time the band will find a local restaurant and have a family meal on the bus as they head to the next town. Occasionally, theyll go to a restaurant if theres both time and enough interest. Usually, I go to bed, Howard admits. Thats what Im looking forward to. But if I have the energy, yeah, Im going to go out.

Tonight, theyre craving food from New Yorks trendy Chinese restaurant Red Farm. In particular, the establishments tasty duck and unique take on the traditional eggroll, which it fills with pastrami from legendary Katzs Delicatessen. Two orders please, Howard jokes.

In between stops, the band admits to stocking its tour bus with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Lunchables and LaCroix sparkling water. Although, Howard admits to still missing the steak-and-cheese torta from her beloved Sabor Latino Taqueria in their hometown of Athens, Alabama. The secret to its deliciousness: They have their own bread recipe, she reveals. Its the bread that makes it.

But Howard is already looking forward to the trip to their next concert venue. Im excited to go to Connecticut, she says. I love Connecticut because theres good fishing. We drove through it [before] and stopped at a Dairy Cream and I was like this is my homeland.

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