Mama’s Love 1.0
Originally formed in the fall of 2007, the band was founded by Thomas Galloway- guitar/vocals, with William Boyd-keyboard/organ, Ben Torbert-drums/percussion, Taylor Knox-lead guitar, and Patrick Atwater- bass. Galloway, Boyd, and Atwater were childhood friends and played in a high-school band, Skyscape Blue. In the fall of 2006, Galloway, at the time a drummer, and Atwater, switching from guitar to bass, played around Athens in a band known as The Shady Boys, with dual guitarists, Taylor Knox and Carter King. King later formed the Athens’ band, Futurebirds, while the rest of The Shady Boys joined forces with William Boyd and his cousin, Ben Torbert. Due to Torbert’s technical drumming skills and Galloway’s versatility on the guitar, Galloway resigned from the drums, switching to rhythm guitar and front man for the band. As things progressed, Boyd and Torbert transferred from Auburn University to The University of Georgia in order to further the creation of music, moving into 500 Willow St., which would become the Mama’s Love band house for the initial years, where the first generation of songs formed, and the hard beginnings of a sound forged.
The newly-formed band intended to independently release their first demo entitled, Willow Street Sessions, but with the growing amount of originals, the demo quickly became identified by the fans as the first official LP. Through grassroot efforts and word-of-mouth, a growing demand for Mama’s Love spread throughout the Southeast. The band worked hard during this period, churning out unique songs while building their catalogue and chemistry. They broke into several new markets at this time and were fortunate to play with such acts as The Whigs, RAQ, John Popper, and several other established bands. They were also nominated for Best Athens’ Jamband during that year. In the summer of 2009, with pressures of post-grad life, Knox decided to leave the band. With the loss of their original lead guitarist and his creative influence, the band decided to take a short break and reform.
Mama’s Love 2.0
Galloway, Boyd, and Torbert called upon a frequent guest guitarist of the band, and friend to Knox, to fill the lead guitarist position. Whit Murray moved to Athens in order to further the progression of the band. At the time, he was studying at Berklee College of Music, where he would later return after his stint with the band. At the same time, they were also searching for a new bassist, as Atwater had gone on to seek a higher education for jazz bass. They became interested in Bo Nicholson, then bassist for Sumlian. Coincidentally, Murray and Nicholson were both from Raleigh and had grown up in the same neighborhood. The new line-up went into Southern Tracks Studio in Atlanta, GA in December of 2009 to record a six-song self-titled, Mama's Love EP. With jovial producer, Tom Tapley (Pearl Jam, Elton John, Trey Anastasio), they were able to find their new enhanced sound, and the EP was later release in January of 2010.
The band continued to build on their touring schedule, making their way up the East Coast to New York City, and as far west as Texas and Idaho. The band was once again nominated for Best Athens’ Jamband, Best Live Performance, and were sharing bills with The Rhythm Devils, Keller Williams, Perpetual Groove, Col. Bruce Hampton, Toubab Krewe, The Heavy Pets, and others.
In the spring of 2011, Mama’s Love was paired up with Athens’ legendary producer, John Keane (R.E.M., Widespread Panic, B-52's), for their next studio venture. They worked at the John Keane Studio throughout the year, eventually constructing their second LP, entitled The Great Divide. The twelve-song album produced their cleanest recording yet, featuring John Keane on pedal steel and Randall Bramblett on saxophone.
The album title was ironic in retrospect by the fact that their album release concerts would be the last Mama’s Love shows featuring Torbert, Murray, and Nicholson. Inner band turmoil, creative chemistry, and touring desires caused the band to dissolve once again for an indefinite period.
During this time, Galloway entertained the idea of a solo career, searching for more of a folk/acoustic sound apparent on his previous solo album, Full Moon Fiction. With help from members of Futurebirds, the album had been recorded at Chase Park Studios with producer, Thomas Johnson, and released in Jan. of 2011, prior to the production of The Great Divide. He took the album and the rest of his unused material to Nashville and explored the idea of moving to the songwriter’s city.
Mama’s Love 3.0
After much deliberation, Galloway was determined to reform the band, while recruiting the best possible musicians for the line-up. This decision forced him into a heavy leadership role, as he strived to keep the band alive. Boyd returned for a brief time to help form the new band.
During the first few months of 2012, there were a few Athens’ shows billed as Mama’s Dead, hinting at the fallout of the previous line-up, but primarily because the repertoire was staggered with Grateful Dead covers and Mama’s Love originals. The Mama’s Dead initial line-up consisted of Galloway and Boyd, as well as, Bo Hembree, lead guitarist for The Hypsys, Bill Baker, bassist for JazzChronic, and Sam Whitfield, drummer for Sumilan. This experimental phase would continue, as well as several other private and public collective groups and rehearsals, until the solid ML 3.0 lineup was formed.
Around this time, Galloway had been in contact with drummer/songwriter, Richard Chamberlain. They had played several acoustic gigs and songwriter showcases in the past, but it was after the 1st Athens' Circle of Songwriter’s Showcase, put together by Chamberlain, that it became apparent that joining forces would be a positive union of great potential. This had also become apparent with the songwriting and performing skills of Bo Hembree and Bill Baker, who had already been proving their uniqueness and excellence through the Mama’s Dead venture and other shared shows. Galloway and Hembree had also been co-hosting several songwriter open mic nights around town, learning each other's songs and a few bluegrass numbers. Chamberlain and Baker were actually previous rhythm section bandmates in the funk-rock ensemble, Free Lunch, which would cross paths and share bills with Hembree's Jazz-Fusion Trio, and old incarnations of Mama's Love. Chamberlain was also one of the dual drummers for the band, Tent City, which occasionally transforms into The Other Brother's Band, an Allman Brother's tribute band, with the additional guitar work of Hembree. Solid musical connections and experience were laying the foundation, and fragments of several great bands were forming into an entity.
The 3.0 lineup performed for the first time with a daytime acoustic set at 2012 SXSW in Austin, Tx, on March 16th, followed by their first electric set that night. They would later debut the new line-up in Athens at The Georgia Theatre on March 21st, performing both old and new songs within a bookended Not Fade Away set. The band then returned to the John Keane Studios to record the single, Beyond the Divide, which is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2012.
Around this time, the new group was approached by the booking agency, Hoplite, founded by Tom Baggott and Chris Cate, whose band development experience included heavy-hitters, such as Phish, Railroad Earth, Sound Tribe Sector 9, and The Disco Biscuits, to name a few. With this new relationship came a new sense of legitimacy, extended touring, and greater exposure in several new markets.
As the touring increased, William Boyd decided it was best to leave the band. Galloway contacted Ross Bogan, a fresh keys player from Charleston, SC, and invited him onboard. Bogan had crossed paths with Galloway several times as Mama's Love shared bills with his previous bands, including Plainfield Project, Wadata, Reckoning, & Long Miles. Bogan's skills were energetic, tasty, and undeniable, serving as an improvisational foil to the intensity of Hembree's guitar work. They began challenging and feeding off one another within the extended sections of the shows, taking the band to a new level of improvisation. Bogan was also bringing new songs, and would utilize the banjo, ukulele, and harmonica on the acoustic sets. Revived with new sounds and creative energy, the group set off in July of 2012 for a western tour, and they are now continuing to make waves around the south and east coast.