published Friday, August 7th, 2009

Nightfall's Act of Congress brings down the house

by Brittney McKenna
Audio clip

Chris Griffin

Even if Birmingham's Act of Congress is an all-acoustic act complete with a mandolin player and plenty of vocal harmonies, don't be so quick to label them the next Nickel Creek.

"Nickel Creek started out as a bluegrass band and then picked up all of these other elements that made them what they were, and we didn't start as a bluegrass group," guitarist Chris Griffin said. "I think we get a lot of those (Nickel Creek) comparisons because of our instrumentation."

Griffin appreciates the comparisons but cites a versatile musical background as being responsible for the band's sound.

"We do a lot of different styles of music," Griffin said. "The acoustic format with this group of people just kind of worked. We really fell in love with that acoustic, newgrass sound and so that first record came out with a lot of those influences. I'm guessing that the next record that comes out probably will have other influences."

The band formed a couple of years ago when Griffin and mandolin player Adam Wright began playing together in college, later meeting bassist Tim Carroll and fiddle player Bethany Borg in recording sessions and around town.

Since then, the band's debut album, "Declaration," has caught the attention of media outlets across the Southeast and their sound earned them a spot playing VIP shows for LiveNation. Act of Congress also has played several festivals, including Austin's South by Southwest, in support of "Declaration."

"I learned from that that you build a fan base one fan at a time and that the live show is really key," Griffin said of the LiveNation events. "MySpace and all the online resources help, but really that live show is what helps to build an audience."

Act of Congress takes the Nightfall stage tonight at 8.


* What: Nightfall concert with Act of Congress.

* When: 8 p.m. today (Sistren opens at 7 p.m.).

* Where: Miller Plaza, corner of M.L. King Boulevard and Cherry and Market streets.

* Admission: Free.

* Phone: 265-0771.

* Venue Web site:

* Related links at


According to guitarist Chris Griffin, if Act of Congress could perform with any artist it would be John Mayer.


Act of Congress are finishing up the festival season this summer and beginning pre-production on an as-yet-untitled follow-up to their debut album "Declaration."

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