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Have craft beer, will travel

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RB and HGWT

Scott Anderson, far right, with his Have Gun, Will Travel band mates and their new business partners including Kevin Lilly, second from left, at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa. COURTESY PHOTO BY SCOTT COLEMAN.

The guys from Bradenton band Have Gun, Will Travel met behind closed doors at the award-winning Cigar City Brewing. Singer/guitarist Matt Burke, bassist Danny Burke, lead guitarist Scott Anderson and drummer J.P. Beaubien had a job to do that day in Tampa.

Drink beer. High-quality craft beer. And they did. Many different varieties until everyone, including their new business partners at St. Petersburg-based Rock Brothers Brewing Company, decided the Bradenton musicians were partial to pale ale.

“We drink a lot of beer,” Anderson said with a laugh.

Wayne Wambles, the brewmaster at Cigar City, then spent a weekend listening to Have Gun, Will Travel’s nationally-acclaimed music, which sounds equally literary and emotive with a fun factor. The lyrics largely focus on what chief songwriter Matt Burke has observed around his native Bradenton and while touring the nation.

Wambles learned the band made their music at its longtime rehearsal space near the Tropicana plant in Bradenton. The brewmaster, one of the best in Florida, created a beer specifically for the band, which the musicians recently tasted for the first time.

“The brewer, Wayne, is like a Jedi master,” Anderson said. “We tasted the beer and I looked at Danny and we both just had these shit-eating grins. It’s come full circle – we’re not buying the beer anymore, we’re selling it.”

Group

The members of Have Gun, Will Travel and their new business partners at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa. COURTESY PHOTO BY SCOTT COLEMAN.

Earlier this month, newly formed Rock Brothers Brewing Company announced it had established a partnership with Cigar City Brewing and that its debut beer would be Have Gun, Will Travel’s High Road Ale. Hoppy with 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, the beer is positioned to launch a series of Rock Brothers beers for various bands from across the country, with each beer reflecting the act’s personal preferences and created by Cigar City.

High Road Ale premieres at the High Road BeachFest Sunday at Postcard Inn in St. Petersburg. It’s free to attend and runs from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Along with Have Gun, Will Travel, music acts Woody, Geri X, Danfield and DJ Marcos Udagawa will perform throughout the day.

High Road Ale will simultaneously be introduced at about a dozen bars and music venues in the Tampa Bay area, including all World of Beer locations, Postcard Inn and Mandarin Hide.

RB Kegs

The first batch of High Road Ale is ready. COURTESY PHOTO BY SCOTT COLEMAN.

“We wanted a light, drinkable flavorful pale ale with citrus notes to highlight the band’s Florida roots,” said Kevin Lilly, a founder of Rock Brother Brewing Company. “There’s no actual fruit in it; the citrus notes come from the actual style of hops we use.”

Lilly, a 10-year music industry veteran and record label owner, demonstrated his passion for the Bradenton band and the beer during the course of several phone conversations spread out over the past few weeks.

He wants people to know above all else that his company is not simply sponsoring a band or licensing its name but partnering with the musicians, which will receive a nice monetary percentage on each High Road Ale sold for as long as the beer is produced.

“Have Gun, Will Travel co-owns this beer with us,” Lilly said. “We want to pour money into bands during their up and coming years and grow together.”

As for the music, "High Road” is the name of the Matt Burke original that will be the first single off Have Gun, Will Travel’s upcoming album “Fiction, Fact or Folk Tale.” A catchy country-rocker with a rollicking melody and smart lyrics that are by turns playful and dark, “High Road” ranks among the band’s best.

The recording will be premiered when Have Gun, Will Travel appears on WMNF (88.5)'s "Ninebullets Radio" show from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. An MP3 of "High Road," among other goodies including beer, comes with the $20 VIP packages being sold for Sunday's show in St. Petersburg.

“It’s a little bit of a departure for us,” Anderson said of the new song. “It’s more of a rock and roll kind of vibe; more electric guitars and a horn section."

Incidentally, “Fiction, Fact or Folk Tale” is a line hardcore Have Gun fans will recognize from “Silver and the Age of Opulence,” off the band’s long-out-of print eponymous EP that Matt Burke recorded and released as a solo project about seven years ago.

A full-band version of “Silver and the Age of Opulence” will be included on the new album, which doesn’t have a release date yet as Have Gun, Will Travel explores new delivery options after the closing of its Denver-based label Suburban Home Records.

“It’s unique in that it’s of the times,” Anderson said of the band’s adult beverage deal with Rock Brothers. “People think music is free and now the beer is something else to help pay for insurance, travel and everything.”

1-8 p.m. Sunday (April 28), Postcard Inn, 6300 Gulf Blvd, St. Petersburg; free; $20 (VIP); (727) 367-2711; http://highroadbeachfest.eventbrite.com
Last modified: May 3, 2013
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