col. bruce hampton

"Look at this parking lot - this is perfect!"

In the fall of 2016, by serendipitous means, Col. Bruce Hampton shared his enthusiasm as he entered The Vista Room in Decatur GA. He was met by Mike Rizzi, whose intent was to create a space that was truly a musician’s room. With memories of The Brandy House, where The Fiji Mariners would hold court many times, Bruce adopted the room as his own right away. Popping in for a conversation with ‘The Great Rizz’, Bruce began what would be a weekly residency with The Madrid Express. The first show was December 22, 2016 - and as the vibe was felt the community began to grow. For six months Bruce would settle in with a team of the best musicians, refining his craft to it’s most focused and subtle. The Bruce Hampton version of Jackie Wilson at The Latin Casino: comfortable, without the show lights and the spectacle - just Bruce and the cats hanging out and preparing to deliver. And deliver they did as Bruce returned to the roots, with a rhythm section that would lay in that old Rhythm and Blues style a la Bobby Blue Bland, and wait for the unexpected left turn. 

After all, three lefts do make a right.

The Vista Room was conceived with ears first and eyes second - a room built from the back to the front by a seasoned player. If the room was right for musicians, they will bring their friends, and so on. As is often the case, Bruce Hampton's arrival affirmed the beauty of the mission and a common void was filled for both parties - a spot where the outside world stayed outside, with no TV and an intimate setup. Mike Rizzi soon dubbed Bruce ‘The Pope Of The Vista’ as he and many others witnessed community through music each week. In Rizzi’s words ‘There wasn’t a brighter light in the Vista than Col. Bruce Hampton’. 

Bruce was also taken with the Vista's sound quality. On March 16, 2017 he had the engineer record that night's sold out Madrid Express show with the intent of releasing it on vinyl. For several weeks the project was being finished by Bruce, and is now in the hands of his band with the blessing of Bruce's estate.

Col. Bruce Hampton and The Madrid Express – Live At The Vista Room captures the night: Bruce as bandleader starting low and understated, telepathically communicating the use of dynamics to the band and building to the aforementioned left turn. And so, we present Col Bruce Hampton and The Madrid Express Live At The Vista Room. The universal chaos of creativity, weathered by experience and honesty to the craft, steeped over time with all of the mystery intact. 


THIS was a crowning moment for us at Ropeadope. The father of the jam band movement. The living, breathing representation of improvisation at its highest and most free. A man who has inspired a legion of musicians. A friend to both Duane Allman and Billy Bob Thornton, a baseball player, a showman of the wildest degree, an actor, an unpredictable and always humble human. Col. Bruce brought us the most solid of blues albums, Pharoah’s Kitchen, in the winter of 2014, and we are still trying to understand it. As we count our good fortune on Thanksgiving eve, we offer our most humble thanks to the Colonel for gracing us with his presence.

release date: march 25, 2014

About col. bruce hampton

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Col. Bruce Hampton has been making music since he formed his first band in 1963. Col. Bruce has been in constant motion ever since leaving a trail of memorable live performances with his many bands, including The Late Bronze Age and Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit. Along the way he appeared in the movie "Sling Blade" as the poet and band manager Morris and starred in Mike Gordon's cult classic "Outside Out" as a mystical guitar 'out'structor.

Since 2006, The Colonel has been playing a unique blend of blues and jazz with his band Col. Bruce & The Quark Alliance. Still rolling down the road, Col. Bruce continues his quest for the tonal center at each exit #6.