Rock Fore! Dough: Occasional Milkshake features flavors of Hootie, Melon

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Hootie & the Blowfish guitarist Mark Bryan likes to escape the rigors and requirements of the music business by, of all things, playing in a rock band.

Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish gets some air during a guitar solo as the band performs in Columbia. He will play with his band Occasional Milkshake during the April 6 Rock Fore! Dough concert in Augusta.  File/Associated Press
File/Associated Press
Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish gets some air during a guitar solo as the band performs in Columbia. He will play with his band Occasional Milkshake during the April 6 Rock Fore! Dough concert in Augusta.

Bryan put together Occasional Milkshake with Hank Futch, of the Blue Dogs, and Gary Greene, of Hootie & the Blowfish and Cravin Melon, nearly 10 years ago.

The power trio has been a testing ground for new material, a release valve for professional tension and, most important, a reminder of why its members began playing music in the first place.

Occasional Milkshake will perform Tuesday at the Drive for Show, Rock Fore! Dough concert at First Tee of Augusta.

"This truly is for fun," Bryan said in a recent telephone interview. "We are just three guys who play together because we love it. It's something that takes all the pressure out of performing. I feel like a teenager in the garage with this band."

The band has no albums to push, making Occasional Milkshake only occasional, so there's a freedom Bryan finds in the music that he doesn't get from his regular Hootie or solo gigs. He said because people don't really know what to expect, the band can play low-key acoustic or raucous punk and nobody leaves disappointed.

"Sometimes we'll even open for ourselves," he said. "We can play a whole set of acoustic bluegrass, switching instruments and then we'll plug it in and punk it out."

Bryan said the band will probably look to its respective members' back catalogues for the First Tee Show. Given the Hootie connection to the event -- the band has played four of the past five years -- he said some of his band's hits will surface.

"To be honest, I was kind of bummed we weren't asked back," he said. "This really has become a tradition. But I understand wanting to change it up, so now I feel like the official Hootie ambassador. It feels nice to have been asked."

In 2008, Bryan release End of the Front, a solo project that featured his Milkshake partners on several tracks. He said he asked them if they were interested in touring the record, but wasn't surprised when they deemed the opportunity too much like work.

"It has to remain fun," he said. "That's the key. We've enjoyed this for 10 years. That's enough success right there. I've tasted other kinds of success and so, if that's what I was aspiring to, I wouldn't be doing this. This is all about the pleasure of playing."


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