Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit

Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit
Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit

October 2004: Courtesy of Vincent Tseng
Background information
Origin Atlanta, Georgia USA
Genres Rock, Progressive rock, Jazz fusion, Funk
Years active 19881997, 20042007
Labels Capricorn Records, Evil Teen Records, Velvet Dwarf Records, Inio Music
Associated acts Hampton Grease Band, The Late Bronze Age, Leftover Salmon
Website Official Website
Col. Bruce Hampton
Jimmy Herring
Oteil Burbridge
Jeff Sipe
Past members
Jeff Mosier
Charlie Williams
Count M'Butu
Matt Mundy
Kofi Burbridge
"Little John" Roberts
Paul Henson
Lee Venters
Notable instruments
Electric Banjo

Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit is an experimental rock group originally founded by Col. Bruce Hampton. The band gained popularity in the Atlanta club scene in the early 1990s and went on to tour with the first H.O.R.D.E. Tour. During the initial years, the band was composed of Bruce Hampton, Oteil Burbridge, Jimmy Herring, Jeff Sipe, Matt Mundy, and Count M'Butu. Jeff Mosier and Charlie Williams were both members of the band during the early years, but left to pursue other endeavors. Although the band was never commercially successful, their combination of bluegrass, rock, Latin, blues, jazz, funk, and impeccable chops became a template for future bands.



The band originated from a weekly Atlanta jam session hosted by Hampton (from the Hampton Grease Band and The Late Bronze Age) and eventually toured around the Southeastern United States with Hampton, Herring, Burbridge, Sipe, Mundy, and M'Butu. This lineup produced two albums released on Capricorn Records; Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit, in 1992,[1] and Mirrors of Embarrassment, in 1993.

During the summer of 1992, the group helped start the H.O.R.D.E. tour with such like-minded bands as Phish, Spin Doctors, Blues Traveler, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, and Widespread Panic. Members of these bands would frequently tour, perform, and record with one another. Béla Fleck and John Popper contributed on Mirrors of Embarrassment and Popper also contributed to The Benefit Concert Vol. 2. Chuck Leavell played on ARU's first two albums on Capricorn Records. Also in 1992 Billy Bob Thornton directed the movie Widespread Panic: Live from the Georgia Theatre which features a music video for "Basically Frightened" performed by Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit with Chuck Leavell and Count M'Butu.[2]


In 1993 the band lost two key members when Matt Mundy retired from the band and Hampton soon followed. Oteil, Herring and Sipe continued to tour as simply "The Aquarium Rescue Unit." The band had a rotating outer cast of members over the years, including Paul Henson and Sean O'Rourke. They recorded additional studio albums as Aquarium Rescue Unit: 1994's eeePee and In A Perfect World, and 1997's The Calling.

The remaining original members started to leave as they received offers from other larger acts. Jeff Sipe joined with Jonas Hellborg and the late Shawn Lane in 1995, and over the years has played with Leftover Salmon, Susan Tedeschi, Phil Lesh, and Trey Anastasio. Currently Jeff Sipe is playing drums for Keller Williams's new band the WMDs. In 1997, Oteil Burbridge replaced Allen Woody in The Allman Brothers Band. Burbridge also played in Phish keyboardist Page McConnell's side project Vida Blue, as well as on Trey Anastasio's Surrender to the Air. He is still playing with the Allman Brothers Band while writing, recording and touring with his own band, Oteil and the Peacemakers and now with Tedeschi Trucks Band. Jimmy Herring co-founded Jazz Is Dead in 1998, then toured and recorded with supergroup Frogwings, the Allman Brothers Band, Project Z, Phil Lesh and Friends, and The Dead. In 2006 Herring was asked to join Widespread Panic with whom he has recorded and toured extensively.


Burbridge on bass

In 2005 Hampton, Herring, Sipe, Burbridge and M'Butu reunited for several shows as the original Col. Bruce Hampton and Aquarium Rescue Unit. The new tradition was continued with eight shows in Colorado and the Southeast between January 2006 and May 2007. Bobby Lee Rodgers of The Codetalkers was asked to sit in on banjo and vocals, taking the place of Matt Mundy who is doing well but has retired from performing.

By 2007 each member of the original lineup was an accomplished artist in their own right: Herring with Widespread Panic, Burbridge with two bands: The Allman Brothers Band and Oteil and The Peacemakers, Sipe with Trey Anastasio and Leftover Salmon, M'Butu with The Derek Trucks Band, and Hampton with Col. Bruce & The Quark Alliance.

Indications are the original Aquarium Rescue Unit will play more dates in the future, but the busy schedule of each member makes the next show difficult to predict.

Aquarium Rescue Unit reunited for the reopening of the Georgia Theatre in Athens, GA on August 8, 2011. The lineup included Col. Bruce Hampton, Jimmy Herring, Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Sipe and Matt Slocum on keyboards. [3]



  • Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit (1992) – Live album – Capricorn Records
  • Mirrors of Embarrassment (1993) – Studio album – Capricorn Records
  • Warren Haynes Presents: The Benefit Concert, Vol. 2 (2007) – Live album – Evil Teen Records

Aquarium Rescue Unit without Hampton

  • In a Perfect World (1994) – Studio album – Velvet Dwarf Records
  • eeePee (1994) (This was a limited edition release)
  • The Calling (1997) - Studio album - Inio Music


  1. ^ "Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit". Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  2. ^ "Billy Bob Thornton Filmography". Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  3. ^ "Georgia Theatre Event Spotlight". Georgia Theatre. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 

External links

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