I Can’t Go… But You Should!

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Painful as it may be to let something go, sometimes there is no way around it. This week I find myself departing for a week-long adventure to New York and then to Boston for the English Institute at Harvard. While I can’t say I feel I’m making any compromises here, I will be unable to attend some great shows coming to Athens this weekend.

Thus, Sharing in a Groove celebrates the rise of a new segment, which we will call for now “I Can’t Go… But You Should.” In these posts – of which I’m sure there will be many more of as I continue to fill in my schedule – I will bring attention to the events in town I think should be checked out, but that I cannot make. It would be awesome for anyone who takes me up on these suggestions to leave comments about their experience at the show, share pictures, or tell about any other interesting music and arts events they attended that I failed to mention.

First up, on Wednesday, September 18th, The Heavy Pets are playing at New Earth Music Hall with The Fresshtones and the Halem Albright Band. The Heavy Pets have been on my list for a while now, but I recently saw the Halem Albright Band at the Green Room and they were a great time! You can read a review I did on them here. The show is only $5, so it’s a great deal too!

http://blog.newearthmusichall.com

Speaking of the Green Room, another new favorite local band of mine, The Kinky Aphrodisiacs, are playing there on Saturday, September 20th with Andy Bruh and and Robbie Dude. I saw the KA’s and Andy Bruh at the Umphrey’s McGee after party at New Earth a few weeks ago and had a blast! This is not one I would miss if you’re in town. It’s sure to be a raucous and dance-happy time, and it’s fo free! Thank me later, thank the musicians first.

http://greenroomathens.com/calendar

I’ll be sure to update this post if I find more going on, but those are my current highlights. Get out there and share in a groove!

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Full House for Myriad

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Myriad Interactive Arts & Music Exhibition, previously known as Perennial Fest, experienced a huge turnout this past Tuesday night. New Earth Music Hall was packed; finding a place to stand proved quite a bit more difficult than weeks past. All in all it made for a very different atmosphere, a feeling of being inside an event rather than an intimate open mic. When I say “inside” I mean it! The perception of a barrier between the stage and the audience was broken down, adding to the interactive nature of the event.

Curtis Vorda

Curtis Vorda

American Mannequins‘ frontman Curtis Vorda felt no hesitations jumping down off the stage and strolling through the crowd during their performance. The group, a five-piece  “from Athens, GA… mostly,” started off the evening with a set of expressive and driving rock. While they definitely have a harder edge to their sound, American Mannequins are difficult to pin down. Their music is at once alternative as it progressive, indy, and punk as well. Influences seem to come anywhere from the raw to the exotic, from the heavy and rhythmic to the melodic. They never quite reach a transcendent state, but bring about at times an uplifting sense with their soaring and sweeping melodic capability. The lyrics play a big role in their music, touching on a number of topics on all things cerebral and personal; from growing up, to the dangers of methamphetamine. As he sung, Vorda has an quirky stage presence, somewhat reminiscent of Thom Yorke. Throughout the show he prowled the stage and worked himself into the occasional shaky fit. American Mannequins brought a great energy and set the tone for experimentation with sound for the night (Vorda occasionally plays on a machine that amplifies feedback and frequencies).

IMG_0967Out on the patio, featured artist Marc Lineberger had some of his paintings on display as he worked on a new piece. Watching Lineberger paint was a treat in and of itself. His process feels improvised, on the fly, but at the same time is painfully exacting and calculated, often employing the use of a ruler to get perfectly straight lines and correct measurements. This comes out in his finished paintings as a captivating and divine harmony of the natural, the cosmic, the geometric, and the surreal. If Escher and Dali candy-flipped together and collaborated, Marc Lineberger’s work would be the end result. His sense of fluid in motion throughout the mathematic, interlocking patterns he creates is inspiring, to say the least. Each painting is an adventure, a discovery of a path through the cerebral chaos that permeates the natural world.

IMG_0976The open jam started off with a customary Talking Heads jam before diving headfirst into an evening of super funky, rock oriented, and blues-heavy playing. The turnout for this week’s jam was fantastic! New Earth was teeming with musicians; it seemed like everyone there could play something. The variety was excellent as well! Thrown in the mix were two harmonicas, a trumpet, and a saxophone, and Curt Vorda even jumped in briefly on his noise machine. It was a truly interactive night, with musicians jumping in and out of the jam throughout. You never knew if the person next to you was going to get up and grab an instrument.

This Tuesday’s Myriad was an amazing event! Don’t miss out on next week. See you there!

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I even wrote and recorded a poem at the end of the night. Check it out:

Don’t Listen to Me? I Think I Will!

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Halem Albright Band, source: Facebook

Halem Albright Band, source: Facebook

Thursday night I missed both Moon Taxi shows in town, but things turned out alright in the end… or should I say Albright! Later in the evening I strolled into the Green Room and caught a good chunk of a set from the Halem Albright Band (H.A.B), who absolutely lit the place on fire. The shear number of jam bands in Athens never ceases to amaze me, and still more amazing is that each of them have their own distinct sound; not once I have found myself saying, “This sounds just like…” or “Didn’t I see these guys last night?” H.A.B. was no exception to that trend, and by the time the show was over, I found myself, jaw dropping, loving another band.

3462After the show I spoke with guitarist and frontman, Halem Albright, who hooked me up with a copy of his 2012 album, Don’t Listen to Me, which has now been on repeat the last few days. Predating the 2013 formation of H.A.B, Halem’s solo release is a work of major collaboration between some top-notch local musicians and producers (John Keane, Jeff Mosier). The results are an impressive, highly polished sound that presents an eclectic, but masterful blend of instruments and styles that takes listeners on a kind of musical road trip.

As the album plays through, one can imagine gazing out of a car window at the changing environment rolling by; being aware of the distinct environments, but understanding the whole picture as part of one journey. The pacing of the album matches this sentiment well, driving forward with relaxed, but energetic drum beats that fall anywhere on spectrum from dance to rock steady, but aren’t afraid to get real tight and complex when the moment is right. Over this, the range of melodic influences are just as vast, using a blend of electric and acoustic to play blues, reggae, southern and classic rock, and even a little bit of that wistful western sound, too. Featured instruments include flute, banjo, violin, several types of organ, harmonica, and a horn section, broadening the diversity even further.

10600624_911700295511079_2470095596923669479_nHalem Albright shows his versatility as a guitarist and singer on this album, showcasing his talent without showing off. The melodies and soloing achieve a more structured tone than plain noodling on the guitar, keeping things interesting and grounded through some of the more lengthy tracks. He also creates some wild noises; every now and then a siren will scream through the music, and it takes moment to realize it came from the guitar. The vocals are well harmonized and pristine, allowing the lyrics to be just as relevant as any other part of each song. While Halem shines through, every instrument featured gets to have its moment, making for a tasteful and balanced total composition that keeps the album interesting over multiple listens. It can be dangerous to give comparisons to bigger names, but for anyone who needs a little orientation, blend up Phish with String Cheese Incident and some of the jazzier Lotus, throw in the lyrical consciousness of Twiddle, and you’re in the right ballpark.

Don’t Listen to Me has been thoroughly enjoyable so far, and I look forward to catching more of H.A.B. in the future. Their live presence is much different. As a four-piece, they ramp up the energy to a much more heavy-dancing level, taking time to do some serious shredding and extended jams. Worth mentioning is that the Green Room was fairly empty when I saw them, and they still raged their set. Respect to bands who still give everything to tiny crowds; they got me moving! It would be interesting to see what an album from H.A.B. would sound like after performing together for a year or two now.

The Halem Albright Band plays next at New Earth Music Hall on September 18th with The Heavy Pets. Don’t miss it!

http://www.halemalbright.com/index