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Jamming with a Professional: Victor Wooten, April 21 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 04 April 2013 05:12

Victor Wooten. Photo by Steven Parke.

The best teachers inspire as much as they instruct, and Victor Wooten both understands and practices that.

His chops as a performing artist are unquestionable. He won five Grammys with Béla Fleck & the Flecktones – of which he’s a founding member – and three times was named “best bassist” by the readers of Bass Player magazine. Rolling Stone readers in 2011 voted him the 10th best bass player of all time – alongside icons from the Beatles, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rush, and the Who.

Beyond being an accomplished musician, for the past 14 years he’s run music camps for kids, now held at the 147-acre Wooten Woods Retreat in Tennessee. And on April 21, as part of Polyrhythms’ Third Sunday jazz series, Wooten will give both a workshop and a concert at the Redstone Room.

He will not teach how to play bass like he does. As he said of The Music Lesson, his fictional work-around to a much-requested instruction manual: “I didn’t really want to put out a Victor Wooten method. I don’t want to tell people how they have to play.”

What Wooten excels at, as a phone interview last week illustrates, is gently knocking down the walls that keep creativity and music bottled up. He said he chose to tell a story in his book instead of writing an instruction manual because it freed him to explore his ideas and philosophy without being tied to facts or technique: “It lets me off the hook right away. ... ‘This isn’t true.’ ... That format allowed me to put more into the book – even things that I can’t prove.”

 
Photos from the Green Day Concert, March 29 at the i wireless Center PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Matt Erickson   
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 07:55

Photos from the Green Day concert at the i wireless Center on March 29, 2013. For more work by Matt Erickson, visit MRE-Photography.com.

Photo by Matt Erickson, MRE-Photography.com

 
Beauty from Different Angles: Ethel, April 12 at St. Ambrose’s Rogalski Center PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 05:25

Ethel. Photo by James Ewing.

The string quartet Ethel refers to itself as a “band” and uses amplified classical instruments and improvisation. It’s called a “post-classical” ensemble, and the group has toured with Todd Rundgren and appeared on guitarist/songwriter/singer Kaki King’s 2012 album Glow.

Ethel is the very definition of “crossover,” and if all that doesn’t scare you, try this sample from Pitchfork.com’s (strongly positive) review of Heavy, its 2012 record: “The violins peel off into glass shards, and the cello starts moaning. It’s a relief from the opening melee, but only insofar as scalp-prickling fear that there is a serial killer lurking in your home is technically preferable to the certainty of being stabbed to death.”

At Ethel’s April 12 performance at St. Ambrose University, don’t expect quite that level of eclecticism. Or violence.

But the Present Beauty program Ethel will play still covers plenty of territory on the theme of “what it is to experience beauty from different angles,” said violinist Tema Watstein in a phone interview last month.

 
Photos from Eric Sardinas Concert, March 23 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Matt Erickson   
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 09:54

Photos from the Eric Sardinas concert at the Redstone Room on March 23, 2013. For more work by Matt Erickson, visit MRE-Photography.com.

Photo by Matt Erickson, MRE-Photography.com

 
A Judiciously Expansive Palette: The Kopecky Family Band, March 26 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 19 March 2013 16:46

The Kopecky Family Band. Photo by Will Morgan Holland.

The second track on the debut album by the Kopecky Family Band is the mid-tempo number “Heartbeat,” pleasant but unremarkable until the two-tiered bridge, which ultimately explodes with what sounds like a theremin.

It’s actually co-founder Gabe Simon whistling, multitracked and treated with reverb, and those 15 seconds demonstrate a maximalist tendency – understandable for a six-person band with members who play several instruments. The album starts with horns and cello, for instance, before the guitar rock kicks in, and the record employs an expansive sonic palette.

But the key thing about that whistling is that it’s right, the perfect touch at the perfect moment. Beyond the typical mix of loud and quiet songs, the Kopecky Family Band on the vibrantly dynamic Kids Raising Kids (out April 2 on ATO Records) has a judiciously sharp sense of how much or little songs require; adventurousness is tempered by discipline.

“Change” is acoustic guitar, some ethereal atmospherics, and vocals – anchored by the inherently poignant singing of Kelsey Kopecky. Straightforward opener “Wandering Eyes” has a swagger bordering on stalker menace. “Are You Listening?” finds Simon whistling again, but in a conventionally tuneful way.

“That’s the dynamic of the record: to get that simple or to get as a big as a song like ‘Hope’ – multiple layers, tons of strings, tons of keyboards ... ,” Simon said. “There have to be those moments when you say, ‘Does it need everything? ... Can this song survive just by itself? Or does the song need these layers to build it into something great, ... memorable?’ That’s what I think is cool about the record: It has both of those things. That’s what six people allows to happen.”

 
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