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The University of Hartford

Dr. Longhair’s LOCAL Anesthetic –
By Kevin Lamkins

    Join me every Monday night, from Midnight to 3:00am, for all the latest in local and independent music. We go where corporate radio fears to tread, because tomorrow’s music is being made right in your backyard today! All genres, no inhibitions!
    Just because it’s not on a record label, doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Being involved in the local music scene has introduced me to a diverse world of music that I wouldn’t or couldn’t have experienced before. Now at my new home here at WWUH, I’ve got a real outlet to share with you some of the artists that are making fresh, exciting, innovative music all around us. Here’re some artists that you should look out for:

Spellbinder, a recent guest in the studio, has rapidly become the most requested group on my show. Their debut CD, independently release and due out this fall, Something There Is…brings a decidedly mysterious Celtic feel to folk-rock. Drawing on exotic rhythms, extended lyrical metaphors, and purposely-ambiguous themes, Spellbinder creates a mystical aura absent in today’s mainstream pop-music scene. For more info visit them on the web at www.spellbinderrocks.com.

I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the second CD from one of my personal favorite bands, The Aloha Steamtrain. The Steamtrain, as far as I know, is the only "psychedelic pop" band around. They capture a vintage mid-sixties sound to a tee; yet avoid sounding like a mere rehashed product. Much of this is a credit to the clever and witty songwriting of singer, guitarist, and nudist, Lord Russ whose incredible range and sexually implicit word play is an Aloha Steamtrain trademark. The new CD will be entitled Now You Know the Aloha Steamtrain and the band is currently in the midst of an east coast tour to support it. Find out more at http://members.xoom.com/steamtrain.

Taking progressive rock to new heights of entertainment value is a 4-piece band from New Britain called Karma. A group that started out, (paraphrase) "to create really complex compositions" has evolved into much more than just a musicians’ band. Led by vocalist/lyricist and self-proclaimed professional silly man, Nick Stargu, Karma has developed an outrageous comedic stage show. Complete with props and well-timed vocal interplay by the musicians, the group executes near flawless skits while performing some very difficult musical pieces. Stargu’s lyrics are always hilarious and often socially biting (listen to "Fickle"). Fusing classical, jazz, and classic rock influences with a desire to push musical boundaries makes Karma a band to watch for. They currently have a live CD available called Deep Fried, Explosedified: Live at the Husky Blues. Visit www.karmafied.com for more info.

Here’s a few CD’s I recommend checking out:

Chair 13, Loose Stones, Wooden Fog Records (indie)– Released this summer, Loose Stones is Chair 13’s first full length, self-produced, self-recorded album. This band of 20-somethings has proven with their high production values and high caliber songwriting that their musicianship is mature beyond their years. Running just over 60 minutes, the CD is a complete listen, in every sense. First of all there’s not a bad song on it; even songs the band calls "throw-aways" are engaging and fun to listen to. Second, the diversity of songs is refreshing; each brings its own feel to the whole- from the up-tempo to the ballads. The album finds main lyricist and vocalist Rob Friedland embarking on tales of soul-searching ("Fall Down," "Lonely Streets") and personal triumph ("On My Own"). Over a landscape of diverse musical elements including classical, jazz, classic rock, blues and the knack and timing for well-placed jams, Chair 13 brings together an infectious rock sound with substance. I especially like the interplay of lead guitar and piano throughout the disc, most evident on such tracks as "Horizon." Look for Chair 13 at venues around New England or visit their website at www.chair13.com.

Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, A Good Thief Tips His Hat, Slambovian Records (Indie) – A mysterious name, and it fits. Self-described "punk-classical-hillbilly-floyd," Gandalf Murphy’s debut CD is bursting with dark, surreal overtones. Though very acoustic driven, many of the songs bring in rather eccentric orchestration, including cello (which takes the place of a bass guitar), accordion, electric/slide guitar, and harmonica. The deep yet folksy lead vocals of Joziah Longo bring to life a host of elusive characters, such as the "Good Thief," "Genius," and "Alice in Space." Other tunes have the keen ability to summon seemingly universal nostalgia, through some sort of intangible musical force – give a listen to "Never Fit," "Radio," "Silent Revolution" and see what mental images you’ll conjure! Would you expect anything less from the Sleepy Hollow natives? Gandalf Murphy transforms the listener into a participant, as it is easy to get pulled into Slambovia, hard to get out. But why would you want to? See www.slambovia.com for more information and tour dates.
     Questions? Comments? Did you hear something you like and want to learn more? Contact me at the email address below. If you’re a local/independent musician and would like to hear your music on my show, please contact me at Dr_Longhair@altavista.com.

Copyright©WWUH: November/December Program Guide, 2000

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