Athens Amplified showcases music at the Front Room and across the airwaves
April 12, 2006
By Julia Marino
I entered the dimly lit Front Room one Thursday night to find every one of my senses, quite simply put, amplified. The florescent, rose-colored lamps illuminated more brightly than usual against the black curtain. The sound of Starbucks' lattes brewing resonated through the room and around tables occupied by blushing couples, arms entangled in embraces. Some patrons were quietly studying, raising their noses from their books every few minutes to check the stage for the upcoming musical act. A lime green banner announced what was to come: Athens Amplified.
Produced by WOUB audio supervisor Jeff Liggett and Telecommunications 313 field audio production students and teaching assistants, Athens Amplified is exactly what the name implies. Various Athens musicians gather in Baker University Center's Front Room ready to plug in their amplifiers and perform for a live audience and on the air. The musical sets are aired live on WOUB-AM 1340. What began as an experimental course about two years ago has turned into a regular class, now hosting about four live shows each quarter from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Nostra Nova, the musical trio headed by singer-songwriter Adam Torres, started off the show with a whimsical classic, making the romantics in the audience swoon with such lyrics as "maybe you should take me home tonight," and Simon and Garfunkel's "home, where my thoughts escape in…." The rest of the band includes cellist John Stahly, whose playing brings intense and hypnotizing staccato and legato tones to the music, and lead guitarist Eric Vescelius, whose steady, dynamic playing sounds like he could have been a Spanish flamenco guitarist in a past life.
Teaching assistant J.J. Reed performed next, refreshing the crowd with a blend of thoughtful piano and guitar numbers. A senior music production major and member of the band Wheels on Fire, Reed started instructing students on audio equipment last fall. He says the students then apply their knowledge to the production of Athens Amplified, making the class "more real world with real musicians and live radio."
Royalty then graced the stage. The Princes of Hollywood are led by singer-guitarists Harlan Dalzell and Tristan Kinsley and also include Harlan’s father and Open Stage host Bruce Dalzell on bass and teaching assistant Daniel Schwartz on drums. The band started off the set with some new and old favorites, my favorite song being one Dalzell and Kinsley wrote when they attended Athens High School. It talks about growing up in a small college town. "This is a song for the college student in all of us," Dalzell said before band members amazed the crowd with their honest harmonizing.
In the middle of the band's act, the crew experienced some minor technological problems, resulting in a couple minutes of dead air. The TCOM crew, however, quickly fixed the problem, allowing the band to continue its energetic set. "There's no sound without silence," Reed joked.
Schwartz describes Athens as the "musical mecca in Appalachia." "You can go online right now and see that Athens is totally music central." He said he wants to package it and share it with everyone else, to bring the world a little closer to Athens. And he believes Athens Amplified is just the thing to make that possible. He also touts the program's educational value. Plenty of promotions are planned, he said, but noted that more funding and attention is needed in order to bring in more bands and recognition.
"What makes (Athens Amplified) special and exciting," he said, "is that it involves students producing shows of local music on the National Public Radio publicly funded airways. And that's what NPR is all about — airing regional music."
Come check out the next Athens Amplified at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 13, and Thursday, April 27, in the Front Room of Baker University Center. Your senses won't be disappointed.
Julia Marino is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.