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O Brothers, Where Art Thou? 

Jamsters learn to shake that thang

Regular readers of this column know that I'm not the biggest fan of jam band music -- that'd be John Popper (irregular readers, try more fiber in your diet). Granted, I like all the components of jam band music. I like a band with a bit of melody to them. I'm real fond of jazz, as are many jam bands. I like rollicking guitar solos, too, as well as the odd intoxicant; I'm a sucker for the Grateful Dead. Somehow, though, the hypnotic wash of sound often associated with this sort of thing usually conspires to put me to sleep. Last Wednesday, however, I learned not to make large value judgements over an entire genre of music, but rather withhold my opinions for individual bands (like, say, Kiss). The jam-friendly Visulite Theatre was hosting none other than the Yohimbe Brothers, a newish band featuring DJ Logic -- the world's preeminent jam band DJ -- on the wheels of steel, and Vernon Reid (Living Colour) on guitar. Folks who associate Reid solely with his former band's song "Cult of Personality" and nothing else might be surprised -- the man is an absolute virtuoso on his Hamer axe. In a form of music where too many guitarists phone in their solos, Reid sends his via fiber optic cable, playing an ungodly amount of notes per second but with a liquid style that always serves the harmony (Reid also manned a MIDI keyboard and two Apple laptop computers). A Lady Yohimbe, whose name I don't remember, sang and yodeled and wailed like a mixture of Michelle Shocked, Eva Peron and an Atari 2600, courtesy of an effects board set up on a music stand. Logic blipped and bleeped only where appropriate, and reiterated his standing as one of the best live music DJs out there. The cat on drums I'm convinced was playing with a click track, or else he ought to be enshrined in Cleveland straight away. Staying with the Yohimbe theme, I noticed the front cover of the band's new CD warns it may cause sexual excitability. That might be overstating things a bit (as well as a tad cheesy), but there were more people bumping and grinding in the bottom level -- the area I call The Moat -- than I've ever seen at a Visulite show. Then again, this might have had more to do with another kind of herb than anything yohimbe-related.

I woke up to the sound of horses whinnying on Saturday, which confused the hell out of me until I realized it was a Veteran's Day parade making its way past my apartment on Tryon Street. Seeing as you can only get so much material out of Charlotte's apparent love of (frequent) parades -- and God knows I've tried; Arbor Day, anyone? -- I decided to do my patriotic duty to our regular readers and not try to write about it. Hey, I'm here to serve.

I received an invitation to attend an event called ARToxication, one of those multimedia artistic goings-on that I like so much. The shindig was to contain live music, courtesy of Etheric and Dave Rhames, onstage action courtesy of Moving Poets and the Off-Tryon Theatre Co., visual art by a variety of folks including Duy Huynh and Daniel Coston, open mic poetry, and a live DJ. Held at the Steeple lounge on Friday and Saturday, the event seemed to be an unqualified success to most I talked with. Artwork was being sold, the poetry and "physical art" portions of the show got a good response, and the musicians were respected, especially the George Jones-by-way-of-the-Misfits stylings of Dave Rhames. Note I said most I talked with. Some folks, perhaps more intoxicated than ARToxicated, pulled the particular Charlotte trick of paying to get into an event, and then talking continuously at loud volume about how much the event and the city it was held in "couldn't suck enough." Granted, the artwork isn't necessarily of the same quality you'd see in downtown New York City (though most of it wasn't bad, in my opinion). However -- and this may be obvious -- we're not New York City. We need as many art venues as possible to create a vibrant arts scene, and if the Steeple wants to join in on the action, more power to them. Here's another thought, elegant in its simplicity but apparently hard for some people to grasp: If you don't like what you see or hear, make your own. Then make sure to call or write us, care of the address at the front of this paper, so we can come make fun of your ass.

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