Young Monster Fuses Local Art and Music Scenes

By Xan Gwaltney

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) — If you have seen event posters around town in the last year, chances are you’ve seen the work of the local art collective known as Young Monster.

Young Monster design

Young Monster design

The group started operating over a year ago thanks to a grant from Chattanooga non-profit organization CreateHere, which identifies itself as “an experiment in harnessing the economic potential of creative individuals” to “build Chattanooga’s cultural economy through arts, economic, and cultural development initiatives.”

UTC graduate Nick Dupey founded Young Monster after writing the grant with Heather Lacey, who now works primarily with Do Ya Hear We records.

Currently, the core group consists of Dupey, Zach Hobbs, Alison Burke, and Scott Campbell, and specializes in screen printing, graphic design, and most recently fashion design.

Dupey says, “There’s a rich history of music-based design” and the goal of Young Monster is to “try to develop a design culture around the music scene” in Chattanooga.

Young Monster pieces can regularly be found touting upcoming events at local venues JJ’s Bohemia and Discoteca, and often add a distinct art aspect to events such as the Bangers Ball and The Chattanooga Roller Girls bouts and shows by the likes of:

Discoteca poster designed by Young Monster

Discoteca poster designed by Young Monster

  • The Distribution
  • King Khan & the Shrines
  • Andrew Bird
  • Those Darlins
  • Lambchop
  • Forest Magic

Dupey says, “The regionality of what we do is really important.  We want to create a voice for our city and the music that comes out of our city.”

A veteran himself of the music scene as a member of Giant Tigers, Dupey has become prolific as a visual artist.

He says, “I personally did about 40 posters last year.”  Add in the output of the other Young Monster contributors and he says the group produced “upwards of 100 posters last year.”

As a group, Young Monster has created a distinctive style, influenced heavily by Polish poster design and film.  Dupey says that film especially is an inspiration because it is a “culmination of film, visuals, music, and graphic design.”

In particular the artists are inspired by horror films, such as the work of Roger Corman, in which they are drawn to the beauty of at times ugly or horrific imagery.

Young Monster has recently branched out further with merchandising, offering posters, prints, cards, and clothing on their website.  Dupey says the worldwide decline in record sales has led the music industry to push gig posters and other merchandise as more products to sell.

As a result, he says the art form of gig posters, while it had never gone away, has found increased public awareness.

Young Monster also recently partnered with Leo Handmade Gallery which officially reopened April 2 and currently features the photography of Robert Parker.

The new store is located at 22 Frazier Avenue in Chattanooga.

Here Nick Dupey demonstrates printing a poster in the Young Monster studio beneath the Leo gallery.

Lady Mocs fall short in NCAA Tourney

By Xan Gwaltney

TEMPE, Ariz. (UTC/The Loop) — The UTC women’s basketball team’s upset bid in the NCAA Tournament fell short Saturday night with a 70-63 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowgirls – a disappointing end to an otherwise great season for Coach Wes Moore and the Lady Mocs.

For the first half the shoe seemed to fit for UTC’s shot at becoming the Cinderella of the 2010 tournament, with the Lady Mocs holding an 18-point halftime lead at 37-19.

View Complete Box Score

In the first half, the Cowgirls struggled to find a rhythm offensively without guard Andrea Riley, the nation’s third-leading scorer, who was suspended for the game.  Also facing a solid defensive effort from UTC, OSU shot just 17.1 percent in the first half.

Mocs Senior Shanara Hollinquest

Mocs Senior Shanara Hollinquest

But after halftime shots began to fall for the Cowgirls, and they were able to apply a frenetic full-court press that forced the Lady Mocs into 17 second-half turnovers.

Freshman guard Kayla Christopher said, “We lost our composure when they went to the press, gave up a few too many turnovers and they took advantage.”

Toni Young scored 16 of her career-high 22 points and Tegan Cunningham scored 19 of her 25 in the second half to lead the Cowgirls’ comeback.

Christopher led the Lady Mocs with 15 points while two-time Southern Conference Player of the Year Shanara Hollinquest had 14 points and 11 rebounds in her final game.  Although this was the end of her college career, she said, “I’m proud of the team and how we performed down the stretch.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

It was also the final collegiate game for Lady Mocs seniors Tagan Hatchett, Megan Rollins, and Jenaya Wade-Fray.

Keep up to date with all UTC sports teams on Gomocs.com

Back home in Chattanooga, fans gathered at Big River Grille on Broad Street for a viewing party.

A sparse crowd of enthusiastic fans left disappointed, but they remain faithful to the Mocs, though many did not attend the university.

Ken Hays, a local art and framing distributor, said he is not a UTC graduate but has supported the Mocs teams and regularly attended games for over 25 years.

Brandon Potts, Director of the UTC Mocs Club, was certainly disappointed with the game’s outcome, but was pleased with a solid turnout from fans at Big River.

The Lady Mocs finish their season 24-9, the program’s 11th consecutive 20-win season.

UCSD Students Battle Hate

By Xan Gwaltney

UCSD launches anti-racism campaign

UCSD launches anti-racism campaign

SAN DIEGO (AP/UTC/The Loop) — The University of California, San Diego has initiated a campus-wide campaign against racism in the wake of a student party that used a ghetto theme to mockingly commemorate Black History Month.

A school Web site outlines the “Battle Hate” campaign that aims to ensure that all students feel “safe, supported and respected.” A teach-in at the university Wednesday discussed the importance of mutual respect.

The off-campus party on President’s Day outraged some of UCSD’s black students, who comprise only 2 percent of the student population.

The party was condemned by the school and a fraternity. UCSD officials are investigating whether anyone can be disciplined.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press

Forest Magic Redefines Music in Chattanooga

By Xan Gwaltney

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) — A group of UTC graduates has been entertaining and engaging audiences like no other local act as it enters it fourth year performing as Forest Magic.

Forest Magic (L to R): Joel White, Nick Turner, Joshua Bennett, Allie Stafford, and Allen Hartley.

Forest Magic (L to R): Joel White, Nick Turner, Joshua Bennett, Allie Stafford, and Allen Hartley. Photo by Julia Davis.

The band formed in the fall of 2006 including members of established bands Suomi, Tremont Beauty Salon, and Brokedown DeLorean.  While Forest Magic has at times included as many as nine members, the current core group consists of guitarist and lead vocalist Joshua Bennett, bass player Allen Hartley, violinist and keyboardist Allie Stafford, guitarist Nick Turner, and drummer Joel White.

They have taken a communal approach to making music, focusing less on songwriting and more on the creation of an environment through their music.  Stafford, a 2007 graduate, recalls her introduction to the group as an opportunity to share musical ideas and “create something positive.”  Bennett, a 2006 graduate, says that Forest Magic was actually “a concept before there was a single note played.”

Bennett describes the band’s approach as a redefinition of folk music that is less concerned with a specific sound, but with the idea of detachment from popular music and a rediscovering and reinvention of music through communal learning and collaboration.

Turner, a 2009 graduate, says having the concept before the music helped give them direction.  He says there was never an effort to commercialize the group.  Instead, he says, they made music for themselves, and committed to having “a positive impact on each other.”

The result is an organic experience in which Turner says music is “a form of meditation or a religion of sorts.”  In a sense, it’s gospel music, just not like you’ve ever heard it before.

The band’s first album was released in the fall of 2009 and reflected the group’s eclectic and conceptual nature.  Turner says even the title, Is Energy, refers to the band’s music being “more of an emotional thing rather than just writing songs.”

Forest Magic's Is Energy

Forest Magic's Debut LP - Is Energy

Listen to Is Energy on Muxtape

More often than not, comparisons are based on the concept and experience of Forest Magic, rather than on its sound.  Admittedly, that sound can be hard to pinpoint, as the group regularly crosses genres and defies classification.  The closest comparisons would be to Animal Collective’s layered rhythmic and melodic blend of neo-folk, noise rock, and psychedelia; however, Forest Magic’s sound often includes elements of the chiming, atmospheric textures of Sigur Ros and the ambient post-rock of Godspeed, You Black Emperor!, as well as aspects of various types of world music.

Although the concept is rooted in the folk tradition, the band is more often found nodding along to Wu-Tang than Woody Guthrie.  And their wide range of influences is reflected in an eclectic sonic mixture.

Visit Forest Magic’s Myspace page

Forest Magic now boasts a catalog of close to 50 songs, and fans can expect to see another album plus individual EPs from group members in the coming months.  Fans can also expect more performances at JJ’s Bohemia where Forest Magic gained notoriety during a resurgent period for the Chattanooga music scene that saw the rise of such local staples as Moonlight Bride, Coral Castles, and Night of the Wolf.

Discover more local music at JJ’s Bohemia

While the band members do not expect to always stay together in their current form, Turner says “we’ll always be personally and musically connected.”

Listening to Forest Magic and experiencing a live show, audiences can expect to feel the same way.

Top Photo by Julia Davis

Missionaries freed in Haiti, return to US

By Xan Gwaltney

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP/UTC/The Loop) — American missionaries accused of child trafficking in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake returned home Thursday and urged the safe release of the two women left behind in a Port au Prince jail.

Four of the eight freed Americans landed Thursday at Kansas City International airport to cheers and hugs. They declined to speak to reporters, but their attorney, Caleb Stegall, read a statement in which they said they were thankful to be home.

“We hope and pray that our release will allow everyone to focus again on the dire conditions that remain in Haiti. People are still suffering and lack basic necessities,” the statement said, adding: “For those whose cases have not been resolved, we will continue to pray for their safe return.

The group’s leader, Laura Silsby, and her former nanny, Charisa Coulter, remained in jail in Haiti. Both arrived at a Port-au-Prince courthouse on Thursday to be questioned by a judge about their plans to set up an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. But the judge rescheduled the appearance for Friday after a translator failed to show up.

“Everything is going well,” Silsby told reporters. “I don’t know the exact day we are going to be free.”

Saint-Vil said he did not release Silsby, 47, or Coulter, 24, both of Boise, Idaho, because the two had previously visited Haiti in December and planned even before the quake to open an orphanage. After the quake, Silsby rushed to pull together the rest of the group.

Silsby’s sister in Idaho, Kim Barton, said learning that her sister could not leave Haiti was difficult.

“At this point, I don’t have any comment. I don’t know any more than you do,” Barton said.

The group was caught Jan. 29 trying to take 33 children out of Haiti without adoption certificates. The arrests came as aid officials urged a halt to short-cut adoptions in the wake of the earthquake.

Silsby originally said the children were orphans or had been abandoned. But The Associated Press determined that at least 20 were handed over willingly by their parents, who said the Baptists promised to educate their kids in the U.S. and let them visit.

The fact that the children were given up voluntarily helped convince Haitian Judge Bernard Saint-Vil to free the eight without bail on Wednesday. They were released with the understanding they will return to Haiti if the judge requests it.

The judge didn’t dismiss child trafficking charges against the eight Americans. But Stegall said he believes the group’s ordeal is behind them.

“I’ve been in regular contact with our Haitian legal team,” he said. “They assure me that charges are or will soon be dismissed.”

Haiti’s No. 2 justice official, Claudy Gassent, said he talked to the Americans before their release and felt they understood they had made a mistake.

“They know they broke the law,” he said.

The group denies the child trafficking charges, arguing the trip was a do-it-youself “rescue mission” to take child quake victims to a hastily prepared orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

The eight freed missionaries returned to the U.S. just after midnight Wednesday, flying aboard a U.S. Air Force C-130 that landed at Miami International Airport.

From Miami, one member of the group, Jim Allen, headed home to Amarillo, Texas, where a welcome home rally was planned later Thursday at the city’s civic center. Allen is scheduled to appear Friday on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

The four who returned home on the flight to Kansas City planned to travel to Topeka, Kan. They included Drew Culberth, a 35-year-old Topeka firefighter and father of four; Culberth’s brother-in-law, Paul Thompson; Thompson’s son Silas Thompson, 19; and Steve McMullin.

Stegall said the Thompsons and McMullin, all from Twin Falls, Idaho, are expected to join Culberth in Topeka for an indefinite stay.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press

Heated Competition Expected in Race to Replace Murtha

By Xan Gwaltney

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP/UTC/The Loop) — Democrats have long dominated the late Rep. John Murtha’s district in western Pennsylvania, but Republicans have made inroads in recent years that could help them win back the seat — and some longtime Murtha supporters say they’re open to voting for a GOP candidate.

Rep. Murtha had represented the 12th District of Pennsylvania since 1974

Rep. Murtha had served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1974

Murtha died Monday at a hospital at age 77 after complications from gallbladder surgery. Gov. Ed Rendell is planning a special election to replace him.

Rose Marie Favina, 69, described herself a Democrat who supported Murtha and particularly liked what she called his “pro-life” views. Now she’s considering switching to the GOP and plans to vote for the best candidate for Murtha’s seat, whatever the party.

“I don’t like being called a liberal, because I’m not a liberal,” said Favina at the Eat’n Center, a deli and grocery in Johnstown, in the heart of Pennsylvania’s hardscrabble coal and steel country.

Political analysts said Tuesday that they expect a competitive contest in the race to replace Murtha, whose ability to steer federal dollars to the economically strapped district made him a powerful figure even beyond Pennsylvania.

The race is expected to be a marquee contest. A Republican win in the traditionally Democratic stronghold would be hugely symbolic and could create momentum for a national GOP that sees itself as resurgent heading into the 2010 midterm elections.

“The unfortunate passing of Murtha opens yet another seat Republicans think they can make a run at,” said Muhlenberg College political scientist Chris Borick. “They’re optimistic.”

Murtha’s district encompasses all or part of nine counties in southwestern Pennsylvania and embodies the region’s image of coal mines, steel mills and blue-collar values. He was elected in 1974 and has won re-election over the years by large margins.

The 12th District in southwestern Pennsylvania

The 12th District in southwestern Pennsylvania

Registered Democrats enjoy a 2-to-1 ratio to Republicans in the district, a November 2009 tally by state election officials showed. But many of those Democrats are socially conservative, the kind of voters that used to be called “Reagan Democrats” back in the 1980s.

“This is a hardscrabble, blue-collar, ethnic, culturally conservative, pro-life, pro-gun, very patriotic district,” said Terry Madonna, a professor and pollster at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. “These folks have deep concerns about the social proclivities of the party in recent years on abortion rights, gay rights and guns.”

“I expect we’ll win that seat,” said state GOP chairman Rob Gleason, who doubles as the party’s chairman in Cambria County, where Johnstown is.

Sylvia Mindish, 60, has owned West End Beer Mart, a beer distributor in Johnstown, for 30 years. She’s a Republican who has long voted for Murtha, largely because of his ability to win federal dollars to boost the area’s struggling economy. She, too, said party labels won’t matter much when she considers who should succeed him.

“I hope it doesn’t come down to a Democrat and Republican thing,” Mindish said. “I’m a Republican and I’ve voted for him repeatedly.”

The willingness of some Democrats, also, to cross over was evident in the 2008 White House race.

Republican John McCain edged Democrat Barack Obama by 873 votes. Four years earlier, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry won the district by 2 points over George W. Bush.

Murtha had a brief scare during his 2008 re-election bid. His GOP challenger gained momentum in the fall after Murtha said some residents of his district were racist, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.”

He apologized, then later told WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, that “this whole area, years ago, was really redneck.”

Murtha eventually recovered and beat William Russell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who moved from Virginia to Johnstown to run against him, by about 58 percent to 42 percent.

Some names of potential Murtha successors are already beginning to surface in the sprawling 12th District.

Republicans planning to compete in the special election include Russell and Tim Burns, a businessman from the town of Eighty Four.

Prospective Democratic candidates include Mark Singel, who was lieutenant governor under the late Gov. Robert P. Casey and now works as a lobbyist in Harrisburg, the state capital, and state Sen. John Wozniak, both from Johnstown.

“I’m having that conversation with my family,” Wozniak said Tuesday, acknowledging that he’s considering running to succeed his old friend.

Singel didn’t return telephone calls Tuesday.

Tom Ceraso, a commissioner in Westmoreland County, said he may run but only if he is convinced he has broad support. A campaign is “something that i would consider given the right set of circumstances,” he said.

More candidates are likely to surface, and it will be up to party leaders from all of the counties to recommend a nominee in the special election to the executive committee of the Democratic State Committee, said Helen Whitefield, the Democratic chairwoman for Cambria County, which includes Johnstown.

“They’re laying back, but the wheels are turning,” Whitefield said.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press

Students Anticipate Bonnaroo 2010

By Xan Gwaltney

Update February 9: Lineup Announced

Confirmed Acts Include: Jay-Z, Dave Matthews Band, The Flaming Lips, She & Him, Phoenix, The Black Keys, Tenacious D, Zac Brown Band, Damian Marley & Nas, and The Avett Brothers.

For the full lineup, visit the Bonnaroo Myspace page.

Original Article February 4

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) — It’s February again, the time of year when students really start to feel bogged down by dismal weather and the rigors of academia.  Many find themselves already looking forward to summer – the second weekend in June to be exact.  That’s when the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival returns to Tennessee.

bonnaroocrowd

Les Claypool awakens the crowd

The name has become synonymous with summer fun since its inception in 2002.  Each year since, it has showcased a wide variety of musical acts to the more than 75,000 that flock to Manchester, Tenn. for the mother of all four-day weekends.  Some of the amenities included are an arcade, a cinema, a comedy club, and a “silent disco” where the not-easily-embarassed can dance along to music heard only in their headphones.

Carson O’Shoney, a junior from Franklin, Tenn. plans to be there for Bonnaroo 2010, as he has been for the last three.  He calls it “the highlight of the year, every year.”  Some of his fond memories from previous years include seeing The White Stripes, Metallica, Sigur Ros, and My Morning Jacket.

While this year’s lineup will not be officially announced until Feb. 9, the rumors have flown even more rapidly in the days leading up to the unveiling of the official lineup.  Numerous websites and discussion boards are devoted to speculation on which big name artists will be entertaining the crowds.  Among them is Inforoo.org, a site composed of discussion boards where fans can spread information and dispel theories.  Radio personality DJ JD Farmhand has helped fans figure out some acts, and at the very least has fanned the flames of debate about who will be performing in Manchester June 10-13.

O’Shoney hopes to hear plenty of Pink Floyd this year, with abundant rumors indicating an appearance by band member Roger Waters performing their epic 1979 album “The Wall” in its entirety, and The Flaming Lips rumored to be performing Pink Floyd’s entire 1973 “Dark Side of the Moon” album.

The Flaming Lips perform

The Flaming Lips perform

He is also keeping his fingers crossed to catch former Beatle Paul McCartney and folk-rock legend Neil Young this year.

Kent Green, a junior from Memphis, attended in 2008, enjoying such diverse acts as Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Pearl Jam, Sigur Ros, and MGMT.  This year, he plans to return to the festival and hopes to see hip-hop innovators Gorillaz and rap icon Jay-Z.

Festival creators and producers Superfly Productions and AC Entertainment will announce the official lineup February 9 on the official Bonnaroo website.

Students React to O’Brien Ouster at NBC


By Xan Gwaltney

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/AP/The Loop) — After a two-week battle between Conan O’Brien and NBC, an agreement was reached to end O’Brien’s run as host of “The Tonight Show.”
The network plans to move Jay Leno back to the program he hosted for 17 years, less than eight months after O’Brien took the “Tonight” throne from Leno. Leno, whose weeknight prime-time hour ends February 11 after just five lackluster months, will return to “Tonight” on March 1.

Many UTC students have been unaware of the situation, but Sana Childers, a senior from Memphis, expressed disappointment, saying, “I like Conan O’Brien a lot better [than Leno]… I’m kind of sad about that.”

O’Brien landed the “Tonight” show after successfully hosting “Late Night,” which airs an hour later, since 1993. In the fall of 2004, the network announced that O’Brien would take over for Leno in 2009. That move by NBC — and endorsed by Leno, despite his clear aversion to leaving “Tonight” — was designed to keep O’Brien from jumping ship when his contract expired. As years passed and Leno strengthened his grip as the late-night ratings champ, NBC anguished over how to keep him usefully occupied on the network somewhere other than “Tonight,” and safely out of reach of rival networks who were courting him.

But after taking over “Tonight,” O’Brien quickly stumbled in the ratings race against his CBS rival, David Letterman. Under Leno, the “Tonight” show was the ratings champ at 11:35 p.m. Eastern, but he proved an instant flop with his experiment in prime time.

Since O’Brien and Leno had both failed to keep up in ratings in recent months, NBC executives felt the need to restructure its lineup. But few people expected the abrupt upheaval that erupted publicly just two weeks ago, when two Web sites posted stories that the Leno’s show would soon be canceled or moved into O’Brien’s late-night domain. Carson O’Shoney, a junior from Franklin, Tenn. was upset when he heard of the potential restructure, feeling like O’Brien was not given enough time to catch up in the ratings, and NBC was “taking away [O’Brien’s] lifelong dream” to host “The Tonight Show.”

Online, many have leaped to O’Brien’s defense in recent days and applauded his stand against NBC. “Team Conan” became a popular Twitter topic for viewers who pledged their allegiance to O’Brien, while Facebook users have done the same with fan groups and status updates which proudly proclaim “I’m With Coco.”

O’Shoney had the unique opportunity of attending a taping of “The Tonight Show” on Monday, and participating in the “I’m With Coco” rally outside Universal Studios, where the show is taped. There, O’Shoney was part of a crowd he described as “just showing support for [O'Brien], wherever he goes.” O’ Shoney also recalls visits from cast and crew of “The Tonight Show,” including trombonist and frequent joke target La Bamba in “a pope-mobile” and O’Brien himself.

Media experts and fans alike have offered speculation on O’Brien’s future. ABC (which airs “Nightline” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”) has said it wasn’t interested, while Fox, which lacks a network late-night show, expressed appreciation for his show — but nothing more. Comedy Central has also been mentioned as a future home. O’Shoney hopes to see O’Brien host a similar show on Fox, where perhaps he could start his own franchise and inspire others to dream of one day following in his footsteps on Fox.

O’Brien’s final night as host of “The Tonight Show” aired January 22, and earned an impressive 7.0 rating/16 share, easily beating out his fellow late-night hosts, and dwarfing his 3.3/10 average during his run on “Tonight.”

Portions of this article were adapted from Frazier Moore, AP Television Writer.