Concerning Lions Make a Splash In Chattanooga’s Indie Music Scene

By Grahm Long

Grahm-long@mocs.utc.edu

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) — From their polished vocals to their seamless integration of jazz and folk rock, The Concerning Lions are emerging as a bright spot in Chattanooga’s independent rock scene.

As their Facebook biography page states, “Split between Nashville and Chattanooga, Concerning Lions is a quintet divided geographically, but united by writing songs they enjoy performing together.”

The group’s formation goes back to a childhood bond between leader singer and UTC student Brian Beise and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Durham.

After a couple of years playing various gigs in downtown Chattanooga with Beise, Durham discovered lead guitarist Chase Gamble and banjoist Daniel Hallum. Through Gamble, the band acquired drummer and fellow UTC student, Nathan Miller.

The fall of 2008 marked the quintet’s debut at The North Chatt Cat, a bar located on Frazier Avenue in the downtown area. Click here to listen how the Concerning Lions got their big break.

The North Chatt Cat, located on 346 Frazier Avenue

While the band generated buzz among music enthusiasts in the region, it also captured the attention of the Sodium Glow record company in Nashville, TN.

David Terry, one of the producers at Sodium Glow, had previously worked with Beise under an internship during high school. However, it was Durham’s connection to Terry that sent them to Nashville.

The meeting with Terry produced the band’s five song EP album titled A Movement Back and Forth, which released in the fall of 2009.

“On the first track of Concerning Lions’ debut EP, A Movement Back and Forth, singer Brian Beise implores: ‘Meet us,’” says Paste Magazine columnist, Rachel Bailey. “Canon” offers a salutation of acoustic strumming and stretchy electric yawns, punctuated by banjo interjections and the occasional tambourine jingle, suggesting the Tennessee mountains from whence these Lions hail.”

The band’s first time in the studio was not only a rewarding experience but also a learning one as well.

“Recording the drums in the studio was interesting, sometimes your hands and feet are not on the beat they should be, but it was good – it made me a better drummer,” says Miller. “It allowed me to listen to things that I never knew that I did before, either good or bad. It was pretty tough at times, because I had to redo things over and over again.”

The Concerning Lions: Pictured from left to right - lead guitarist Chase Gamble, drummer Nathan Miller, banjoist Daniel Hallum, multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Durham, and lead singer Brian Biese.

Beise says the process of composing music has made the band “more intentional about exploring and listening to music.” Brian Biese tells how the Concerning Lions made him a better musician

Recently, the Concerning Lions released a live-in-studio, full length, sophomore album titled The Winter Set.

“Every time we get to do a gig, I try to remember that standing up in front of people and playing songs is kind of a ridiculous thing to do,” says Beise. “And to ask them to take it seriously and clap at the end of the song, it’s obscene in a lot of ways and sort of audacious, so you have to be really grateful.”

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.

Interactive Improv Appears at UTC

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga music department presented an improvisational piano concert by Dennis Thurmond.

The concert entitled “400 Years of Keyboard Improvisation” was held in the Roland Hayes Concert Hall on Mar. 23. This free event was open to students and the public and is meant to be an interactive event between pianist and audience. Pianist Dennis Thurmond took melodies from UTC music majors in the audience and created new songs by merging the chosen song with various genres of piano.

Dennis Thurmond

Dennis Thurmond

Professor Thurmond is a classically trained pianist who practices jazz as well as keyboard synthesis. Thurmond has been in productions such as the New York Vocal Jazz Ensemble as well as for the Boston Pops. As well as touring in Asia and Europe, Thurmond has composed with the Jazz SophistiCats series. Thurmond, a Tennessee native, is the director of pedagogy and specialist in electronic music.

During the performance, Thurmond called on UTC students with prepared melodies that he had never seen before. After looking over the line of sheet music, Thurmond then played the line to the audience. Afterwards, he began improvising what came to his mind from the music he was given. At the end Thurmond had improvised a total of six pieces. Finally, Thurmond was called on stage for an encore were the Memphis born professor played a blues piece entitled “Memphis Blues.

Shaina Ferguson, a senior from Knoxville, Tenn. said the performance was “impressive.” “I had never seen improv done like that before,” said Ferguson

This event, sponsored by the music department, is meant to showcase interactive improvisation according the the UTC music department website. The music department’s website stated that it would be “a one-of-a-kind concert that will be both interactive and entertaining.”

According to dictionary.com, to improv means “to compose, perform or deliver without preparation.” An example of improvisational piano could be seen here by a man demonstrating the technique of freestyle musicianship. Thurmond used his technical background to improvise using musical genres such as Baroque, Jazz, Impressionistic, and Romantic.

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

A Musical History of the White House

White House (AP/THELOOP)-

MELANCHOLY BALLAD

The first East Room concert for an invited audience took place on Feb. 23, 1883, when Chester Arthur had more than 100 guests hear members of Her Majesty’s Opera Company sing Mozart, Verdi and Wagner. The star of the evening was famed Canadian soprano Emma Albani, who sang “Robin Adair” as her final selection. The song had special meaning for Arthur, whose late wife Ellen had sung the Irish ballad many times at Arthur’s request.

THE LION SHINES

Theodore Roosevelt’s White House was the first to feature a Steinway piano, and great pianists soon followed. Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s first appearance at the White House in April 1902 was recounted by portrait painter Cecilia Beaux, who wrote: “The yellow head of the Lion shone gloriously against the satin of the Blue Room. … I think it may have been better than hearing Chopin himself.” Paderewski described the president’s reaction: “The president listened with charming interest and applauded vociferously and always shouted out ‘Bravo! Bravo! Fine! Splendid! — even during the performance.”

NO THANKS

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt brought in professional dancers to the White House for the first time. They featured black vocal artists, the first staged opera, women’s organizations, ethnic groups and an array of American folk singers and players never before seen in the mansion. Offers to perform in the Roosevelt White House came in at the rate of 250 a season during the 1930s. Some who never made it: a young man who demonstrated the “Theremin Wave — a scientific musical mystery,” a woman who played the piano wearing mittens, and an 18-month-old baby who directed music in perfect time.

SONG OF AN EXILE

Famed Spanish cellist Pablo Casals played in Theodore Roosevelt’s White House in 1904, but he stopped making American appearances in 1938 because the United States had recognized the Franco dictatorship. Casals lived in exile, vowing not to return to Spain until democracy was restored. When President John Kennedy sent him a letter inviting him to play for a November 1961 state dinner, Casals accepted because of his admiration for the president. The hour-long concert was serious, featuring works by Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and Francois Couperin, and closed with a powerful encore. “You might know this song,” Casals said, almost weeping. “It’s a Catalan folk song, ‘The Song of the Birds’ — but to me, it’s the song of the exile.”

KENNEDY’S CUES

Kennedy was caught more than once clapping at the wrong time during classical numbers, and sometimes was uncertain when a concert was finally over. Social secretary Letitia Baldrige worked out a secret signal to cue him on when to clap. “As the last piece was almost finished, I was to open the central door of the East Room from the outside about two inches — enough for him to glimpse the prominent Baldrige nose structure in the crack. It worked beautifully that night and for all future concerts,” Baldrige said.

NIXON’S BLUES

Five months before Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace, he hosted governors in March 1974 at the White House, where blues great Pearl Bailey provided after-dinner entertainment. Bailey persuaded Nixon to play the piano, telling the president he could choose any number he wanted. But when Nixon began playing “Home on the Range,” Bailey complained, “Mr. President, I want to sing a song, not ride a horse.” Then the two of them had trouble finding the same key. “I don’t know whether I’m finding him, or he’s finding me,” Bailey said. Vice President Gerald Ford said he’d never laughed so hard. Nixon said: “I just want to say to our distinguished guests that this piano will never be the same again and neither will I.”

SALT PEANUTS

The Carters loved classical music, but also wanted to showcase ethnic and folk traditions as well. In June 1978, the White House hosted a jazz concert on the South Lawn in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival. The concert featured nine decades of jazz performers, including 95-year-old Eubie Blake, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz and others. Carter, sitting on the lawn in his shirt sleeves, asked Gillespie to play “Salt Peanuts” and joined in with repeated chants of “salt peanuts” in the breaks.

CLOSE CALL

Frank Sinatra didn’t have much time to rehearse when the Reagan White House asked him to perform for a state dinner for Sri Lanka in 1984. Security at the White House was tightened in the aftermath of the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and so bomb-sniffing dogs had to check out everything coming into the mansion, including musical instruments. On the day of the dinner, the dogs became too exhausted to work anymore, and Sinatra’s instruments were stranded outside the East Gate until replacement dogs could be called in.

VELVET UNDERGROUND

When the Clinton White House welcomed Czech President Vaclav Havel for a state dinner in 1998, the former playwright made a special request for entertainment by rocker Lou Reed, a founding member of the former rock group Velvet Underground. The group had helped inspire Havel’s leadership of the “Velvet Revolution” that brought democracy to the Czech Republic. In halting English, Havel told about getting his first earful of Reed’s music during a visit to Greenwich Village in 1968, and said, “I’ve been listening to it for 30 years.” Reed’s band for the White House gig included Milan Hlavsa, a bass player from the Czech Republic whose music was inspired in part by Reed.

___

Sources:

—”Musical Highlights from the White House,” by Elise K. Kirk.

—”Entertaining at the White House with Nancy Reagan,” by Peter Schifando and J. Jonathan Joseph.

—AP files

Eric Church Rocks the Chattanooga Choo Choo

By: Jennifer Smith

Chattanooga(UTC/The Loop)-  Country music singer-songwriter Eric Church played for a crowd of rowdy fans at the Chattanooga ChooChoo on Saturday as part of his Young and Wilder Tour.  Church played in a small venue in the rear of the ChooChoo’s vast property. After making an increasingly anxious crowd wait over an hour after his opening act, the Dirt Drifters, left the stage,  he and his band emerged.  Church then revealed that he had a broken foot but promised a great show anyhow.  Church played for over two hours to a loud and rowdy audience who were overjoyed to hear the artist’s country and southern rock fusion.

Despite a broken foot, Church entertains a large crowd.

Despite a broken foot, Church entertains a large crowd.

Matt Smith, 19 of Cookeville, Tenn., said, “He had a broken foot but it didn’t even seem like it bothered him.  He played with more energy than I’ve seen a lot of people play with and he was sittin’ down the whole time.”  Smith and several friends from Cookeville drove to Chattanooga just for this show.  When asked why he liked Church and his music so much, he said, “Because every song either relates to you or you can tweak it just a little bit to relate to you.  Changing a name or a type of alcohol… you can change it and it perfectly relates to your life.”

Church began by playing the song “How ‘Bout You” that made him a fixture on country radio in 2006 and quickly followed that with his chart topping songs “Two Pink Lines” and “Guys Like Me.”  He also included his most famous ballad “Sinners Like Me” followed by a new one, “Carolina.”  The show went on to what Smith called a “sweet jam session” where Church and his band played without vocals for over ten minutes.  This led into what 24-year-old Cookeville native Caleb Garrett said is his favorite song: “Drink a Little Drink, Smoke a Little Smoke.” Garrett said, “Eric Church is like one of the only true country music people left.  I gotta come support the guy, he works hard, he writes great music, and he rocks!”

Amanda Grodeman, 21 of Chattanooga, said she is not even a country music fan but is glad she took a chance and went to the show.  ”I didn’t think I was gonna like it but it was really fun.  He’s definitely an entertainer and I can appreciate that,” she said.

Church emerged on the country music scene in 2006 with his first single “How ‘Bout You”  and has since then, had six singles to make the US Country Top 100 Chart.  His most recent single, “Love Your Love The Most” is currently at number 12.  He has released two albums, “Sinners Like Me” and “Carolina”, both of which have been ranked in the top 10 on the US Country Chart.  Below is a list of his songs and their peak positions on the US Country Chart.

14.  How ‘Bout You (2006)

19. Two Pink Lines (2006)

17. Guys Like Me (2007)

51. Sinners Like Me (2008)

46. His Kind of Money (My Kind of Love) (2008)

12. Love Your Love The Most (2009)

For more information on Eric Church and a list of tour dates visit Eric Church’s Official Website.  Church’s music is also available for purchase on iTunes.

Take a Magical Mystery Tour with The Beatles: Rock Band

by Louise Elliott

CHATTANOOGA (The Loop/UTC) — The Beatles have reunited and you’re their newest member in The Beatles: Rock Band.

This game is rated T for Teen for Mild Lyrics and Tobacco References.

This latest in the line of Rock Band video games offers players a uniquely rewarding experience by allowing them to be part of the musical journey as a member of the legendary quartet.

Just like other versions of Rock Band, players can perform on drums, guitar, bass, or vocals to a number of full length songs.   The Beatles version however has been revamped to reflect the bands’ musical journey and their establishment as cultural icons.

Songs can be performed with up to three vocalists, whose goal is to master the famous Beatles three-part harmonies.

The play format is also slightly different.  Players can begin their journey as The Beatles did at The Cavern Club, the Liverpool locale where the band was discovered.  The journey then continues to other famous stops along The Beatles’ 10-year career.  Players can perform concerts on The Ed Sullivan Show, Budokan (where The Beatles made their Japanese debut), and even rock out at Shea Stadium.

The game disc includes 45 Beatles songs.  Among some of the best game play moments are “Come Together”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, which is performed at The Ed Sullivan Theater, and “Revolution”, from the Abbey Road album.  More songs are available through download.

The allowance of The Beatles’ music in video game form may have been a surprise to some, as the owners of the groups’ catalog have been famously reluctant in releasing songs for commercial use.  According to Switch.com, the game was developed with creative input from Apple Corps (the Beatles’ label), along with that of surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

  • Released 9/9/09 by developer Electronic Arts
  • The Beatles: Rock Band stand alone version (game disc only) MSRP $59.99
  • Published by MTV games

Beatles fans and gamers alike have been anticipating the release of the game for months.

“I love The Beatles,” said Michael Eubanks, a Memphis senior.  “Their music is awesome.”  Eubanks said he has not yet played the game but is excited to get his hands on it.  He said he thinks “Come Together” would be a fun song to play.  “I just love song,” he said.

Amanda Cook, a sophomore from Nashville said she really wants to play the game too, but thinks it’s too pricey.  “I play Rock Band when I get the chance, it’s just really expensive,” said Cook.  “Beatles songs are well known and normally really good, so I think it would be fun,” she said.

Some students have already played the game, but share the sentiment that the game is overpriced.

“I was happy with it, but it’s expensive to buy the guitar and the game,” said Ben Knuettel, a Chattanooga junior.  “It’s cool because it’s all Beatles songs, but I wish there were more songs on it,” Knuettel said.

Overall, the game offers many strong points and memorable highlights.  The graphics are far more impressive than those of other Rock Band franchise offerings.  The story-telling theme is also a plus as it makes the player feel more a part of the game than other similarly modeled versions have.  Playing this is game is becoming one of “The Fab Four”, as you witness their transformation both musically, visually, and culturally.

The only downfall of this version is that it occasionally exposes the overt simplicity of many of The Beatles best songs.  The drum and guitar parts are sometimes extremely repetitive and would be a bore if it weren’t for the attention grabbing graphics displayed during play mode.  Often times, particularly during the earlier catalog, consecutive songs have the exact same drum beat or guitar rhythm.  This can take away from the challenge that makes music video so appealing to player.

Despite, or perhaps thanks to, its sometimes overly simplistic feel, The Beatles:Rock Band is the perfect party game.

I give this game 8 out of 10 Choo-choo whistles.

Write to Louise Elliott at linda-elliott@utc.edu

Related Story: Beatlemania Returns

Beatlemania Returns

By Louise Elliott

LONDON (TheLoop/AP)-Forty years since their breakup, the Beatles are back with newly remastered albums and a video game featuring their music.

Digitally remastered versions of all of the Beatles albums are being released.

The new video game follows in the successful footsteps of the Rock Band legacy and will allow players to become the Beatles while performing their songs.

Fans in London lined up to buy the newly released materials.  Many said they love The Beatles’ music because its what their parents listened to.  University student, Daniela Gutierrez, waited in line to get the video game.  ”My parents were huge Beatles fans and I grew up listening to their music,” said Gutierrez. “I can’t wait to have the game and start playing the songs.”

Some Beatles fans however said they are happy with the CDs they currently own and will not be replacing them with remastered versions.  ”I appreciate the songs and I love the Beatles, but I’m happy enough with the CD collection I’ve got,” said Rory Mulcahy, a visitor to Abbey Road Studio. “I think there is a bit of moneymaking in there.”

  • The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan show in 1964
  • The band broke up around 1970
  • The band released 12 studio albums
  • The Beatles: Rock Band video game released
  • New digitally remastered albums released

Related Story: Take a Magical Mystery Tour with The Beatles: Rock Band