Sure, the 2011 UMAF has a proverbial wave of musicians traveling into the city to make beautiful music. But it’s the local, working musicians who have risen to the level of support beams of the scene, and they are not to be taken for granted during this crush of visiting artists! A perfect for instance is the treat it is to experience the music of Ryan Miller, j. schnitt, and their collective projects of The Archipelagos and The Neon Marias with fellow locals Gabe Lockwood on bass, Matt Wagner on synthesizer, keyboards, and guitar, and Rob Piperata on drums. Well, ok, things get a little interesting with the role assignments and cross collaborations, and you need a guide book. Please allow me.
j. schnitt has been making solo music on all potential fronts for a substantial period of time. He has released something like 9 albums of work to date with no signs of slowing. He can craft a lyric and melody that reaches inside and there is nothing I would call typical about his active and articulated picking and well placed chugs and progressions. As long as I’ve been listening, he’s always had an intriguing ear for melodic rhythms and timing. There is a lot of movement in schnitt’s music on many levels and it is both comforting and intriguing. His roots began and spring from traditional singer songwriter fare, but he didn’t rest there long. He has branched far out as a multi-instrumentalist with piano, “other things with keys, drums and stuff you hit,” accordion, bass, harmonica, banjo, mandolin, theremin, horns, sampling, audio manipulating, and knob twisting, to his clutch of audio paintbrushes. He’ll add household objects into that mix and I’ve seen him play more than one thing at once. If it makes a noise that intrigues him, he’ll play it. He is painting pictures with words and sound and can’t be hemmed in. He is telling stories and sharing an experience that speaks deeply to the journey of an authentic artist in the region and the human condition in general. And, he has a stellar hat collection. Let the links at the bottom of the profile be your friend. You have a lot to catch up on.
Speaking Esperanto, j. schnitt and Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller is another area staple and favorite son. Also with roots reaching deeply into the soil of the music community, Miller has recorded umpteen records as a solo artist and collaboratively with schnitt and others in projects such as MODUS, The Reuben James, and the aforementioned groups which I will get into in further detail. The website is delightfully comprehensive, so check it out for a full picture. There is a textured depth to the music Ryan makes that is special. It is easy to respond and connect with the themes on which he writes and the ability he has of describing things which are difficult and necessary, beautiful and painful, most of the time with a damn catchy hook and a present sense of irony. It’s poignant, real, and hopeful. Acoustic or electric, it’s difficult not to hum along and enjoy yourself even on first listen, let alone once you reach deeper. By this time, if this is your first Ryan Miller show, I suggest you mark up your calendars and prepare to explain yourself. The most recent album The Flood, which I personally find to be the apex of his work to date and a regional desert island disc, is available along side several other projects and records at Ryan’s links below. School yourself.
Liquor Store, available on Miller’s most recent album, The Flood
So far you have the history, it’s time for the now. Miller and schnitt unite again in both projects, The Archipelagos and in The Neon Marias. The difference is who is driving the ship and where the band members happen to be sitting. Schnitt is the primary songwriter in The Archipelagos, and Miller takes the helm of The Neon Marias. The other members are the same, Gabe Lockwood Matt Wagner and Rob Piperata. Lockwood plays the bass. Wagner plays keys and synthesizer in the Archipelagos and guitar in Neon Marias. Pieprata is the drummer. This diverse group of people have all been making music, wearing different hats, for long enough to be very good at mixing up dynamics and shaking comfort zones and seem to have no end of fresh ideas in collaboration. The musicians filter their ideas through different lenses to reflect their full spectrum of sounds.
Everyone is playing everywhere, and here are the gritty details. Pack the houses as all of the below:
Friday Sept 16th – Sickenberger Lane (outside)
10:00 pm 10:45 pm The Archipelagos (J’s band)
11:15 am 12:00 am The Neon Marias (Miller’s band)
The bands are playing back to back sets – handy! Event Page!
Miller Acoustic –
Thursday, Sept. 15th from 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm at The Celtic Harp (indoor stage)
Miller and schnitt as a duo are also opening for the Ryan Montbleau band on Saturday, Sept. 17th at the Uptown Theatre! Scored off an online poll done by the Utica Music and Arts Festival, this is democracy at work.
And purchase your weekend passes to the event here! Early bird price exists until August 31, 2011!
This is simply because I can’t resist. ❤