Alcoholic Polyneuropathic Freaks In Hell! A conversation with Jake Benedict of Misanthropic Aggression

FREAK SCENE: Misanthropic Aggression is Tyler Peacock (left), Chris Hammer, and Jake Benedict.
Photo by Alison Benedict.


“Alcoholic Polyneuropathic Freaks in Hell” — it’s a phrase that captures a colorful, albeit accurate, snapshot of most Georgians’ mental state as we grapple with the realities of returning to life after sheltering in place over the last month. It’s also the title cut from Misanthropic Aggression’s latest 7-inch on Boris Records.

On the heels of releasing 2018’s Inability to Cope EP, bass player and lead vocalist Jake Benedict, drummer Tyler Peacock, and singer and guitarist Chris Hammer are back with three-songs that plunge the group’s blend of hardcore, thrash, black metal, death metal, and crust punk into much greater depths. Benedict’s low rumble and Hammer’s demonic shriek create an urgent tension over Peacock’s staccato rhythms. After live-streaming a 7-inch release party on April 20, Benedict took a few minutes to talk about the new songs and finding Misanthropic Aggression’s sound.

The Alcoholic Polyneuropathic Freaks In Hell 7-inch is Misanthropic Aggression’s first new release since 2018, correct?

Yes! The first thing we did after releasing Inability To Cope was to write the song “Blacklisted.” I had already written the guitar riff, so we started arranging it. We worked for about a year and wrote “Black Listed,” then “Retirement From Life (Last Day of Work),” then “Alcoholic Polyneuropathic Freaks In Hell.” Chris came up with the title for that one.

That song feels timely, as many Georgians are struggling with Governor Kemp easing up on the shelter-in-place order. 

Yeah, because you’ve been at home for like a month, drinking too much, and you feel like you’re in hell!

We played with Sanguisugabogg at 529 on March 11, 48 hours before the shit hit the fan. The morning after, I got an email saying my son’s school is canceled effective Monday. He hasn’t been back since.

When we played on March 11, COVID-19 was already here. People were wigging out, about half the normal crowd was there, and people were already wearing masks. They were high-elbowing instead of high-fiving. It was a trippy night.

You know there’s a problem when even the crust punks are washing their hands!

Big time! There was a line out the bathroom door all night, just to use the sink!

“Retired From Life (Last Day Of Work)” is the second entry in a catalog of anti-active shooter songs. “Active Shooter Syndrome (A.S.S.)” from Inability To Cope was about the Mandalay Bay shooting in Las Vegas. I heard the news about it and wrote that song. “Retired From Life …” is about the poor guy who worked in the security shack at the FedEx facility in Kennesaw, maybe six-seven years ago. Basically, he was shot in the gut with a shotgun and lived, but he’s had 80-90 surgeries since then.

I thought about how lyricists like Chris Barnes from Cannibal Corpse write. As a kid, it was terrifying to read first-person perspective songs about being murdered. To twist it in with the urban style that we’ve always had I did a first-person narrative about being killed on the job. I was almost afraid to do it because it’s pretty controversial. But the lyrics are so clearly anti-shooter that it won’t come across like we were glorifying it. But it is supposed to be horrific.


Have you published the lyrics?

The lyrics aren’t posted anywhere yet. I’m such an amateur when it comes to actual music industry stuff. After the records are produced, your PR campaign starts. So as soon as you send off the masters the records get pressed. Then Perfect World Productions, who’s doing our PR, sends out press kits. Once the records come in they get sent out for distribution. Boris Records has distribution through MVD. That takes an additional four weeks. I didn’t know all that, and when we picked the April 20 release date I was working off of my DIY experiences: ‘The records will be here and we’ll get in the van and go!’ The 4/20 release date isn’t official. The distributor’s release date, and the reason it’s not on Spotify or anywhere else yet, is June 8. That’s when I think we’ll post the lyrics.

As soon as we finished this one we turned around and finished a new song for the next record. I want to write about COVID-19, but I need to approach it carefully. It’s a slippery slope talking about this virus; you could easily upset people’s political sensibilities, and I don’t want to be seen as a political band. So I’m figuring out how to approach it lyrically.

That’s tough. The anti-active shooter songs — talking about real-world incidents of gun violence — can easily be construed as being about gun control. It doesn’t get more political than that!

Yeah, it could be taken that way. Personally, I see a pattern of antisocial narcissism at work in these shooters — lonely, loser-types, incels who are incels because they have no personality. I noticed that a lot of them have these traits in common. That’s kind of what made me want to chronicle these incidents, and have more than one song about the subject. The title, “Active Shooter Syndrome,” is a play on “active shooter situation.” In my opinion, there seems to be a syndrome here.

What has changed for the group between these two releases?

It’s a cliché, but we’re figuring out our sound. We had this idea to mix five musical genres: punk, thrash, death metal, black metal, and crust. The first release leaned heavily toward punk and hardcore — we had the cover of SSD’s “Boiling Point.” There were hints of death metal, especially in the long musical section in “Herd Rejector/Unbound Descent,” which Chris composed. There are some sludgy parts, some death metal parts. With the new release we went for more of a first wave black metal sound. If you listen to the long section right after the first chorus in “Alcoholic … ,” it has a second wave, almost Gorgoroth or golden era Dark Thrown back-and-forth going on. Real grim black metal. There’s a lot going on in that song, and I don’t want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but I’m really proud of it.

MISANTHROPIC AGGRESSION: Chris Hammer (clockwise from left), Jake Benedict, and Tyler Peacock.
Photo by Chad Radford


Tell me about the sample at the beginning of “Alcoholic …”

Chris did that. It’s the voice of James Dickey, who was a poet laureate in ‘66. He wrote Deliverance.

The lyrics for that song are two-pronged. I have developed alcoholic polyneuropathy, I guess from drinking liquor for 13 years. I’ve started getting real bad tingling in my hands and feet, my skin and scalp crawl, I break out in hives. So the lyrics are about my personal experiences with it, but it’s also a warning to learn better coping mechanisms than substances. It’s definitely in keeping with my amateur psychology that I like to incorporate.

At the end of “Alcoholic …” we take a hard left turn into a weird death metal theme, which is a riff that I wrote. Sometimes I’ll write parts for Chris, but in this song, the whole end, I said, “You do whatever the hell you want, man. These are the parts I wrote. This is the subject matter. Run with it.

Impetigo is a gore-grind band from Illinois, from the late ’80/early ‘90s. They rule, and their vocals have a real strong influence with all the echo and trippy, kind of rubber banding in and out that you hear.

ALCOHOLIC POLYNEUROPATHIC FREAKS IN HELL: Artwork by Warhead Art.


Who did the artwork? 

The artwork was done by a Ukranian artist who goes by Warhead Art. He’s done three pieces for us — he did the centerpiece. Chris did the layout. The art is in the middle, and there’s a frame with little stars in the corners. Chris did those, and hand-drew the “Alcoholic Neuropathic Freaks In Hell” logo around it. The stars represent the synapses misfiring in your body due to alcoholic polyneuropathy. It’s what causes the pain, which I thought was a cool idea. The photo on the back with the bricks was taken at the ruins of an old civil war-era mill — Nickajack Creek — up near Smyrna. 

The idea was to keep it real simple. No lyrics sheet, no insert, no thank you list. It’s just three songs. The whole thing is influenced by the old Amoebix, Anti Cimex 7-inches; real simple, old-school hardcore shit.

Picture One plumbs the depths of the imagination to find resolve

STRANGE MAGIC: Thomas Barnwell of Picture One. Photo by Todd Briner.


Thomas Barnwell is, perhaps, best known as the co-composer of the score to director Adam Pinney’s 2016 film, The Arbalest, and as the guitar player with the now-defunct indie rock groups Thy Mighty Contract and the Orphins. Alongside his film-composing partner Ian Deaton, Barnwell also runs Deanwell Global Music, compiling and re-releasing LPs of ‘80s material by acts ranging from French new wave outfit Asylum Party to Atlanta synth-punks the Modern Mannequins. The label has also released cassettes such as Deaton’s score to the imaginary film Atlanta Crime Wave, along with titles from hardcore and blackened metal tormentors Rapturous Grief, Waste Layer, and the Haunting, the latter being an early project that featured Cloak’s singer and guitar player Scott Taysom.

When left to his own devices, however, Barnwell writes and records songs using the name Picture One. With his self-titled 2015 debut, and again with 2019’s Bright Spot and the Midnight Sun, Barnwell relied on abstract imagery and purely instrumental arrangements to build spectral atmospheres. However, the arrival of Picture One’s third album, Across the Depths of Seven Lakes, marks a profound change in his songwriting. Here, Barnwell fleshes out a stylish blend of European and American indie, gothic rock, and post-punk influences, culminating in spellbinding soundscapes, and reaching new heights in his songwriting. 

Barnwell’s  low-register, atonal singing brings a more personal and transcendent touch to the album.

“I started singing on this record because I wanted to process a lot of what I have been going through over the last couple of years,” Barnwell says. “I am trying to be more creative lyrically than I have been — I haven’t done lyrics in maybe 10 years, and I wanted that connection again. When you play stuff live, people really connect with vocals.”

What he was going through while writing the album is the timeless fodder of reflecting on a relationship that has come to an end, and the whirlwind of social, psychological, and emotional turbulence that comes along with such upheaval. To make sense of, and ultimately resolve, his cycle of dark feelings, Across the Depths of Seven Lakes summons the strength of unearthly forces. The album’s title is taken from the lyrics of “Love Spell,” a song in which Barnwell sings, “Because distant power is what it takes, and tubes of light lead to this place, spread the flowers and snowflakes, across the depths of seven lakes.” Here, a spell is cast to break through a sense of powerlessness over his circumstances.

“When I wrote the lyrics, I was sitting there, thinking about how I wished I could just do something,” Barnwell says. “I had this idea of magic as a proactive thing that people do because they’re in situations where they can’t do anything. The lyrics came out about someone who wants to conjure love,” he adds. “But in the end it becomes something that helps them to move on.”

The songs and lyrics take on a more honest approach to songwriting than anything Barnwell has offered in the past. Even when fronting the Orphins, songs such as “Sea Song” and “Lost In the Wild” from the 2009 CD Wish You Well (Adair Park) relied on symbolism over real-time, confessional songwriting. Still, the songs on Across the Depths of Seven Lakes sidestep traditional songwriting as Barnwell adopts a wholly different internal persona.

“Singing in a way that I don’t normally sing, and thinking from the perspective of someone else — playing the part of an imagined person, maybe someone who was in a band in the ’80s — helped me be more honest,” Barnwell says.

A palette of constrictive, bass-driven rhythms, heavy chorus, and barreling melodies drive the noisy and claustrophobic opening number “Resolute: The Absolute,” the melancholy pop of “Lily Pad,” and the monolithic EBM dirge of “Chaser of the World.” Each number hands in a balance of graceful and monolithic darkness, fostering a fully-formed concept album that’s fueled by a greater sense of urgency and variety than anything Barnwell has created with Picture One’s previous releases.

“I wanted the first album to be a dark and emotionally melodic record with roots in ’80s cold wave and goth and post-punk,” Barnwell says. “I also wanted to see if I could write something both memorable and catchy without vocals. I wanted to explore a certain sound that I’ve always loved but had never had a chance to with my previous bands.”

Three albums in, Across the Depths of Seven Lakes moves one step deeper and higher into the framework he’s built. — Chad Radford

PODCAST: Papa Jack Couch on a lifetime in songs and asking the questions that cannot be answered

BEARING WITNESS: Papa Jack Couch. Photo by Chad Radford.

Papa Jack Couch arrived on Atlanta’s music scene like a ghost — a man from another era, out of time and out of place, with a body of songs that demanded to be heard.

In 2018, he released his debut album, Meriwether via his own MIle One Records. A year later, he released his second album, Witness Tree, backed by a cast of Atlanta’s finest musicians.

At 70 years old, Papa Jack had suddenly reached a disarming high point as a songwriter, channeling a lifetime of spirituality, wisdom, joy, and tragedy into songs with titles such as “Twilight Memories,” “HighLine Woman,” and the title track from his second album.

With a gentle voice drifting softly over steel strings, Papa Jack summons a deeply felt blend of Southern folk, soul, and cosmic Americana into every note and every nuance of the songs he sings. And every number tells a story — stories of discovering music, crossing paths with his musical heroes such as Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash, leaving music, and ultimately returning after the death of his wife.

Press play to hear a podcast about Papa Jack Couch and the stories behind his songs, featuring interviews with Damon Moon of Standard Electric Recording Co. and Brian Revels.

Big Ears 2020: The ATLien invasion! W8ing4UFOs, Mute Sphere, Dust-To-Digital, and more line up for Knoxville’s annual gathering of adventurous music

Mute Sphere plays the Pilot Light on Thursday, March 26 at 8 p.m. Photo by Priscilla Smith.

Big Ears 2020 has been canceled over concerns related the COVID-19 virus read the festivals official statement.

W8ing4UFOs are still playing their scheduled shows at the Pilot Light. Stay tuned for more information.

As Knoxville, Tennessee prepares for the Big Ears Festival‘s annual pilgrimage of deep listeners descending upon the Marble City’s music venues March 26-29, more pieces are falling into place every day. Festivities for the 2020 gathering include an ever-growing film series and panel discussions, in addition to a lineup of bold musical innovators celebrating their singularly nuanced sounds. A rich lineup of heavy-hitters is on the calendar for this year, including German free jazz luminary, saxophone and clarinet player Peter Brötzmann, Tortoise guitar player Jeff Parker and the New Breed, rock ‘n’ roll poet Patti Smith, Tuareg psych rocker Mdou Moctar, drone music architect Phil Niblock, British free jazz and Afrofuturist provocateur Shabaka Hutchings & the Ancestors, and more.

Amid the flurry of artists and activities on this year’s schedule, Atlanta boasts a particularly strong showing:

Mute Sphere, a group featuring former Faun and A Pan Flute guitarist David Gray, cello and fiddle player Ben Shirley, drummer John Gregg, and percussionist and synth player Chris Childs team up with vocalist Monique Osorio, crafting a blend of composed and improvised rock and modern classical sounds. Mute Sphere takes the Pilot Light stage on Thursday, March 26. 8 p.m. It’s free to anyone who can fit through the door, even if you don’t have a Big Ears pass.


The Rev. Fred Lane is currently setting the South ablaze with the arrival of Icepick To the Moon, his first album over 30 years. The album finds the Auburn, Alabama auteur backed by a group known as the Disheveled Monkey Biters, aka the Edgewood Saxophone Trio (Jeff Crompton, Ben Davis, and Bill Nittler). Rev. Fred Lane and the Disheveled Monkey Biters play The Standard on Friday, March 27. 9 p.m.


W8ing4UFOs photo by Karen Haim.

Coded deeply within W8ing4UFOs’ DNA is a dense and secret history of Atlanta music. Singer and guitarist Bill Taft, cellist Brian Halloran, and percussionist Will Fratesi’s time together reaches all the back to Cabbagetown in the early ‘90s, sharing stages with Southern firebrand Benjamin in the band Smoke. Producer, songwriter, and keyboard player Billy Fields is like the angel Virgil of Atlanta music, leading the way out of darkness into the light. His resume boasts a lifetime spent playing music with a variety of acts such as Follow For Now, Seek, Upstream, Lust, Arrested Development, Dionne Farris, and H.R. of Bad Brains’ Human Rights outfit. Alongside guitar player Sean Dunn of Athens’ indie rock outfit Five-Eight and viola player and Radon Recordings co-owner Katie Butler, the group creates a mighty sound steeped in the kind of steel-stringed anti-gospel defiance that can only be forged in the forgotten underbelly of the Southern Piedmont. W8ing4UFOs plays two shows at The Pilot LightFriday, March 27 at 9 p.m., and Saturday, March 28 at 3 p.m.


Dust-To-Digital co-owner Lance Ledbetter joins Nathan Salsburg, curator of the Alan Lomax Archive, for a listening session and discussion of selected artists, repertoires, and site-specific musical communities, including archival recordings from Ledbetter’s nonprofit organization Music Memory. At Boyd’s Jig & Reel. Sunday, March 29. 2-3 p.m.

Check out the rest of the lineup at www.BigEarsFestival.org.

‘The Lost Boys’ actor Tim Cappello is the real Sexy Sax Man

Tim Cappello still believes …. Photo by Steve Dolinsky.

For decades, Tim Cappello served as a sideman and multi-instrumentalist sharing stages, recording, and acting with a laundry list of celebrities, including Tina Turner, Ringo Starr, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Billy Crystal, Carly Simon, Gregory Hines, and more. He studied at the New England Conservatory of Music with renowned improv jazz pianist and instructor Lennie Tristano. His early ’80s shock-rock band the Ken Dolls were banned from playing Manhattan’s famed CBGB punk dive due to the softcore porno flicks he created to accompany their live shows.

Cappello’s life and musical career are the stuff of legend, yet everything he’s accomplished pales in comparison to the notoriety he gained from the mere 12 seconds of screen time that he landed in director Joel Schumacher’s 1987 teen-angst vampire classic The Lost Boys. With his pro-wrestler physique, wailing saxophone and a pelvic thrust that registers on the Richter scale, Cappello is a pop culture icon known to most as the real Sexy Sax Man.

Since releasing his 2018 debut CD, Blood on the Reed, Cappello has been touring the country as a one-man act. At 64 years old, it’s his first real endeavor taking the stage as the star of the show. Along the way, he’s encountered an overwhelming response from audiences, surpassing anything he could have possibly anticipated.

“No one seemed to care about me when I was their age,” Cappello says. “Then, no one gave a shit about me when I was their father’s age. But now that I’m their grandfather’s age, I’m meeting all of these young people that have tattoos of me,” he laughs. “Since I’ve been out on the road, I must have met 150 people who have a tattoo of me on their bodies.” Continue reading at Flagpole.

Kristen Englenz shines with ‘ingénue,’ Soul Food Cypher celebrates women in hip-hop, and more Atlanta music news

OH EVENIN’ STAR: Kristen Englenz’s debut album is out now. Photo by Leona Tryon.

Over the last three years, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Kristen Englenz has spent much of her time traveling back and forth between Nashville and Atlanta, although she still calls Atlanta home. On Friday, March 6, she returned to the Eddie’s Attic stage to play the release show for her proper debut album ingénue — and yes, that’s ingénue with a lowercase i.

“I thought it was more visually pleasing, interesting, and balanced,” Englenz says. “However, I have found that most people are capitalizing it anyways, so I may have to get over that.”

The album is the follow-up to Englenz’s 2015 The Extent of Play EP, and was recorded by Ken Coomer of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame at Cartoon Moon Studios in Nashville. As the story goes, Englenz had been enlisted to sing back-up on Decatur-based songwriter Mike Killeen’s album Ghost, which Coomer happened to be recording and producing. When Coomer heard Englenz’s parts, he approached her to produce ingénue. Coomer also plays drums and percussion throughout the album, and one early single, “Pray for Rain,” features the golden voices of the Blind Boys of Alabama singing as well. Continue reading at CL.

Moonstompin: Monty Neysmith tells a tale of ska, skinheads, and Symarip

ZUBABA: Monty Neysmith performing in Sidney Poitiers 1973 film A Warm December. Photo courtesy Monty Neysmith.

In the secret history of ska, rocksteady, bluebeat, and reggae music, few names carry such bedrock mystique as Monty Neysmith. In the fall of 1965, he moved from his home near Kingston, Jamaica to the U.K. to study law at Lincoln’s College London. But rather than sticking with the curriculum, he fell in with his cousin Roy Ellis and a band called the Bees, playing American soul and R&B hits by the likes of James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding. He bought a Vox organ, and what was supposed to be just a weekend gig playing with the Bees turned into an every-night affair. After a few lineup changes, and a one-off gig in a Jamaican club, everything changed.

“We used to play songs like “My Girl” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” But for the gig at the Jamaican club we added in a couple of Skatalites songs,” Neysmtih says. “Roy blew them on the trombone, and I remember doing a few vocal songs as well. When we finished the first one the place went wild. Finished the second one: Wilder. The guy who ran the club was named Charlie, and he said, “Why don’t you guys play more ska, man?”

Over time, ska became an increasingly bigger part of the Bees’ repertoire, which landed them on the road backing up the legendary Prince Buster, and an honest-to-goodness hit backing Eddy Grant of the Equals (and later of “Electric Avenue” fame) for the 1967 single, “Train Tour To Rainbow City.”

It was Grant who prompted the group to change its name to the Pyramids. Later, to work around contractual obligations, they spelled the name backwards, and gave it a twist to roll off the tongue with a little more ease — Symarip. Skinhead Moonstomp was another alias as well, which culminated in the 1969 underground classic LP that captures a day in the life of working class London.

While the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Who were ascending to pop greatness in the U.K., Symarip literally brought boots to the dancefloor, as the city’s skinhead subculture rallied to the tune of Neysmith’s clarion call: “I want all you skinheads to get up on your feet. Put your braces together and your boots on your feet, and give me some of that old moonstompin.’”

It was a cultural mashup of the times — the same year that astronaut Neil Armstrong left that first dusty boot print on the moon, Neysmith and Co. were commanding audiences to scuff up dancehall floors with songs such as the oompah-laced “Skinhead Jamboree,” the breezy “Skinhead Girl,” and a swinging version of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”

Despite the good natured and celebratory vibe of the music, semantics in the post-Geraldo Rivera world of tabloid journalism have aligned the term “skinhead” with right-wing hooligans. But this corrupt definition of the music, scene, and culture could not be further from the ethics of the community that rallied around Symarip’s shows.

“I have to explain it to people everywhere — in America, in Jamaica — whenever they hear ‘Skinhead Girl’ or ‘Skinhead Moonstomp,’ they start asking,” Neysmith says. “I say listen, you have to understand that the skinheads you hear about are false skinheads. They are bone heads who just stole the style. Real skinheads love Jamaican culture and they love Jamaican music. It was the real skinheads — the working class — who kept Jamaican music alive for all these years. It’s just a culture and a way of life,” he goes on to say. “It’s much bigger now than it was when we made the Skinhead Moonstomp record. For example, last year and the year before I played at a concert called “The Great Skinhead Reunion” in Brighton. Skinheads from Germany, Spain, Italy, France, the UK, and all over the world came for the whole weekend. These are authentic, diehard fans. Most of them dress the part: a lot of boots, tattoos, low haircuts, the girls come out with their curls. Nobody is there to start fights. They’re there for the music — Jamaican music, Northern soul music, from Northern England and all that. I love the skins, man. They’ve kept me alive!”

Over the years, Neysmith has continued performing under various names such as Zubaba, which landed a part in Sidney Poitier’s 1973 film, titled A Warm December. More recently Neysmith has continued performing with an on-going version of the original group that’s now dubbed Symarip Pyramids featuring Neysmith along with original members Michael Thomas and Frank Pitter. Since the late ‘80s and early ‘90s Neysmith has called Atlanta home, where he continues writing and performing under the name Monty Montgomery.

On February 28, Neysmith headlines the 2020 Winter Weekender festival at the Earl. He’ll be joined on stage by a coterie of Atlanta musicians including guitar player Rob Kincheloe, drummer Michael Griffeth, and members of the Southern Ska Syndicate including bass player Jay Wallace, guitar player Lester Dragstedt, tenor saxophonist Brett Rakestraw, trombone player Andy Hawley, trumpet player, Chad Paulin, and keyboard player Billy Fields.

The group is performing the album Skinhead Moonstomp start to finish, along with a few solo numbers and a new Symarip Pyramids song, titled “War On Mars.” And when he delivers the line, “Martians are trying to steal our ska,” he pushes the music and the culture one boot print further, to the moon and beyond.

Friday, February 28. $20. 8 p.m. (doors). Monty Neysmith with members of the Southern Ska Syndicate. DJs Darren Reggae, Rico Rejoie, and Yaya Birg also perform. The Earl, 488 Flat Shoals Ave. S.E. www.badearl.com.

The Fictive Five (Less One Live): Forget Reality, Larry Ochs talks composition and structured improvisation

The Fictive Five photo by Petra Cvelbar

In the fall of 1969, Larry Ochs was bouncing between majors at the University of Pennsylvania, while working as a college radio DJ at 88.5 FM/WXPN. “I was a rock guy back then, I liked Jimi Hendrix,” he says. “The station had an incredible jazz collection but at the time I didn’t know much about jazz.”

One afternoon, word spread that a ‘pretty far out band’ was playing in a decommissioned church not far from WXPN’s studio. As Ochs recalls, most of the staff was going to the show, so he went too.

What he encountered there was none other than the Sun Ra Arkestra. The ceiling was so low, he remembers, that the performers couldn’t stand all the way up without bumping their heads.

“All that power was happening in this tiny church basement,” he says. “Being there, witnessing that performance really changed my life. I didn’t get what the hell was going on, but I sure wanted to go back. There were dancers running through the crowd because there was no room for them on stage,” he adds. “The whole experience made the world move under my feet.” Read the full feature story at The Chattanooga Pulse.

The Fictive Five plays three shows on its current run through the Southeast: On Tuesday, March 4 at Timucua Arts Foundation Orlando, Florida, at Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Barking Legs Theatre on Thursday, March 5, and at Hendershots in Athens, Georgia on Friday, March 6.

Classic City Wax compilation captures a moment in Athens hip-hop

One of the more popular numbers from Athens rapper Squalle’s repertoire is a song called “Til We Fall.” For the artist born Torrance Wilcher, and raised in the Rolling Ridge and Pauldoe neighborhoods, the song is a hardcore statement of purpose.

“I’ve been on my mission from my birth,” Squalle rhymes. “My ambition I would like to give to the Earth/ And since you’re Mother Earth, you can share it with the world/ I wanna be the truth that our boys and our girls see/ I learned I was created from the dirt, so I gotta show these trees where they started from first.”

Squalle’s words are a community rallying cry—a decree to set an example by always remembering where you came from and never forgetting where you want to go. “Til We Fall” is one of 12 songs featured on a new compilation LP titled Classic City Wax, Vol. 1. The record is a survey of Athens’ brightest hip-hop artists, from Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Linqua Franqa to rising artists LG, Motorhead 2x, Son Zoo, LB, Kxng Blanco, DK, Cassie Chantel, The YOD, Caulfield and elder statesman Ishues. Continue reading at Flagpole Magazine.

Kronos Quartet violinist David Harrington discusses the power, mystery of music in ‘Penn State News’

Kronos Quartet photo by Jay Blakesberg

“The very last thing the great Polish composer Henryk Górecki said to me was, “I hope one day I will understand how music works.” And that’s been inscribed in my inner being. If Henryk — one of the most incredibly musical people on the planet — didn’t understand how it works, I don’t think anybody could. He had the presence of mind and the humility to say he didn’t understand it. And he confirmed what I feel. How does it work? It’s a mystery that I love to explore every day of my life.” — David Harrington

Read the full Q&A at Penn State News.