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Greenville Music Community Comes Together For A Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience*

Brett Barest Previews Build-A-Band Happening Sunday at Gottrocks

*(That sounds like hyperbole but the math backs it up)
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What if I told you that five incredibly talented bands were coming to Greenville and, should you miss them, you will never have that opportunity again for as long as you live? That sure seems like it would be a good reason to catch a show on a Sunday night if you ask me. For only $10, you would be silly to miss an opportunity like this, should it ever present itself again.

Actually, that is exactly what is happening this Sunday evening at Gottrocks with the Local Green Family Band’s Build-A-Band 5.0. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Build-A-Band, it is arguably one of the most unique concert concepts you will find in town all year long. It is an evening where Greenville’s own music community takes the stage for no other purpose than to have a good time and we, the listener, are fortunate enough to tag along in the fun.

It begins like this: The LOZ Band’s John Durham goes through the names in his virtual Rolodex of Greenville musicians that makes up the Local Green Family Band – A music collective of an untold number of artists. Those available to participate (Sunday night increases these odds for working musicians) have their names thrown into a hat and bands are assembled from a pool of 35 local artists. The result is a five band showcase of local musicians that may or may not have played with or even know. They have roughly four months to meet, get together, and prepare for one night of incredibly creative collaboration.

In the past, bands were selected completely by random but Durham fine tuned the process this year by coming up with the lineups himself. He started with a drummer, paired them with a bassist, added a guitar player and vocalist, and so on and so forth until he had a complete band. He put an emphasis on pairing artists that did not regularly play together and put further focus on aligning artists whose styles might complement each other.

The results are bands that have the likes of April Bennett (of April B. & the Cool) teaming with Rush Morgan to lead a band supported by the likes of Charles Hedgepath, Dr. Luv Beats, and other great local talent. Darby Wilcox, Doug Jones, TJ Lazer’s Michael Carrol and Thomas McPartland, Kelly Jo, Sam Kruer, and so many others that make up a Who’s Who list of Greenville musicians are just some of the names you will find mixed and matched across each of the band’s lineups.

If I can be a total numbers nerd for a moment, I will admit to having done the math on all of this. From 35 artists there are 324,632 ways to make five bands out of them. Five combinations of these possible bands will be on stage at Gottrocks on Sunday, never to be seen or heard from in that particular incarnation ever again.

To emphasize the significance of this, Durham tells me that “one band can play the same set three nights in a row with three different drummers and have three completely different shows”.  The role of each contributing musician is that significant, so the energy of such an eclectic pairing of artists is a special treat. What you hear will never be replicated as the next Build-A-Band will be a completely different version of everything that came before it.

As for what to expect, Durham admits that he is “as in the dark as you are”. He adds that “I can guess at what each band will sound like, but I’m really clueless” as to how each collective unit will actually come together. “This is not part of the long game in our musical careers, but more of a little diversion. Everybody is playing for the sake of playing music.”

Darby Wilcox – a long time veteran of Build-A-Band – used the words “So much fun!” more times than I can count in a 20 minute conversation. That is the energy Build-A-Band infuses in the artists themselves which they in turn bring to the stage the night of the show. “It’s like band camp but with all of your friends,” she says before adding “it’s a big nerd time where we get to dress up and be ridiculous” with a laugh.

At the same time, however, she is reverent about how impactful the event is as an artist. She notes that Build-A-Band challenges everyone on stage to work outside of their comfort zones and play things they normally would not play with people they normally would not play with. She focuses on the point that Build-A-Band was the first time she took the stage as a vocalist without an instrument in her hand. Another time she literally had to rent a flute – an instrument she had not played since she was a kid – to play a part in her one-night-only band’s performance. These were not simple fun frivolous moments on stage but, rather, things that unexpectedly encouraged her to grow as an artist. “I’m not the same musician I was at the first Build-A-Band and neither is anyone else that was there five years ago.”

From past experience, I cannot predict what you might hear on Sunday night but, as Durham tells me, “The biggest thing is the surprise”. What I am sure of, however, is that every one of the 35 artists on stage is there to have a good time and make sure you do the same. You will not see every Upstate musician on stage but you are going to see a damn good representation of them and that is something to be very excited about.

30+ local musicians strategically sorted into five powerful, eclectic, one-time only bands.

A
Dr. LuvBeatz – drums
Chad Hughes – bass
Charles hedgepath – Guitar
Rush Morgan – Vocals
April Bennett – Vocals
Mary Silvergirl – Violin
Monty Craig – Guitar

B
Gavin Glover – Drums
Sam Kruer – Bass
Niles McCall – Guitar
Katie D – Vocals
Jose Ortiz – Vocals
Brian Buffaloe – Percussion

C
Joe Tamburro – Drums
Robbie Edwards – Bass
Zach Dixon – Guitar
Jill Sprague – Vocals
Josh Forbus – Vocals
John Durham – Guitar
Matt Jennings – Keys
Michael Carroll – Vocals

D
Forté – Drums
Jonny Inman – Bass
John Atkins – Guitar
Darby Wilcox – Vocals
Doug Jones – Vocals
Eli Edwards – Vocals
Jordan Lawrence – Keys

E
Kevin Mavis – Drums
Thomas McPartland – Bass
Matt Fassas – Guitar
Kelly Jo – Vocals
Russ Moore – Vocals
Don Gillmer – percussion
Brad Jepson – trombone

Final Note

On a more somber note, I would like to express condolences to the family and loved ones of Scotty Hawkins who passed away this past weekend. I never had the opportunity to meet him but I mourn the loss of any contributing member of the Upstate community, music and otherwise. Bandmate and Upstate blues legend Mac Arnold describes him as “one of the best drummers I have ever played with” and, more importantly, is mourning the loss of a friend. I offer my thoughts and best wishes to all those affected by his loss.

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