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Guest Post: Joe Scale – One Man Maelstrom

10 Sep 2012

written by Scott Osborn

Guest Post: Joe Scale -- One Man Maelstrom
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You know what they say; Austin is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Weird. And Sure, we don’t fight that perception – Take a stroll down 6th Street some Sunday night for confirmation of the (sometimes painfully) obvious. RIP Leslie.

There’s this thing about being weird, though – Weird is Different is Unique. It’s weird because it’s unique. It’s a mold-breaker; it’s one of a kind; it’s the first in a long line. Weird thinks outside the mythical box.

And it’s this weird-as-normal aspect to the Austin culture that gives room for our creatives to blow our minds. For example: Our music venues, if you haven’t noticed, are booking two-man acts as if it’s perfectly normal for a band to only need four hands. And they’re right: Have you caught BK & Mr. E., Before Dawn, The Ghost Wolves, Not in the Face, Killa Dilla?

So it’s only natural that they’d be perfectly fine with dragging in just one person to fill our ears with coolness. And that’s OK, but really? Haven’t we seen enough guitar-toting minstrels busking downtown? We’re Austin, surely we can do weirder than that.

And we will. Case in point – Joey Scale, a one-man percussive maelstrom; a cerebrally-pointillistic performer who took Beale Street Tavern by surprise one Sunday night in August.

One man band, not a guitarist. You might be picturing a dude walking around with instruments strapped on his back and each toe tied to a different horn. Not so:

 

 

 

 

Here’s Mr. Scale’s equipment list – One PA system, one set of heavily-abused acoustic drums and one Octopad full of sampled pleasures.

 

 

 

Check out those sticks at the bottom of the pic. First, that there’s a pile of ‘em, and secondly, the number of scars inflicted on each. Clue maybe?

His modus operandi is :

1) Fire up a bass-perc groove with the Octopad, then -

2) Tap in his melody program – Sometimes using four sticks, xylophone-style, then -

3) Program swirly progressive transmutations of the melody, then -

4) Smoothly pound out a cornucopia of genres on that acoustic set – rock, funk, jazz, depending on the composition and the point in time, then -

5) Repeat steps 2-4 as needed.

Sound weird? Sure, but it snatches you up with it’s unique blend – part electronic, part jazz and part funkadelic; but all parts improv, hypnotically-catchy and listenable.

When he’s on step 4 – pounding the skins – he moves over the kit with that slow-mo, no-effort motion that all experts seem to have. Then he’ll burst out with a furious fill or a splash attack; then follow that with a beat change-up that completely reinterprets the piece he’s playing.

And that’s how he touches base with your favorite genre at some point in the performance – rock, alt-rock, punk, funk, jazz, whatever – a quick change-up that surprises you with a familiar hook amongst the improvisation, nailed down with an almost-lazily performed precision. It’s heart-warmingly weird, this approach, and should you catch it, you’ll most certainly hear something you like.

Catch it you should – There’s something inherently accessible about percussion and those who perform on them (ask any kid what instrument they’d prefer to bang on). At the very least, it beats another busking. Literally.

You can find out more about Joe Scale on Facebook and ReverbNation(And it should come as no surprise that the man is also a drum instructor).

Have any cool gig pics? Upload them to vivogig and share your concert experiences with the world!

 

 


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