By Cory A. Thompson – Staff Writer – firstname.lastname@example.org
With two minutes remaining before the scheduled start of their Thursday performance, Sirius.B cellist Franklin Keel raised his hand, silencing the drums of his bandmates.
“Should the snares go first, or should the tenors?” asked Keel, who also plays with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra.
A streetlight illuminated the six members of the local band where they stood under the Highsmith Union bridge. Each member held a drum. Imhotep Dlanod, a percussionist born in New Orleans, wore his drum around his waist.
“It doesn’t matter,” Dlanod said. “It’s time to go.”
Hands and mallets danced over taut drum surfaces. Six voices rose together in song. The doors swung open at the touch of a button and the self-described absurdist gypsy folk funk punk band marched, for the second time that day, toward a waiting crowd.
Nearly eight hours earlier, the band gathered for a lunchtime parade through the university dining hall and onto the main university quadrangle.
“I’m a geek for a parade,” Lee Standford, the band’s violinist said. “I never miss the opportunity to be in one.”
Dlanod recruited Kayvon Kazmini, a senior jazz studies student who plays the saxaphone, to march with the band. According to Kazmini, he couldn’t stop himself from joining festivities despite the need to study for a test.
“I was walking by at the right time and Imhotep thought I was the sound guy,” Kazmini said. “I told him I played saxophone and that was it.”
Kazmini and the band paraded through the silenced cafeteria to the surprise and joy of one university freshman.
“At first I thought there was some kind of impromptu circus,” Mary Francis Kidd, a freshman art history and French student, said. “I thought it was maybe people banging pots and pans. The band really put a smile on my face.”
For their headline performance, Sirius.B traded their percussion for an eclectic instrumental lineup, and their wordless song for lyrics in English, Spanish and Hebrew. According to frontman Pancho Romero Bond, traditional melodies sound best with innovation.
“We do very little strictly traditional stuff,” Bond said. “We take music and put our own spin on it. We keep the cultures alive in our own way.”
In addition to a cello and violin, Bond worked an acoustic guitar and Asheville’s Brian Hermanson played clarinet. Xaiver Ferdón, who studied flamenco guitar in Spain, handled multiple stringed instruments.
Agya Boakye-Boaten, a drummer and director of the Africana studies department, said the musical diversity pleased him.
“The multiplicity of the instruments is inspiring and the music is very soulful,” Boakye-Boaten said. “This is absolutely fantastic.”
On the dance floor, students grooved to swinging folk tunes and fast-paced funk jams. A mashup of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and a slow crooning number shocked and delighted a darkened room packed with students and community members.
“I just want to hear more,” Keeley Ann Turner, a junior new media student said. “I love Sirius.B’s music and their style. We need more of this here. This craziness is what Asheville is all about. Bring it to UNC Asheville.”
Watching the main concert from the student union’s food court, cultural events organizers said they deemed the show an overwhelming success.
“We never imagined this many people would be dancing,” Cori Anderson, a UNCA alumna and the cultural events program coordinator said. “We just wanted to put on an event that was free, local and open to the community for the first event in our REAL series.”
The Rediscovering Entertainment, Arts & Learning series will continue for the duration of the academic year and will feature speakers, dancers and several more musicians, including the African rock performer Bombino.