ALTON — As part of the newly expanded music program, Jacoby Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 17, will host three Riverbend-based artists who share a common thread in their approach to creating original music, yet produce an eclectic and diverse array of sounds.
Hideous Gentlemen: Though based in Granite City, Jared Unfried is no stranger to the Alton music scene. He has participated in Alton Main Street’s Big Gig Local Music Show on three occasions — first with his former reggae/rock band The Dogtails in 2009, then as a special guest guitarist with Alton indie-rock/neo-soul weirdos Hope & Therapy in 2010, and more recently as this, his mostly solo acoustic project, Hideous Gentlemen, in 2012. Taken from his Facebook page, he brands himself simply as “a singer, songwriter, song collector, guitar player, pianist, and boot stomper from the shores of the Mississippi River,” but even just looking at the diversity found in those Big Gig appearances, it becomes quite apparent that he is a complex and exciting artist and performer. It may be easiest to lump Hideous Gentlemen’s musical style in with the “neo-folk” movement, which is enjoying a revival via popular artists like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, but the genre seems to already be burning itself out due to over-saturation. Artists with an honest and true approach become harder to find, but Hideous Gentlemen embodies the “one of the good ones” mantra, and promises a heartfelt and compelling performance not to be missed.
Sweet Dirt, based in Alton, has been forging a sound over the past several years that can be melodic and soaring at times, and driving and stomping at others. Start with vocalist/acoustic guitarist John Young’s stage presence, which conjures that of a deranged televangelist shouting and pounding a podium, with thoughtful command, and fragile vulnerability alike. Add in some crunchy electric guitar, and a bass and drums rhythm section akin to Entwistle/Moon of The Who and we’re getting somewhere. You could sum it up as acoustic/electric folky-bluesy hymnal-punk if it helps, but these guys have a sound all their own.
The Judge, based in Granite City, is a rock ’n’ roll band whose sound may have been more expected at the old St. Louis Arena opening for Rush in ‘78. Citing influences like Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple, the general public should definitely make the effort to see them in the intimate confines of the Jacoby Arts Center before they’re too big for their bell-bottoms.
So, it was mentioned earlier that these three acts share a common thread, but what is it? Simply (or maybe not so simply) put, they all have respect for the evolution of rock music and have taken what they needed from the various eras and used it to make their own aural art. In a time where music and art continue to lose monetary value, due in part, to streaming technology and a generally impatient, instant-gratification geared society, not to mention the seemingly dominant culture of tribute acts, particularly in the St. Louis area, it would behoove many to slow down, pay attention and take in some quality, original art hand-crafted by the talented people right in here the local community. From the Greenwich Village folk movement pioneered by the likes of Bob Dylan, to the rock ’n’ roll swagger of Led Zeppelin and The Doors, on up to modern legends like Fugazi and Radiohead, if any of the aforementioned name-drops speak your language, then do not miss this show. Enjoy highly talented and entertaining musical artists performing in a clean and intimate setting that is not your average local tavern. Supporting the arts and entertainment scene in your local community is essential for a robust social landscape. Jacoby Arts Center aims to bring exciting concerts to the space on a regular basis, and we are anxious to see new faces and ideas come through the doors and be a part of the arts community in Alton.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 for age 21 and up and $7 for guests younger than 21. For information, go to www.jacobyartscenter.org.