with Aaron Jonah Lewis and Ben Belcher
The Social, Orlando FL • March 18, 2012
Carl F Gauze
While downtown for some other errands, I took a cruise past The Social a few hours early. Inside, the band ran a sound check, as out front two scantily clad young ladies fussed around a vintage trailer. Old brass gauges and nautical odds and ends were randomly attached to it and the effect is what we charmingly call “Steam Punk.”
Turns out the girls were recording “messages to the future” which is Mr. Dolby’s latest project. I climbed in, sat though some boring disclaimer stuff, and ate up 30 seconds of my 15 minutes frothing at the screen about cell phones and steam engines. I hope my nonexistent descendants enjoy it.
Later on, the real line formed up and at 6pm or so we drifted in, vetted by an ID check and a wrist band and a pass though the Mohawked ticket taker. Nextdoor some sort of disco show thumped along and, for a Sunday afternoon, things were popping in downtown O-Town. Aaron Jonah Lewis and Ben Belcher took the stage; they are a folk duo that sound like they ought to headline at The Wanee Music Festival. Using a banjo, guitar, and fiddle, they blazed out some solid blues, some traditional and some of their own composition. I enjoyed the prison ballad “Number for My Name” and the provocative “House of David Blues.” After all, there’s no reason not to put traditional Klez music up there with the 1860 West Virginia sound, even if they never heard of a blintz or latke back in the old Shenandoah Valley. And while I loved Mr. Lewis’s expansive beard, I thought his “Cub Scout Den Master in Hot Pants” look a bit… awkward.
By now the place was comfortably full and the crowd eager. Mr. D came out in a shaved head and pork pie hat looking vaguely like a villain from the old Dick Tracy strip. The backing band was simple: a drummer with a notepad computer and a guitar/bassist, and – of course – Mr. Dolby on keys and sequencer. There was a solid rapport between Dolby and the crowd. He seemed as happy to be back on stage as we were to see him. The music ranged over his recent release “A Map of the Floating City” and “Oceana,” but the sound was muddy and hard to decode. I picked up “Credit Where Credit Was Due” and “Submarine,” but soon became lost. As might be expected, technology came to the rescue. A friend with an advanced futuristic communicator opened a music decoder program, and all the song titles I couldn’t guess appeared on a small multi colored window: “Flat Earth,” Broken Memory,” “Road to Reno” all were revealed, complete with lyrics. I believe my job could be automated away if this sort of thing ever became widely used.
As the show rolled along, older songs appeared. “Europa and the Pirate Twins” caught my ear and I slowly guessed the two ladies (now at the merchandise table) were supposed to be the Pirate Twins. Duh. Mr. Lewis returned in regular clothes and jammed, “Airhead” and “I Love You Goodbye” drew strong crowd response, only to be topped by the reaction to the big hit “Hyperactive” and a blowout “She Blinded Me with Science.” The applause was thunderous, and I couldn’t think of anything left to top this, so I slipped out. Soon there was a line of future messengers lined up around the little trailer, and another exciting night on Orange Avenue wound down.
I rank it: great show, mucky sound, and a really fun little promo trailer. That’s rock and roll, Orlando style.