Silver Chips Online
A consummate chorus of "Change for China"
Benefit concert provides an extraordinary array of local artists
By Fran Djoukeng, Online Entertainment and Sports Editor
April 25, 2009
Green, red and yellow streamers draped from walls. Black and white oriental fans served as a table centerpiece. Miniature Chinese character tattoos were available for adornment. These cultural symbols drew attention towards a spectacular stage of diverse bands supporting the earthquake victims in the Sichuan province of China.
Uncle Chunky brings sophomore Colin Wiencek, who coordinated the event with his peers, onstage to play a song.
The names Christos, Gene Gregory, The JV Myka Project and Uncle Chunky may not seem to have any connection, but they ensured mesmerizing strokes of good fortune last night during the Change for China Sichuan Benefit Concert held in Blair's Student Activity Center (SAC). These artists showcased a stellar spectrum of musical styles to benefit a fund sponsored by members of O Ambassadors, a group of 10th grade Communication Arts Program (CAP) students, that raises money for basic amenities for victims of the 19th deadliest earthquake in the world. At the night's end, the concert raised about $1,800.
A native of Baltimore, singer Gene Gregory shared some of his original tunes in a strong solo act by playing a wooden guitar to perfection. With a slightly aggressive and authentic voice, Gregory pleasingly performed a rare musical style: acoustic heavy-metal. He brought energy to the crowd with "Down You," a feel-good song with a catchy, up-tempo melody. Gregory also subdued the audience in a tender moment with "Rear-View Mirror," a slow pop number that presented an optimistic vibe about dancing to the "beat of your own drummer."
His unusual style and strong stage presence enhanced his most emotional song, "Golden Summers," which he sang with intense vocals infused with aggressive rock undertones. Still, parts of his program, which featured similar preludes played on the same instrument, sounded redundant. He ended his night with a funky cover of Neil Young's "Rockin' in a Free World," which successfully set the tone for the rest of the night.
Picking it up a notch, The JV Myka Project, also developed in Baltimore, included two guitarists, one drummer and lead singer JV Myka. The band's most noticeable aspect was their superb harmony, particularly well-displayed during an unnamed number about unhealthy relationships. JV Myka stood out as a passionate singer with powerful chords, ably delivering a soulful voice that ushered the crowd in a head-bobbing trance to several numbers, such as the sensual song "Blind Fate."
The JV Myka Project, a local band, performs at the concert, providing a blend of originals and cover songs with a bluesy rock sound.
One of the best performances from the band was its hip-infused rendition of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," which modernized the crowd's mood to a more loose and exuberant feeling. The Projects then played "Find Another Love," a song with a combination of a psychedelic and techno-beat background that left a subtle warning about casually moving on after a broken relationship. Despite minor technical difficulties, this band succeeded as the most mainstream pop group of the night.
A bang of the drums signaled the next performers, Uncle Chunky, whose band included several Blair alumni. Uncle Chunky brought a west-coast feel with light-hearted numbers. They opened their segment with a catchy song, "Anything for Love," accompanied by two guitarists, a bassist and one drummer, that eased the crowd into a chill mood. The band also featured lengthy solos by the drummer and bass in subsequent sets.
Possibly the most captivating song was an unnamed, bluesy, slow-paced number that showcased a steady crescendo from the guitarists, creating a great metrical backdrop for the song. Following the lead of previous performers, Uncle Chunky ended with a version of a Beatles' oldie.
The final performers, the Christos group, also featured a cover of a Beatles' record, setting a carefree and upbeat vibe. However, the band excelled more in smooth jazz-style entries. "Circles" was a crowd favorite that the band performed with a moderate, funky-rhythm flow. The last song, "Run to Another," gave a sanguine message to the audience that urged people to help others through the storm, reiterating the concert's ultimate goal.
Together, these eclectic bands created a vibrant atmosphere that combined edgy and soft music styles. Each band presented distinct musical tastes and talents, from indie rock to bluesy pop and aggressive acoustic. The three bands, The JV Myka Project, Uncle Chunky and Christos, and one soloist, Gene Gregory, touched on various topics of love, life, romance and remorse but still embraced exciting renditions from popular musicians. Although they may not share collective styles, the artists gratifyingly performed assorted songs, all towards the common cause of benefiting Sichuan Province earthquake victims.