Musicians go outside the box for AUX

May 5, 2011
Athens Banner-Herald

Musicians go outside the box for AUX
By Joe Vanhoose

Don’t be too discouraged if you don’t recognize a lot of names in the AUX 5 Experimental Arts Festival lineup.

Many of the bands are familiar Athens music faces. They’re just in different places.

“The names have changed, but the players are familiar,” said Heather McIntosh, the festival’s artistic director who just happens to play the heck out of a bass and cello. “You’ll see a lot of people you know.”

They’re just doing things you may not have known about. The fifth annual AUX Festival is different from all the other festivals that bands fill around Athens. This is a festival for side projects, a chance for professional musicians – both from Athens and beyond – to show off their hobbies.

“This is all geared around what Athens musicians do when they experiment,” McIntosh said. “It gives people an opportunity to explore different mediums that they might not usually explore.”

More than 25 bands will perform throughout the day, but that’s just a part of AUX. CinĂ© will host more than 15 video screenings, and quite a few groups will put together special outdoor installations.

For instance, The Apples in Stereo’s Robert Schneider, along with a few colleagues, will demonstrate the teletron mind controller synthesizer. It’s a system of two synthesizers that can read both sides of someone’s brain and play accordingly.

Dixie Blood Mustache, which has been around since the early years of the famed Elephant 6 Collective in Athens, has put together a special audio installation that evokes some memories of the 1990s, McIntosh said.

Andrew Raffo Dewar will perform a special saxophone demonstration. The University of Alabama professor specializes in experimental art and studied with jazz legends like Steve Lacy and Bill Dixon.

Of its five years, this is the largest AUX Festival; as usual, it will jump back and forth between Ciné and Little Kings, but Little Kings will be set up with two stages, one inside and another outside.

The main stage at Little Kings may be just big enough to hold all of Pocketful of Claptonite’s Big Band. The typical trio has expanded to a 10-piece for this show.
“Last year, we added two pieces, and it was a real success,” said Killick, de facto leader of Claptonite. “This year, we figured we’d add seven.”

The core lineup of guitar, bass and drums will welcome an extra drummer, two more guitars, a theremin, lap steel, electric bass (played by McIntosh, no less) and a keyboard.
The extra sound should allow the band to reach for a higher level, which is what AUX is all about, Killick said.

“What’s exciting is that the lineup is varied but adhesive,” he said. “The whole day is very musician-friendly, which makes AUX such a fun endeavor.”