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One-man band to perform at Englert

BY JORDAN MONTGOMERY | NOVEMBER 10, 2011 7:20 AM

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Arthur Lee Land's musical performance may create disconnect between one's eyes and one's ears.
Lee Land is a multi-instrumentalist and live-looping specialist. He will perform at 4 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St. Admission for the show, which is a fundraiser for the venue, is $8 for adults and $5 for youth (17 and under).

"We're doing something really different," said Katie Roche, the Englert development director. "We really wanted to create an opportunity for families to come out and enjoy the show together. There will be a limited number of chairs, so we're hoping this will encourage the audience to move around and dance."

Lee Land describes his music as "Afrograss folktronica." Onstage, he plays a variety of drums, percussion instruments, electric bass, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, six-string banjo, and a synthesizer that enables him to create the sounds of many more instruments.

Perhaps what makes his show so entertaining is that he uses special software to create "live looping."

The process allows Lee Land to play each instrument, record it, and repeat it on loop. Eventually, he layers enough instruments on top of one another that it sounds as if there is a large group of musicians onstage with him.

"I understand the limitations of looping and how I have to arrange stuff," he said. "With this new digital setup, I have to be kind of a mental CPU. It's just about understanding how the little pieces make up the big piece."

He said he has been a musician since he was a kid, banging on pillows with chopsticks in front of the television. After the pillows, he graduated to the drums.

During his early experiences as a musician, he focused mostly on folk rock and bluegrass. But a trip to West Africa changed his perspective about music.

"There, they don't have a word for nature," he said. "It isn't something out there; it isn't something you go hang out in. In West Africa, like nature, music is a part of everything. It isn't separate; there is a rhythm in language and a rhythm in life."

After venturing to the western part of the musically rich continent, Lee Land became interested in fusing the region's sounds with his own.

"After hearing so many new sounds in West Africa, all the drum ensembles, the djembes, the talking drum, it was so exciting to me, and I wanted to see how I could infuse that with folk rock and bluegrass," he said. "And when I put that all together I came up with 'Afrograss.' I was able to loop up lots of different percussion parts and make me sound like an eight-piece drum ensemble."


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