"Undercurrents '97 Report"

by Geoff Wilbur

Sponsored In Part By

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The three nights of showcases and two days of seminars kicked off with an opening night party, featuring the country-leaning keysmithing of ex-(Bill Haley and the) Comet and current Caprice International Records chief Joey Welz and the vocal Skills of Caprice artist Amy Beth. (Joey and Fraternity Records prez Shad O'Shea were Friday's and Saturday's keynote speakers.)

But hey, it's all about music, and I heard a lot.

Among the bands/musicians I hadn't heard perform before...

Lisa St. Ann's (New York, NY) vocal power and clarity (and her band's strong harmonies) would chart AC with the ballads, while her vocal power should please harder rockers.

Australia's Brooke McClymont turned 16 the day before her showcase, but her skills with even the vocal nuances of the country ballad make her the equal of women twice her age. And she's energetic with the uptempo material, too.

Though he's graced the RENEGADE's pages, I hadn't heard Jim Perrett (New Castle, PA) before. While I was there, his expressive, bluesy vocals and quick, accurate acoustic blues guitar-work on uptempo blues cuts was countered by a nice, expressive, change-of-pace bluesy ballad.

I've seen many of the other top bands at Undercurrents before...

Detroit's Red September graced Wings with their loud, tuneful wall of sound. These guys deliver powerful hard rock with lyrical relevance (or, at least, always-interesting lyrics).

The Fifth Wheel (Cleveland, OH) plays very engaging, strumming, guitar-based college rock that will keep a room dancing. The Affair's (Toledo, OH) play guitar-based hard rock with harmonies and effective use of soft bridges and guitar solos to draw in listeners. At times, they're reminiscent of '80s/'90s Starship.

Jayne Sachs' (Dayton, OH) band has that trademark buzz and humm sound wall going. Add Jayne's unique vocals -- driving but with an identifiable lilt -- and you've got Jayne's original style.

Third Wish (Cleveland, OH) rocked Peabody's with dual guitars -- one acoustic and one electric -- that blend as well as Dan's and Tara's voices to form a full, radio-friendly sound without clutter (good for festivals or college bars).

Also worth noting... ivet (Youngstown, OH) delivered powerful, well-performed heavy rock with an original feel.

Rocketship Seven's (Buffalo, NY) wall of sound obscured the tuneful rock vocals (leaning heavily to the pop side) -- like a guitar-drenched, louder, '90s version of Tom Hanks' "Oneders."

And that's just the beginning. Subscribers can watch for more Undercurrents '97 coverage in the August 1997 Industry Edition.

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