Sidecar Symposium puts variety first

Sidecar Symposium aims for a vaudeville extravaganza with every show.

Sidecar Symposium aims for a vaudeville extravaganza with every show.

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Less a band than a performance troupe, Sidecar Symposium’s music is only the beginning of its offerings.

Formed roughly a year ago, the idea behind the act was to put on an ever-expanding show to include skits, dance, comedy, burlesque and to satisfy any other whims of the group’s five-member core or its guest participants and inductees. While the variety show is intended to always focus on the group’s original music, the act is thus far in its first phase, devoting most of its efforts to establishing the musical catalog. Now with its initial compositions fleshed out, Sidecar Symposium is shifting its attention to developing the rest of the show and incorporating new acts.

With the theme of leaving no idea unexplored, Sidecar Symposium has assembled a set list of songs that span not only genres, but eras of music. Embracing elements of funk, punk, blues, glam, lounge and musical theater to name just a few, the band’s most identifiable aspect is its variety.

“We want to travel through the ages and fit it all together in a way that is seamless,” says Dr. Glock (drums). “Songs can be retro and modern at the same time. To me, that’s the defining sound or aspect, but I also want it to be timeless in its own right.”

“We all have different backgrounds and areas we come from — jazz, musical theater, and me from ’80s hair bands and punk rock,” adds Dane Bramage (guitar/vocals). “We thought about making just a creative sideshow. There’s some funk, there’s a little musical Broadway, there’s some glam, definitely blues and some rockabilly stuff. I definitely bring my love of ’80s hair metal.”

Fueling the diversity of musical styles are the exotic backgrounds of the alter egos presenting them. The songs of Sidecar Symposium are delivered as a sort of rock opera, complete with costumed characters whose origins are recounted through song.

“We don’t just perform as a band,” explains Lulu Skidoo (vocals). “Each of us has a character, and we’re building back stories like how we met. A lot of the songs illustrate those stories.”

“There’s a definite yin and yang between Lulu and Rosy Blu (vocals/percussion),” elaborates Bramage of the act’s leading ladies. “Where Lulu is very sultry and reserved, Rosy is exactly the opposite, jumping and dancing around, knocking drinks over ...”

With an EP in the works, Sidecar Symposium is now looking to branch out, playing out-of-town shows and bringing in new talents. The group offers an open invitation to anyone with interest in contributing new facets to the show, noting commitment is the only requirement. Envisioning a vaudeville extravaganza for future performances, Sidecar Symposium has set no limits on the number of participants it could include.

“The idea was to be a vaudeville act that presented a safe place to create and brought in other acts like stand-up comics and burlesque girls, and we would play in between,” tells Blu. “But we knew we had to get the band really solid before we asked other people to be a part of it.”

“I think we’re on the same page in just getting this kick-started and getting more people to play with us regularly,” Skidoo elaborates. “One of our casting calls is: ‘If you’re in a band and they don’t want to do your song because it doesn’t fit, this is the perfect platform. If you’ve ever wanted to do a burlesque number but you don’t want to join a troupe, if you want to do something weird or if you’ve had a dream you want to reenact or you just have some crazy idea, we’re the perfect place to come.’ Every show we have people that want to come up and join that can do these different things.”

Finding suitable bills and similar bands is not a concern for the group, whose own show is a patchwork of different styles and ideas. Sidecar Symposium’s upcoming set for Saturday’s Knox Roots event will find an ideal setting, given the variety of musical acts, poetry, cuisine and visual arts.

“There is a lot happening here,” says Glock of the upcoming festivities. “You’ve got a DJ, hip-hop, a banjo player, Carpetbag Theatre; you’ve got all these people involved, getting together to try to help a community space. ”

Sidecar Symposium will perform Saturday at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center (1927 Dandridge Ave.) for Knox Roots. Other acts on the bill include Black Atticus and DJ Supernatural, Sean McCullough, The Carpetbag Theatre, Oba and Terry Preston of the Eastwind Band. The show welcomes all ages and offers free food, poetry, storytelling and a photo gallery. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the show to follow at 7. Admission is a $5 donation (no charge for kids 12 and under). Proceeds benefit the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.

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