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Sunday November 23rd 2014

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Original and Amped


By Kate Peterson

It’s just the thing to fill the gap between your action packed weekends: WSRE is about to kick off its fourth season of StudioAmped. The eight-concert series features an eclectic mix of bands, all performing original material. The concerts are held in the 500-seat Jean & Paul Ramos Performance Studio on the campus of Pensacola State College and are free and open to the public.

IN had a chance to talk to concert producer, Bill Harrell, about the history of the event, the changes made this year and what we have to look forward to with season four.

IN: How many years have you been involved with StudioAmped?

Harrell: I started in the second year, so this is my third year of producing the shows. I have been with WSRE for six years as the development of community engagement and development.

IN: How did it start?

Harrell: It was a vision of the station manager. We needed to create a music series, and original music is something many people really appreciate. The concept, as it is today, remains the same as when it started. WSRE is missing a lot of funding this year, so anything that creates programming is a good thing.

IN: Who picks the artists?

Harrell: That is a tough thing to do—there is so much talent in the area. The first qualifying factor is if the bands have seventy-five minutes of good, original music. Those that do have that amount of original music go on to round two. Then I go out and listen to them play live in clubs. Here I am, a man of a certain age, standing in the corner of The Handlebar listening to music late into the night. It is research after all.

IN: Where are the concerts held? And, can we see it live, or is it only on TV?

Harrell: The concerts are held in the Jean and Paul Amos Performance Studio on the campus of Pensacola State College. It is a beautiful 500-seat studio and theater. All of the performances are free and open to the public. We shoot the performances with six cameras for the highest quality recording.

IN: So, this is like a version of Austin City Limits, Pensacola style?

Harrell: We tried to get the same feel as Austin City Limits for our events.

IN: What is different about this year?

Harrell: Well, for season two and three, we featured free soda and pizza and the concerts were spread out over eight Fridays for a couple months. It was so hard to set up and tear down the sets. Time is money for the station, so we changed the format. This season, we are featuring a concert a night over eight nights and two weeks starting Thursday, Feb. 27. With this scheduling format, the bands don’t have to give up money-making gigs. Often the bands choose to release new CDs on their scheduled night.

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The concert series will offer a variety of musical genres including pop, rock, reggae, indie, country and more. Bands scheduled to appear are:

Feb. 27 – Big Picture - Pensacola-based band Big Picture includes members Todd McCabe, Chaz Pare and Scott Riggs, with a 1980s pop/rock sound.

Feb. 28 – Elyse Therose – Indie rock band Elyse Therose began in Niceville, with vocalist Erin Elyse Jeffreys. Elyse Therose won the 2011 University of West Florida’s Battle of the Bands and has opened for the Gin Blossoms, Drivin’ N Cryin’, and Brooke Fraser.

Feb. 29 – Roman Street - From the Mobile area, Roman Street describes their music as Latin jazz and their group as an “acoustic jam band with a Latin flair.” Their trio—classical guitar, acoustic guitar and congas—plays music that is simultaneously relaxing and breathtaking.

March 1 – Brooke Woods – Since her stage debut at 2-years-old, country singer Brooke Woods has been winning over audiences. While singing and playing fiddle with the Sawmill Band at The Farmer’s Opry in Pace for years, Brooke performed with country legends such as Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, Ronnie McDowell, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rodney Atkins and many more. Now a solo artist, Brooke and her band perform across the southeast.

March 5 – Tribe Zion – Tribe Zion delivers a mix of reggae/hip hop/ska/punk/rock. Based in Pensacola, Tribe Zion tours throughout the Southeast. Formed in Colorado in 2005, the band opened for national acts such as Junior Toots, The Itals and Mystic Roots while living in the Denver area.

March 6 – Dannica Lowery – With nothing but her crystal clear voice and acoustic guitar, Santa Rosa Beach performer Dannica Lowery tells the stories of her life.

March 7 – The Icarus Effect – Alternative/hard rock band The Icarus Effect, from Pensacola, has performed at DeLuna Fest and Vinyl Music Hall. The band includes vocalist Scotty Houseknecht, guitarist Ralph Haynes, guitarist/tablist Mike Bersabal, bassist Cory Dull and drummer Ray Ruddy.

March 8 – Forrest Williams Band – Destin’s Forrest Williams Band plays a range of music from country to soul to rock and roll.

All concerts are taped in high-definition by WSRE’s award-winning production team. Beginning Thursday, April 12, WSRE will televise each concert on Thursdays from 9 to10 p.m., with a repeat on the following Wednesday from 10 to 11 p.m.

WHEN: 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) Thursday, Feb. 27
WHERE: Pensacola State College, 1000 College Blvd.
COST: Free
DETAILS: wsre.org/studioamped