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You’re forgiven for not knowing anything about The Six Parts Seven.

I didn’t, and that’s not because I don’t explicitly dig the sort of noise they make. It’s just that when the only truly alternative radio station in town (www.scadradio.org) doesn’t actually travel far over the public airwaves, my listening time is limited to when I’m near a broadband connection.

Consequently, I don’t get to keep myself as abreast of all the nifty underground bands that are bubbling up from the American asphalt as I’d like to.

And that’s a shame. Because right now, all across the country there are more vibrant and unique bands doing their own thing than perhaps ever before in the history of the so-called “alternative music” business.

But the fact remains, it’s almost impossible for the average person to learn anything at all about the type of music this Kent, Ohio, post-rock group makes from mainstream media outlets.

The combo – which, it must be said, is fantastic at what they do – inherently operates in a realm of limited opportunities. They straddle the borderlines of at least a handful of different fringe genres, from Americana to the avant-garde, from mood music to roots music, and from organic psychedelia to driving guitar-based indie rock.

Band spokesman Allen Karpinski, who handles guitar and sampling duties in the group says that with that harsh reality in mind, everyone in The Six Parts Seven are more than happy to take any sort of press they can get.

“Really, we’ll settle for anything at all that points people in our direction. Even if someone says we’re the worst band they’ve ever heard. I know some people might show up to hear what that would sound like.”

And in 2004, that’s the name of the game – drawing people out to see your struggling band, no matter what the pretext. Luckily, Karpinski and his compadres aren’t waiting around for fame and fortune of the kind most people imagine is the ultimate goal of any touring musician.

“It’s very enjoyable to write and play the stuff we do,” he offers over a cell phone from just outside Chicago.

So, just what is it they do?

Well, The Six Parts Seven play a completely instrumental form of dreamy soundscapes that rely almost entirely on traditional instruments – things like a trap set, electric guitars, and perhaps

their hallmark, the sorrowful moan of Ben Vaughan's perfectly executed lap steel. It all adds up to a type of pastoral roots music that sounds like it drifted out of some dreamy radio in a dusty town near the Iron range, in some unspecified time period (at least one after the invention of amplified instrumentation).

The group has never utilized vocals, and Karpinski says they have no intention of doing so. When I ask him whether that was a conscious artistic decision, or if there simply isn’t a decent singer in the bunch, he chuckles.

“For us, I think it’s both of those things. (Laughs) For me, listening to say, a singer/songwriter, the vocals are often the focus, and the lyrics also. If they’re not up to par with the music, or if there’s even one weak lyric in a song, it can blow the whole thing for me.”

He notes that vocals take up an awful lot of space in the mix. Maybe too much.

“A lot of the music I listen to has vocals, but when I was a kid, the parts of the songs I liked best were the parts where nobody was singing, like the guitar intros and things like that.”

However, while the band is enjoying all sorts of accolades from music geeks and magazine writers far and wide, don’t be deceived into thinking they’ve been able to parlay it into a full-time career.

“Oh, no,” the guitarist says.

“We go out there for a while and lose our jobs and then come home and start searching for a new job again. (Laughs) It floats at this point. We keep our van in good shape and pay for our meals, but we definitely don’t come home with more money in our pocket than when we left.”

And yet, Karpinski says the band has no intention of quitting. instead, they hope to regain “their childlike wonder” for road life by venturing into new markets, such as Japan or Europe.

Till, then, they’re on the road and headed South to a region that so far has been kind to them.

“We go over very well down here. We’ve never played Savannah before, but I’ve visited there by myself. It’s a beautiful city, and it’s one of the stops on this tour that I’m looking forward to the most.”



NOTE: THISSHOW IS FREE ANDOPENTOALLAGES. Wed., November 10th, 8:30 pm, SCAD’s Oglethorpe House Ballroom (201 W. Oglethorpe Ave.).

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Jim Reed

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