Noteworthy: Captured! By Robots, Angela Easterling

Angela Easterling


There's this guy Jason Vance, see, and he's the lone human in a band of musical robots. As if that thought weren't cool enough, Vance (who's been re-christened JBOT) wears a full-face bondage mask onstage, because the robots don't like him much, and they've made him their slave. They humiliate him and make him do crazy stuff.

His bloody entrails are hanging out of his shirt.

Vance, a San Franciscan who played bass for the ska bands Skankin' Pickle and the Blue Meanies, built the pneumatic drummer and guitarist because he'd just grown tired of dealing with his imperfect human bandmates.
"If you're playing with a band, even if you're trying to play what you hear inside, you're still depending on all these people to put out your ideas," he told a reporter.

"I tried to play with people - I played in a bunch of bands for a long time - and when that was done, I was on this path of desperation. Now I know what to expect, which is good."

In the Captured! By Robots saga, the androids turned on JBOT and now make him do their bidding.

These robots actually play - they're triggered by a computer called the MF Board (the M stands for mother) and they back the bass-playing JBOT on hard and thrashy, trashy rock ‘n' roll songs.

Then there's the Ape Which Hath No Name, a stuffed simian that bangs a tambourine and attempts to say nice things about JBOT, even as the robots rag on him and make him sing things like "Don't Break My Balls" and "My Hell is Cold."

Putting it all together, Vance admits, was hit and miss - mostly miss. "I'd never built a robot before," he said, "and the first attempts were ridiculous.

"I have a feeling about how things work and then I build it, but there's no mathematical equations necessarily, it's all instinct. It's like experimental physics."

Sure, it's shtick, but it's really interesting shtick. Listen & learn: At 11 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7 at the Jinx, 127 W. Congress St. $10 advance, $12 day of show.



Nashville's overripe with young female singers who want to be the next Taylor Swift, or the next Gretchen Wilson. Thanks, but no thanks. Then you have singers like Angela Easterling, whose music doesn't kowtow to commerce - the songs on Black Top Road, her second CD, don't seem to have been written with big radio play in mind. Instead, they focus on her sparkling, honey-hewn voice, etched with traces of sorrow and hopefulness in equal measure. Produced the estimable Will Kimbrough, the CD is pure, mountain-air acoustic country music. Let's put it this way: Think Emmylou Harris, Alison Krause or even Gillian Welch. Very sweet stuff indeed. Easterling shares a bill with Savannah-born Darryl Wise - it's the Savannah Folk Music Society's monthly First Friday concert, and it is highly recommended. Listen & learn: At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6 at First Presbyterian Church, 520 Washington Ave. Recommended donation is $2.


Savannah's busiest rock ‘n' roll export is just finishing up its 33-city tour behind the truly excellent Everyone on Everynight album (and, if the past is any indication, the band will hit the road again for another few months of sweat-shop touring). Passafire's blend of rock, reggae and roots has been winning over new fans all over the country - if you've never seen the band's infectious and incendiary live show, what are you waiting for? This is the cream of Savannah's crop, and that's saying a lot. Listen & learn: At 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St. $10 advance, $12 day of show.



One listen to this Ann Arbor quintet and I was hooked. If we gotta go the label route, the music is like folk/rock with an Afro/reggae beat and various bits ‘n' pieces of world music styles tossed in. But the songs are infectious, like the best pop, or the way rock ‘n' roll was before it became pretentious. The band utilizes acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, violin, accordion, piano, bass and drums, and all kinds of eclectic percussion instruments from the far-flung, like tablas and djembes and congas. Lead singer Erin Zindle is a marvel, and I'm looking forward to catching their live show. From the Check This Out files: The always-touring Ragbirds travel from town to town in a diesel mini-bus that runs on waste vegetable oil - yep, the stuff KFC throws out after they've fried up yer drumsticks.
Listen & learn: At 10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9 at Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St.



About The Author

Bill DeYoung

Bill DeYoung was Connect's Arts & Entertainment Editor from May 2009 to August 2014.
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