Guest article by Lauren Lyman
On June 13, 2015, the first VoyagerFest commenced in the cozy West Austin backyard of The Rusty Mule. A good number of the bands that performed were based in progressive rock and its many subgenres, but the festival also showcased avant garde, electronic (intelligent dance music), and other acts with experimental and innovative properties.
Beginning on Jan. 24, 2016, VoyagerFest launched a concert series called Voyager Nights, a place for bands from the previous year’s festival to continue performing and spreading awareness for the second annual event. Last month, VoyagerFest was approved as a 501(c) (3) organization, having officially established the mission to promote and support experimental music and art.
If you want to take part in the non-profit’s mission, the second Voyager Night is scheduled for April 16 at The North Door. Jazz rock fusion group, Circling Drones, and video game prog metal band, Descendants of Erdrick, will perform. In addition to the live musical performances, the documentary of the 2015 festival will air, to educate the audience about progressive music culture (trailer).
Haven for Artists Pushing Boundaries
While Austin is a town of many genres, VoyagerFest seems to offer a haven for artists who push the boundary even more. This could mean a robot drummer, a theremin player, wonky electronic beats, a symphonic prog ensemble that might as well represent a rock orchestra, punk-driven prog or instrumental trios. The festival and concert events are definitely variety shows.
Descendants of Erdrick, performing April 16, is composed of guitarist/vocalist/front-woman Amanda Lepre, synth-pop keyboardist Emily Thompson and a progressive metal/jazz-influenced rhythm section featuring bassist Thad Stevens and drummer Jim Watson. Lepre is a beast on her instruments, and her bandmates complement each other as they weave through symphonic melodies and the complex changes of video game soundtracks. From their facial expressions alone, you’ll know they truly enjoy playing their music.
Circling Drones, the other performing band at the upcoming Voyager Nights, plays original songs inspired by artists such as Jeff Beck, Freddie Hubbard and Eddie Harris. A lot of their music features improvisation drawing from years of musical experience as well as jazz education at The University of North Texas (lead saxophonist, Matt Moore). With each note comes a vibrant energy that is euphoric and satisfying to the jazz-oriented listener, as well as those looking for mental stimulation. The winding melodies and jazz guitar glitz will blow the audience away, so there is much to be heard and seen during this night of progressive and evolving sounds.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite experimental music group or artist in Austin?
Lauren Lyman is a public relations volunteer for VoyagerFest. She is also a freelance writer, flutist, and singer. She is a graduate of Texas State University, where she attained a Master of Music in music history. She wrote her master’s thesis on the sisters of Heart, as well as Fiona Apple, Madonna and Janis Joplin.