Monday, January 9, 2012

Polychrome, July 2011, The SoundCheck

The Soundcheck by j. Gabrielle

“Polychrome” is the 2010 Roanoke Times Music Poll’s Favorite Band.
They may also be Roanoke’s hardest working band.
www.polychromlive.com

I first saw the lean, mean, power rock three-piece band at Roanoke’s Festival in the Park in 2010 on the Amphitheater Stage.  Their catchy original songs piqued my interest.  In a word, they were “smokin’, and that’s why after a long, hot, sweaty day in Elmwood Park, “Mac Daddy” and I happily accepted the band’s invitation to their show at Brambleton Deli later that night.

We’ve been fans ever since and have followed them from venue to venue, watching their fanbase grow with “chromeheads”.

“Polychrome”, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is “painted, printed, or decorated in several colors”.  I asked lead guitarist and vocalist Sean Bera what made him choose that name. Bera says, “The music I write is all over the place, and my influences are as scattered as George Gershwin to Great White, Van Morrison to Van Halen, Stanley Jordan to Santana.  Also, the band performs cover music to stay busy, and the song selections are truly of various colors!”

Indeed, the latter statement rings true.  From their sound-check of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “The Green Acres Theme”, to the set list of Sister Hazel’s “All for You”; Bruno Mars’, “The Lazy Song”; The Beatles’, “I Saw Her Standing There”; to The Eagles’, “Take It Easy”, the band morphs easily from one style to the next.

Drummer Mark Lynch joined the band a year ago.  I learned recently that Mark is a Marine and played in the Drum and Bugle Corp Band.  Lynch’s distinctive snare work “colors” the songs.  In a cover of Sting’s “Message in a Bottle”, his cymbal work is just beautiful….understated…and tasty.  In Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”, he uses a special snare, with holes in the side that gives the song that needed reggae feel.  Mark’s subtleties are intrinsic to Sean’s writing.  Sean again:

“Mark has completely changed the way I approach songwriting.  ….his rhythmic influence has me creating melodic lines that feed off his reggae/rock-fusion style.  It has both challenged me to get out of my pop/rock comfort zone as well as re-energize me to create songs with a story.”

Perry Mabry is the bass player and back-up vocalist who is so much fun to watch!  He’s just jammin’, keeping a subtle bass line…..not too busy!  He’s got this incredible smile on his face and with that long hair, resembles a California surfer dude! 

At a recent downtown Roanoke outdoor event, the band was in its element on a large stage.  When Sean goes into one of his raps and inevitably ceases playing the guitar and stretches his arms akimbo, riding the reliable groove laid down by his bandmates, he resembles a Rock-n-Roll Messiah.  The fan at the front of the stage, playing air drums, clearly was a willing disciple!

A wordsmith by trade, Sean loves to talk and has a biting sarcasm.  At Brambleton Deli, Boogie will sometimes tell him he talks too much!  At some venues, this works to his advantage.  At Awful Arthur’s in Salem, he asks the audience to write down songs on slips of paper and bring them to him.  Sean laughingly points out “it’s often a bunch of stuff I would never play, so, I either will sing a bit of a cappella or play a riff on the guitar…..It often leads to them writing down 10-15 songs just to see what we are able to perform!”

Most of all, the band is proud of their 14 song original CD, “All County Champs”.  One song, “Oleander”, is getting airplay on 96.3 WROV.  I have to urge you to check this out!  What a great song!  It is only your introduction to “Polychrome”!  Sean wrote it in tandem with the bestseller book, White Oleander

The band hopes to keep spreading an exciting groove and a most excellent vibe of goodness, happiness, and love.  Yes.  Really. 

So, you have an invitation; will you come to the party?

Polychrome is:  Sean Bera, Guitar, Vocals
                             Perry Mabry, Bass, Vocals
                               Mark Lynch, Drums

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