I made my way to Miller’s (a restaurant on the Downtown Mall) on a Saturday night to hear some live music. According to my waitress, Miller’s have live performances every night. On this particular night the Fustics (pronounced few-tics) were performing. I actually got a chance to speak with Ronn (the drummer) to get some quick facts about the group. The Fustics is an Americana band from Wilmington, North Carolina. It consists of four musicians: Ronn on drums, Brad on vocals and acoustic guitar, Paul “The Professor” on bass, and Calloway on lead guitar. The band consists of three White males and one Prussian male. Ronn stated that the band was constantly changing and went through four bass players, 3 guitarists, and a keyboard player that recently quit. This present group of four is the most solid line-up the band has ever had.
When I first heard the music I could not define the genre. I heard a mixture of jazz, rock, and blues, but did not know what to call it. After talking to Ronn, he told me that they fall under the genre known as Americana and that their music tends to be a mixture of country blues, folk, jazz, and funk. The music had a collaborative, yet distinctive sound. The music was very upbeat and the beat of the drums was usually dragged out at the end of a few songs. The tapping of the cymbals emphasized the sound of the drums. Some of the songs also feature guitar solos where you really got to hear the power of the instrument. It was at this time that the music reminded me of rock. And there were times when a guitar was played to convey the “folk” aspect of the music. Although the genre was new to me, one song I did recognize was “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” which was originally sung by the Rolling Stones. What is weird is that the lyrics, more so than the music allowed me to identify with the song. The music was a little different than the original because they added their special touch.
The band did not seem to have much interaction with the audience. I believe this was due to the confined area in which they were performing. The stage area was very small and was only big enough for their equipment; they could hardly move around. However, the band did give a birthday tribute to a woman in the audience. Also, during intermission, Ronn was very inviting when I asked him questions about the band; in fact he was glad to contribute to my concert report. So in all, the band had little interaction with the audience as a whole, but through conversation Ronn came across as was very laid back and funny guy.
One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the restaurant was the audience’s interaction to the music being performed. There were three women who stood near the stage area dancing freely to the music. Others either stood by the bar or were sitting down at tables enjoying the music. As far as the demographics of the audience, I would have to say the audience was predominantly White men and women and the ages ranged from 20’s to 40’s. Also, those living in the Charlottesville community (townies) and/or graduates students seem to make up the bulk of the audience. Everyone (including the band) was casually dressed for the most part except for a group that arrived later in suits and dresses as if they had just came from a special occasion. The audience was very courteous. At the end of each song the audience would applaud and others would even shout out a “WOOOOOO!” indicating the song was a hit.
Members of the audience were organized into cliques for the most part while others would mingle. The restaurant’s atmosphere set a clam/laid back tone. Therefore, the audience was not that intense or in close proximity as they would have been at a “big” concert. They clearly went to the restaurant to socialize while listening to some good music. People did converse with one another, but nothing more. The most interaction within the audience was the three women dancing among each other, who I might add had three different rhythms.
In all, this was a unique experience on the Downtown Mall and the music was not bad at all. This genre has broadened my horizon on music.