Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Ultraviolet Hippopotamus Redefines...
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Ultraviolet Hippopotamus Redefines Jam Bands

Kristi Kates - April 28th, 2014  

Every single night of performance, a different member of Ann Arbor’s Ultraviolet Hippopotamus is required to write the band’s set list.

In fact, that person can’t repeat any songs from the last performance, or even any songs from the last time the band played in the area.

“This forces us to think of our sets and how they flow as another form of composition,” said guitarist Russell Olmsted.

UNUSUAL UV

Ultraviolet Hippo bills itself as “Michigan’s premiere improvisational progressive rock band.”

But UV Hippo, as they’re affectionately nicknamed by their fans, isn’t the typical jam band, even if they share some of the same musical influences.

Formed back in 2006 by singer/bass player Brian Samuels, UV Hippo has shifted its lineup over the years.

Each bandmate has a unique musical background and influences that range from the unexpected (Beethoven, Chick Corea) to jam-band standards like Phish, P-Funk, and Umphrey’s McGee.

“The beauty of music is that it has a limitless potential, no boundaries, and countless forms of expression,” Olmsted said. “So we try and choose not to stay in one style or genre for too long.”

COOL CHOICES

Several albums in to their career, UV Hippo is doing their best to keep things a little off-balance, to keep their sound new and their fans guessing.

“In 2012, we released the concept EP ‘The Broomhilda Suite,’ about a witch who kidnaps a prince. Yes, we are nerds and have played a lot of videogames,” Olmsted laughed. “And then in October of last year, we released ‘Translate,’ another full-length, 10-song album.”

Both of these albums have won numerous awards around Michigan.

“We always want to push ourselves in new directions,” Olmsted said. “Music at its essence is expression of an idea, a feeling. When we write, record, or perform, we always try and keep that in mind. We try and ask ourselves, ‘What is the point of that musical progression? It may be cool, but does it need to be there?’”

CRAZY SEASON

Olmsted and his bandmates aren’t biting the hand that feeds them, though, and in fact are fans of jam bands themselves. But they personally want to have a purpose behind their own music.

“Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “there are plenty of songs that are just jams and allow us a free form of expression. But there are also a lot of pieces that have outlines. I can’t say we always achieve ‘purpose,’ but that is our goal.”

Another goal for Ultraviolet Hippopotamus is to keep sane during the busy summer festival season, because that’s when their particular brand of energetic, foot-moving tunes is in even higher demand.

“Festival season is always crazy,” Olmsted said. “Touring becomes much harder trying to get from one festival to the next. And then there is staying at the festivals with all those fans! It’s great though.”

Illinois’ Summer Camp festival, Colorado’s Groove Fest, and Ohio’s The Werkout are a few of the larger ones at which UV Hippo will be performing.

First, they’ll stop in Traverse City, where Olmsted says there will be plenty of audio surprises.

“Oh, we have a few tricks up our sleeves,” he said.

Ultraviolet Hippopotamus is performing at the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City on May 2 and 3. For tickets and more, visit insideoutarttc.com; for more on the band, visit uvhippomusic.com.

 
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