By Joe Wright
Within the narrow streets of Downtown Wilmington lies a thriving art community which passionately supports the local music scene. Local talent engages on an entertainment battleground in order to enliven patron audiences as well as establish their name amongst a fan-base. We had the opportunity to interview one such band; a band that has combined diverse musical influences into a fusion of rock/funk and rhythm/soul to create a very early following for themselves. Originally forming as a group of friends who wanted to start a collective music project that was “open play,” making it much easier for this diverse group of friends to always have someone to play music with. Consensus formed that the group would base around a Sci-Fi style project which would provide a new and flavorful type of entertainment to friends and potentially make a little cash in their free time. After a short time and a lot of practice, a once casual “jam sesh” has now turned into a successful group of up-and-coming local performers known as Dubtown Cosmonauts.
Q. How did you first get started in the local scene?
A. “In town we frequently played small gigs at local venues, took a few videos and posted them online. We sent some of our videos to other venues in NC and started a circuit of venues to tour through. We’ve played at Greenfield Lake Amphitheatre and Brooklyn Arts Center here but we also travel out to a few spots like Gaffer’s Pub in Ocracoke, Deep South in Raleigh, Peasant’s Pub in Greenville, Hannah’s Haus in Beaufort, Bear Town Market in New Bern… just anywhere music can take us.”
Most areas of music maintain a highly competitive environment, making differentiation and originality tantamount to success. The band takes an approach to this task by actively avoiding traditional models of style and instead combining elements of many styles. The group states that they “strive to build dynamic lineups which range from jazz to funk to a Phish tribute set”; think Allman Brothers meets James Brown. Members say this approach keeps their music fresh and fun, emanating a feel-good vibe which will get the audience members dancing. When asked if they would consider themselves a “jam band”, one member replied “I don’t think we label ourselves as a jam band, though we did play ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed’ for 42 minutes once” he said with a grin that clearly conveyed his amusement of the idea.
Q. What is your favorite memory of a past show/performance?
A. “We performed a show earlier this year which we split into a set of Grateful Dead songs and a set of Phish covers. The interesting thing was we decided to just take requests from the event page on Facebook which comprised the entire show. There were songs we were literally learning a day or two before getting on stage and it really allowed us to directly appeal to our audience.”
The group touts a wide variety of musical instrumentation with lead guitarists Tom Shaw and Nick Gliarmis performing contrasting yet complimenting fingerstyles. Members also include drummer Justin Heter, bassist Alex Voutsinas, saxophonist Todd Wade, and guest vocalists Judah Moore and Matt Blinson. Formed in 2009, the group contains a myriad of musical styles and backgrounds which emerges in their performance. Many group members having 10-20 years musical experience, and demonstrate great prowess with their instrument of choice (such as Nick’s Gibson Les Paul Studio or Tom’s Schecter C-1 Elite with locally manufactured Mojotone pickups).
Q. What drives you to spend so much of your free time practicing/performing music?
A. “Seeing everyone having a good time and coming together over music is so enriching, playing music feeds my soul.” – “I enjoy traveling and meeting new people, just putting music out into the world and being a true entertainer.”
While collectively identifying as entertainers the group still maintain their day jobs ranging from marketing promotion to computer technician. Music however, is not so much work as it is a career of passion for this group. Plans for studio work are underway upon adding new vocalists which will evolve their style and sound allowing for what the group says is more “soul” to the mix. These Cosmonauts seem to undertake an organic development process strongly influenced by their love of performance as well as the direct interests of their fans. When stating “I’ll always be a student in the School of Rock”, Nick Gliarmis demonstrates that these musicians truly live the life of a true entertainer.
For contact and booking information, contact the band @ facebook.com/dubtowncosmonauts