ONE Of A Kind

The concept of a one-man band is nothing new. It has been a main stay of carnivals, circuses, and other unsophisticated gatherings for centuries. The style has been limited to playing basic parts on multiple instruments simultaneously. In the 1800’s, mechanical helpers were incorporated to make motion more efficient. In the 1980s, a wide array of instrument sounds became available on multi-pad percussion surfaces played by one musician, and at the turn of the century, looping parts by playing them one at a time live became popular, but the sound and feel of a full band had yet to be achieved.

The invention of HD and non-linear editing of video (NLE) has spawned a new generation of one-man band, however.

A multi-instrument musician, singer, and video producer (ONE) has put together a show using all of the above. In his studio, playing each instrument in front of a green-screen, ONE shoots videos of himself while singing the appropriate player’s backup vocal. The instrument is played directly into a pro-tools recording system while the video is being shot. These clips are then composited on a video wall over photo and video backdrops to do the job of the backup band for ONE. The songs are performed at the same tempo, and the same key used by the original performer.

Sometimes the band that originally recorded the song has three players, and other times four. The players on the video wall pop in and out as the song dictates, so the song sounds as much like the original recording as possible. ONE sings the lead vocal and plays the lead guitars in front of the backup band when performing live on stage.

The repertoire is classic rock, and there are up to 45 songs in a ONE show. The collection ranges from ‘60s to ‘90s rock, with a concentration in the ‘70s. The instruments include guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and even a little harmonica. While a couple of ballads are included, the majority of the show is upbeat, dance rock with which most Americans over 40 are familiar.

A unique part of this show is the live component. The guitar played by ONE on stage is connected to several sound enhancing units, allowing multiple instrument sounds to played at one time. For instance, the original recording may have two keyboard parts in a section where there is an acoustic guitar. The keyboard player can cover one of the keyboard parts, and ONE can cover the other while playing an acoustic guitar part. While the music is the primary product delivered in this show, ONE’s penchant to test the audience’s recognition of famous lead licks, and his wry sense of humor, are crowd pleasers as well.

While the one-man band may not be new, ONE’s take on the concept is leading-edge entertainment, combining the 20th and 21st centuries in ONE entertaining show.


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