The Concept Album Trilogy

Although I had previously conducted experiments with thematics, attempting to compose a fully connected conceptual piece was daunting. In the early portion of the '10s, I had begun revisiting albums by The Kinks, The Who, and Yes, and I quickly learned that listening was the easy part. I was unaware that I would even make such attempts until a gig promoter asked me to fill in a 75-minute slot on a Saturday night. As a result, I set out to compose all-new songs for the performance.


I emerged with the material for Defiance Science. Some, such as 'Blessing of the Guru' and 'Roll it One More Time,' found their way onto other albums; many were transformed beyond their original incarnations. 'Science' had previously been titled 'Overture,''Shangri-Rock' was a tune about composer Salieri, and 'Party Like a Star' was initially 'California Courtship.' The story itself was centered around the love affair between actors Primrose Luckett and Genovia, a woman who would eventually vanish into thin air while rebelling against the Hollywood establishment. After her departure, Primrose suffers a nervous breakdown that leaves him despondent on the proverbial Avenue Zero (located somewhere near Modesto, CA.)


Those characters championed freedom from structure, but Subversive Blues was an all-out assault on American culture and institutions. Abrasive sounds characterized the violent society in which a heightened version of Marcus Singletary lived - dominated by urban slaves battling amongst themselves over scraps. Similar to Defiance Science, anger and pain are on display, as the album's peak depicts raw, visceral violence. It concludes with a mellow soundscape, 'The Hero Returns Home,' that fuses ambient tones with a blues-based bass guitar.


Trilogy epilogue, The South Africa Tapes, does not unite Marcus and Primrose in Africa, but at radio station KFUC in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where station GM Primrose hosts the public affairs program Fact Files. Parallel stories are presented: KFUC's 100th anniversary, alongside the tale of South African apartheid. Primrose guides listeners through a series of archival broadcasts that capture station highlights including era-specific ads and features. I portrayed 20 different characters; one is cantankerous Southern belle (and DJ) Bonnie Wright. 


Hundreds of hours of research went into the research, and ultimately, the two characters meet up for an interview where both men team to comment on post-Apartheid human interest stories. The South Africa Tapes explores if the people, on both sides learned anything from the experience. Answers are revealed within the interview, but ultimately, all three installments show that while unfortunate circumstances in life do occur, a positive attitude is the first step toward resolution.