"We all just wanna be big rock stars."
Herald photographer Joe Bellacomo and I got into a spirited debate this weekend. Joe knows his music, and he took exception to my proclamation that -- based solely on vocal talent (and, of course, my own personal opinion) -- singer/songwriter Abi Permenter has a better voice even than Leesburg "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips.
Joe spelled out, in detail, the various qualities that he believes make Phillips the better singer/entertainer. I didn't let the conversation get too heated because Joe is Italian, after all, and I'm not sure exactly how deep his connections go. Plus, I love Phillip, too, and I meant him no disrespect and neither was Joe dissing AMP.
I just happen to think Permenter has a stronger voice.
One thing Joe and I did agree on after checking out their performance Saturday at the downtown FlintFest celebration, is that Albany's Unbreakable Bloodline is the most dynamic band to come out of this region since the days of Monroe Brown.
I've got a sneaking suspicion Permenter and UBL, both of whom are playing at this weekend's Georgia Throwdown, will join Phillips, country stars Luke Bryan -- shout-out on two more awards noms -- Dallas Davidson and Stokes Nielson, and Albany's Rays -- Charles and Stevens -- among the significant artists from this region to command the national spotlight.
If you were putting together a new band looking to make a name for itself in a place like Albany and Southwest Georgia, you'd laugh the second you saw UBL's game plan. Let's see ... take two guys from one alternative-leaning rock band (Dusty Ashberry and Chad Basko from Holly Drive), add a bass player from a harder-core rock band (Ryan Meyers from Echo Valve), put the trio with two MCs from a hard-core rap group (Vernon "Chief Havoc" Cruz and Jay "O-Z" Osborne from the original Unbreakable Bloodline) and add a sweet-singing, rapid-fire rhyme spitter (Tiffany "O'she Tyght" Thomas) and you've got the makings of ... a mess.
Oh, and to make things potentially more screwy, consider that the three musicians are white dudes, the two male MCs are an African-American and a dude from Guam and the third MC with the rapid-fire delivery is a black chick.
But UBL pull it off.
Just ask the music fans who made their way down to the stage area from all points in Riverfront Park to hear UBL Saturday. The energy level was frenetic, and all manner of random dancing that would have fit nicely on an "iCarly" episode (there is a 10-year-old in the house), head-bobbing, pogoing and enthusiastic applause ensued.
It was as good a live performance as I've seen in a while, and folks who know me know I'm only a couple of weeks removed from attending Music Midtown in Atlanta. I risk charges of blasphemy from my musical knowledge superior Andy Gaydos (who also was at MM) by saying -- and, please don't judge me here, I was catching the performance while under the influence of severe sleep deprivation -- that on this day I'd put UBL's show only slightly below Pearl Jam's, Foo Fighters' and Garbage's in Atlanta.
Permenter had the misfortune of opening the day's musical performances at FlintFest, and while the intense heat of the sunny late-summer day kept most people from collecting at the stage area during her set, it did not diminish the reaction to her powerful voice. Her take on Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" is a match for Annie Lennox's original, and her own compositions "White Noise" and "Tiny Boobs" (yes, that's the name of the song, and while it's not what you think -- it's actually a cleverly written message song -- it got more than a few chuckles and a comment of "Oh, she wrote a song about me" from one lady who will remain nameless) were among crowd favorites.
So while you're out at this weekend's Throwdown, by all means catch Permenter (she's on the bill as AMP -- her initials -- Up the Music) and Unbreakable Bloodline. And make sure you're around when UBL does "Irish Frank," one of my favorite songs of the year.
Just don't say you'll take either over a certain "American Idol" star in the presence of some guy taking pictures. There's no telling who he might have with him.
Email Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.