"50 Man Machine taps an indescribable vein of musical internationalism..." writes New York's Metroland.
Simply put, 50 Man Machine is an eclectic mix of reggae, celtic, folk, caribbean and alternative rock with pop sensibilities. There is a healthy dose of jazz, New Orleans funk, social consciousness and experimental electronica on top keeping the bodies moving and the minds happy. Members of the DC group have spent a number of years in the festival scene honing their craft on Celtic, folk and international music circuits including an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Jaron Lanier's Chromatophoria, The Smithsonian, and guesting on stage in concert with The Chieftains.
What began at The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Mass MOCA, in Building 1 as an iEAR MFA performance art and installation piece about education, identity, hope for the future and freedom, became a unique fusion ensemble. The groups eponymous album met with great success spending 3 months in the CMJ music charts. 50 Man Machine just completed “Live at Whitlow's on Wilson” and are set to begin recording an exciting new studio album in the ensuing months.
“The eponymous debut disc from 50 Man Machine offers one of the most diverse, if not perverse, instrumental attacks ever captured in a recording studio, as steel pans, turntables, bagpipes, double bass, experimental sound collages, mandolin, clarinets and even an udu or two slug it out for sonic space. In less able hands, such an eclectic mixture of textures could lead to an auditory train wreck-but under 50 Man mastermind L. Collier Hyams' able direction, the results are strikingly effective, never smacking of instrumental gimmickry or musical oddness for musical oddness' sake. Hyams' songs are, for the most part, strong and straightforward, and his guitar and vocal work underpin the whole project with a twang-flavored Americana feel, one that provides ample room for the army of other instruments and players to find, explore and exploit their own acoustic niches... All told, this is a challenging and rewarding record from artists who seem willing not only to color outside the lines, but to toss the whole damn coloring book out the window, drawing instead in burnt umbers and siennas and taupes and heliotropes and fuchsias on the walls of places normally decorated in simple primaries and pastels. Worth a peek, for sure.” METROLAND
The group's live shows are passion filled and highly interactive with the audience playing a key role. Singer/guitarist/bagpipe player Collier Hyams shares the stage with cellist/Trinidadian steel pan player Kristen B. Jones, saxophone/flute/vocalist Trevor Specht, bassist/vocalist Scott Ambush, and drummer/hip-hop producer Jon Laine. 50 Man Machine delivers a tight, visceral performance while leaving the space and freedom to explore new sonic avenues at each event.
Much of the groups foundation is built on Hyams' fertile upbringing as a foreign service dependent with living experiences in Thailand, Bavaria, Scotland, West Africa and other culturally rich parts of the world. This includes that uniquely strong musical influence and home to his French Creole roots, New Orleans, LA, where Hyams cut his teeth in funk, jazz, and truly caribbean reggae bands. After spending time on both sides of the US he formed 50 Man Machine in New York while touring with Jaron Lanier's Chromatophoria virtual reality and international music performances including collaborators Sussan Deyhim, Will Calhoun (Living Colour), Peter Scherer (Ambitious Lovers), film composer Richard Horowitz, Duncan Sheik, Sean Ono Lennon and others. Somewhere in the middle of that experience he asked rock bagpiper Neil Anderson (Seven Nations) to be a part of 50 Man Machine and after recording an album ended up touring in the celtic rock circuit for 6 years forming the group Rathkeltair, and putting 50 Man temporarily on hold. However, the 50 Man Machine music was continually performed with these ensembles resulting in approximately 10,000 CD sales of various titles from festival stages during that time.
Classically trained on cello, Kristen Jones (Pan Masters, IlyAIMY) discovered the steel pan at Oberlin College and has performed with steelbands in Trinidad, Brooklyn and the DC-metro area. Trevor Specht (Chopteeth, Junkyard Saints) has a BS in Jazz Performance and Composition and has also indulged his technical and academic interests as a graduate student in the Electronic/Computer Music Department of The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Scott Ambush made his name as the bassist for Spyro Gyro. His credentials are enormous. Drummers Paul Dudley and Jon Laine. Laine holds a Master's of Music degree at Howard University in Washington DC. Laine has performed with artists including Aretha Franklin, David Foster, Kenny G, Frederic Yonnet, Black Milk, El DeBarge, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, Common, Steve Coleman, Meshell Ndegeocello, Dwele, Louie Bellson, Charlie Byrd, Fred Wesley, Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath, Yusef Lateef and was the drummer for Omar's Sing (if you want it) national tour. Laine was the winner of Downbeat Magazine's Student Music award for Best Instrumental Soloist in 2004.
2012 Suntrust Rock and Roll Marathon DC; Mass MOCA,North Adams, MA; Springfield Days Fest; Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY; Valentine's, Albany, NY; Lionheart, Albany, NY; Justin's on Lark, Albany, NY; The Kitchen, New York City; Pauline Oliveros Dream Festival, Kingston, NY; Pioneer Pub, Natchitoches, LA; George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, VA; Del Ray Music Festival, Alexandria, VA; Whitlow's on Wilson, Arlington, VA; Potomac Celtic Festival, Leesburg, VA; Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle, Bethesda, MD; Music Junction, College Park, MD: Art on the Avenue Fest, Alexandria, VA; Burke Centre Parkway Festival, VA; Thistle and Harp Festival, Wheaton, MD; Springfield VA 15/5k Marathon
Venues with Hyams performing 50 Man Machine music solo or the songs with other ensembles:
(Broadcast performances) Live Radio Broadcast WNCW-FM 88.7, Spindale, NC; Live Radio Performance, WRPI, NY; Live TV Talkshow, New Orleans Live, LA; (Universities) Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, NY; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, iEAR, Troy, NY; Grambling State University, LA; Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA; University of Louisiana at Monroe, LA;
Festivals and Clubs: (LA)The Varsity, Baton Rouge; Jimmy's, New Orleans; Cafe Brazil, New Orleans; Cafe Istanbul, New Orleans; Enoch's Cafe, Shreveport; 630 Commerce St, Shreveport; Funomat, Ruston; (AL) Mobile Bay Festival; (IL) Chicago Caribbean Festival; (FL) Lynch's Irish Pub, Jacksonville Beach; Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games & Festival, Green Cove Springs; Southeast Florida Highland Games, Pembroke Pines; The New Harp & Thistle Pub, St. Pete Beach; Tallahassee Scottish Games, Tallahassee; Quincy Music Theatre, Tallahassee; Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin; Kitty O'Shea's Irish Pub, Orlando; Annual Central Florida Scottish Highland Games , Orlando; Jacksonville Highland Games; (GA) Meehan's Ale House, Alpharetta; Tunnel Hill Celtic and Heritage Festival; Savannah Highland Games , Richmond Hill; Finnegan's Wake, Savannah; Savannah Irish Festival; North Georgia Celtic Festival, Gainesville; (SC) 3 Rivers Music Festival,Columbia; Greenville Highland Games; Tartanfest, Columbia; Aiken Highland Games; Annual Scottish Country Fair, Sumter; Palmetto 'Pipes & Drums Annual Concert, West Columbia; Annual "Return to the Green" Irish Cultural Festival, Greenville; Sumter County Museum; Clover Celtic Festival; Dougal McGuire's Irish Pub, Greenville; (NC) Jack Of The Wood, Asheville; Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, Linville; Blue Ridge Celtic Festival, Blowing Rock; Fayetteville Dogwood Festival; Foothills Highland Games, Hendersonville; Tir Na Nog Irish Pub, Raleigh; Cary Irish Concert; RiRa, Chapel Hill; (VA) The Lincoln Theatre, Marion; Jammin Java, Vienna; Virginia Scottish Games, The Planes; George Mason Center for the Arts, Fairfax; The Lyceum, Old Town Alexandria; Williamsburg Highland Games; Virginia Highlands Festival , Abingdon; (WV) Scottish Festival and Celtic Gathering, Bridgeport; (PA) East of the Hebrides Mid-Winter Celtic Music Festival, Valley Forge; The Peppermint Ristorante & Music Club, Sunbury; Sunbury Scottish & Irish Festival; Shawnee Mountain Celtic Festival; Brittingham's Irish Pub , Lafayette Hill; Greater Philadelphia Mid-Summer Scottish & Irish Music Festival & Fair, King of Prussia; (OH) Highlands of Ohio Concert Series, Mansfield; Mickey Finn's Irish Pub, Toledo; Bellville Opera House; Byrne's Irish Pub, Columbus; (NY) Roulette, NYC; Kitty Hoyne's Irish Pub, Syracuse; Capital District Scottish Games, Altamonte; Irish 2000 Music & Arts Festival, Albany; Schenectady AOH Club; Great American Irish Festival, Utica; The Parting Glass, Saratoga Springs; (NJ) New Jersey Scottish Heritage Festival, PNC Arts Center, Holmdel; Wildwood's Irish Fesh, Street Annie's, North Wildwood; The Victorian, Cape May; (CT) The Half Door, Hartford; Annual “'Pipes in the Valley," Riverfront Plaza, Hartford; The Irish-American Home Society, Glastonbury; Vaughan's Public House, Hartford, The Main Pub, Manchester; Black Rock Castle, Bridgeport; St. Andrews Society of Connecticut Highland Games, Goshen; McKinnon's Irish Pub, Hartford; Scotland Highland Games; Wintonbury Hills Golf Club , Bloomfield; (MA) Melha Auditorium, Springfield; John Boyle O'Reilly Club, Springfield; Western Massachusetts Highland Games, Greenfield; O'Driscoll's Irish Pub, Wilbraham; (ME) Maine Highland Games, Brunswick; (TN) Sycamore Shoals Celtic Festival , Elizabethton; Music on the Square, Jonesborough.
L.Collier Hyams - Guitar, Lead Vocals, bagpipes, electronix
Kristen Jones - Cello, Steel Pans, Trinidadian steel drums
Trevor Specht - Vocals, Saxophones, flute
Jon Laine - Drums, Beatbox
(possible add) DJ Flip Uno - DJ, Turntables, electronics, Rapper
(possible add) Thistle Scottish Highland Dancers - Highland Dance and Bagpipes
Scott Hutchison - Video Projection, Live Painting
Scott Ambush - Bass
50 Man Machine:
Off d'Boards EP, Live at Whitlow's on Wilson (2011)
The 50 Man Machine (iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon etc)
For Lena (out of print)
Information For Investors (out of print)
Corporate Audio Product (out of print)
Band Crazy Vol.1: A Benefit Compilation for Multiple Sclerosis (song "Scream")
Hush Little Baby (Hambone)
In Each I Know
machine gun guards
Shattered And Confused
1 In Each I Know
50 MAN MACHINE CREATES NEW FORMS OF ‘WHIRLED’ MUSIC
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Calling forth existential reflections that roll swiftly across a cerulean sky, this debut album from...Calling forth existential reflections that roll swiftly across a cerulean sky, this debut album from 50 Man Machine is an auditory outing for the extreme musicologist, an acoustic picnic with the Cat in the Hat, only the cat’s wearing a broad skull cap crudely fashioned with aluminum foil. Don’t get me wrong. This is a highly intelligent assembly of original songs that are provocative, striking and even humorous. But to stuff this compilation into a single genre, even the all-inclusive generic “alternative” box, does it a grand disservice. I’d be willing to bet, however, that you won’t be hearing these wildly refreshing compositions on Top 40 radio any time soon — and thank Buddha for that. Not because these songs don’t deserve airplay. But this is not music for the average, station-surfing masses. This album is refreshingly rational and straightforward, questioning everything from capitalism and duplicity to the passive-aggressive dance between love and hate. The lyrics conduct this interrogation with intelligence, irony and wit. While expressing reality’s departure from idealism, the songs are a far cry from the predictable, angry rants we have grown accustomed to hearing from self-proclaimed “alternative” bands. Collier Hyams, founder of 50 Man Machine, weaves thoughtful and metaphorical allusions throughout his compositions, making even openly critical statements with poignancy and intellect. In the disc’s second track, Flagwavin’, Hyams mixes clever puns into his lyrics to lance home a brutal point about hypocrisy:
One third of analysis is ally. ?One half of analysis is anal. ?And you, you’re like a bunch of rats. ?You’re quiet when the cat comes.
But Hyams demonstrates that honesty also can alternate between the unruly and the poetic, as he expresses sad truths that can surface when love is severed in The Ant Hill, the fourth track on this disc:
I think about the towel, skin-so-soft, the ant hill, the moon so very,?very bright; dew on the grass, curved hips, so lovely. The dew on?the grass so right. I spent and spent, you always took. Spoiled you?are and spoiled the look of sheer want and need and need and?want and need. Of sheer want and need and need.
The Ant Hill is one of my favorite cuts off this disc, particularly because Hyams’ wonderful lyrics are delivered in an electronically distorted, rapid-fire narrative, mimicking the tachycardia of emotional loss. And the mandolin behind the voice provides delicious lightness and tumult to the piece. One of the most common questions folks ask musicians is “Who are your influences.” Clearly 50 Man Machine has a voice uniquely its own. But in listening to this album, each song flashed across my psyche essences of artists who reside in the atrophied cobwebs of my musical memory, including U-2, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Crowded House, even a little bit of Three Dog Night. Really. But then I date myself. And name-dropping comparisons hardly do justice to this wholly distinctive compilation. These tunes not only invoke for me a sort of mental time travel, they also take me around the globe on the wings of steel pan drums, Uillean bagpipes, clarinet and pennywhistle. I think of the Kremlin and hand-painted Russian nesting dolls, Dublin under gunmetal skies, the Andes Mountains misting under a full Peruvian moon, Manchester in the 1960s, a Caribbean beach at highest noon. I think of this music as “whirled” music in the keenest, multi-dimensional, eclectic sense. While listening to this release, between the subliminal and non-subliminal lyrics, a slightly modified pop phrase spontaneously raced across my brain — What Would Jethro Tull Do — given today’s historical perspective and mixing room technology? Throughout the music there is whispered subtext. Or, could it be . . . conscience? To be profound and worldly probably was not Hyams’ intent when he wrote these songs and assembled 50 Man Machine to record them. I imagine it came together much like a pick-up baseball game. Most likely the players simply wanted to play. For fun. For practice. For free beer. Whatever. The serendipitous result, however, is an inventive, engaging addition to the musical archives.
Top 10 Best Local Recordings (Album PreRelease version)
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You’ll never listen to world music the same way again once you hear what those Celtic, Caribbean and...You’ll never listen to world music the same way again once you hear what those Celtic, Caribbean and hi-tech instruments can sound like when they’re all played together.
Straight-ahead world music, without any gimmicks (Eponymous Debut Disc Review)
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The eponymous debut disc from 50 Man Machine offers one of the most diverse, if not perverse, instru...The eponymous debut disc from 50 Man Machine offers one of the most diverse, if not perverse, instrumental attacks ever captured in a recording studio, as steel pans, turntables, bagpipes, double bass, experimental sound collages, mandolin, clarinets and even an udu or two slug it out for sonic space. In less able hands, such an eclectic mixture of textures could lead to an auditory train wreck-but under 50 Man mastermind L. Collier Hyams' able direction, the results are strikingly effective, never smacking of instrumental gimmickry or musical oddness for musical oddness' sake. Hyams' songs are, for the most part, strong and straightforward, and his guitar and vocal work underpin the whole project with a twang-flavored Americana feel, one that provides ample room for the army of other instruments and players to find, explore and exploit their own acoustic niches. Tracks featuring Scott Smallwood's steel pans and Neil Anderson's pipes generally evoke the Caribbean or Celtic flavors of those instruments' homelands (although this is as much a function of pre-conditioned listening reflex as it is a function of the songs themselves), while the remainder of 50 Man Machine taps an indescribable vein of musical internationalism without the lowest common denominator reductiveness that renders so many so-called "world music" discs so completely disposable. All told, this is a challenging and rewarding record from artists who seem willing not only to color outside the lines, but to toss the whole damn coloring book out the window, drawing instead in burnt umbers and sienas and taupes and heliotropes and fuchsias on the walls of places normally decorated in simple primaries and pastels. Worth a peek, for sure.
The Group performs in an electric setup and a popular acoustic arrangement as scene in the "under the graffiti bridge" video https://vimeo.com/50manmachine
A typical 45-50 minute festival set of original music similar to the set used at a recent music festival.
1) bagpipe tunes – ambient section into march dance groove
2) wonder where you are - shuffle reggae
3) cleanspace - afropop highlife rock
4) flagwavin' - alternative flamenco rock w/ uilleann pipes
5) little games - americana
6) machine gun guards - americana / brazilian funk
7) in each I know - upbeat alternative dancehall reggae funk
8) nikole - alternative jazz
9) racewar - driving alternative reggae rock
There are three sets of original music and the possibility of 50 Man Machine's versions of cover songs by Bob Marley, The Police, The Clash, The English Beat, Sly and the Family Stone, Radiohead, Paolo Nutini, U2, Miles Davis, traditional Breton and Scottish Bagpipe tunes and others. Additionally, depending on the event, the group is often accompanied by The Thistle Highland Dancers at key points during the set. 50 Man is also very interested in live and interactive video work during the set where applicable.
PDF Rider50 Man Machine Stage Plot
There are no upcoming dates at this time.