Shilpa Ray Returns To Athens This Weekend

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Brooklyn's Shilpa Ray brings her unique blend of blues and punk to The Union this Saturday, along with fellow New Yorkers She Keeps Bees as the opening act.

If Ray's past Union shows are any indication, this should be a night to remember.

Indeed, the event's Facebook page reads: "Shilpa Ray is a wailing, fire-breathing cyclops. She tornadoes everything in her path: small towns, big cities and children's dreams."

If that doesn't inspire local music fans to come uptown, not much else will.

Ray and her group, sometimes referred to as Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, are relatively new to the music scene, having released their debut A Fish Hook An Open Eye in 2009, followed by Teenage and Torture in 2011 and It's All Self Fellatio, Shilpa Ray in 2013.

Ray's music was quickly embraced by the indie rock community, attracting die-hard fans and praise from notable artists like Nick Cave, with whom she recently toured.

Ray's unique vocal style ("a honey-toned wail," wrote The New York Times) has been compared to that of Janis Joplin and Patti Smith. As a performer, she stands out as a powerful woman with the lyricism to match.

"I don’t strictly write for women, and I don’t think that art should be measured by gender," she told WOUB. "But I like to think that women write their own adventures."

Ray's music is a mixture of atypical indie rock, blues and traditional Indian music. The harmonium, an Indian pump organ resembling the accordion, is played along with guitar, bass and drums, creating a sound most easily described as burlesque pirate music. This hybrid genre has helped Ray and her group stand apart from today's indie rock scene.

Then there's the live show, which the New York Times has described as "primal." When asked to describe herself as a performer, Ray laughed and shared an analogy.

"Jerry Garcia once said in an interview that recording an album was like building a ship, and performing live is like riding a raft in the middle of the ocean. You’re just asked to paint the canvas at the moment and ask others to help color it in with you."

For those of you seeking out underground music in Athens, or if you just want to see what burlesque pirate music sounds like, a trip to The Union on Saturday night is recommended. The canvas is blank and it's awaiting everyone’s paint brush.

Doors open at 9 p.m. this Saturday. For more information, visit Shilpa Ray's Facebook page or follow Ray and her band on Twitter.