Quiet Please: Jackie O’s Debuts New Concert Series

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"And now for something completely different" is an overused catchphrase, but Jackie O's Pub & Brewery might be justified in using it to describe an upcoming show.

Tuvan throat-singing ensemble Alash will perform an intimate concert in the West Union Street pub on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

While the show is a departure from the bar's regular rock and blues fare, it also marks the debut of Jackie O's Quiet Concert Series, which, according to a press release, seeks to "provide excellent entertainment at a reasonable hour in an environment that fosters the best possible music experience for performer and listener alike."

The Alash Ensemble hails from the tiny Republic of Tuva, located along the southern edge of Siberia with Mongolia to its south. The area is a vast grassland, with horses playing a large role in Tuvan culture.

Tuvan throat-singing is a style in which the vocalist produces two, three or even four distinct pitches simultaneously, creating a variety of textures and overtones.

This ancient form of singing developed among the nomadic herdsmen of Central Asia and was traditionally performed outdoors. It is only recently that it was brought into concert halls and other indoor venues. Athens area audiences were recently introduced to a similar style of music when AnDa Union performed at Stuart's Opera House in 2011.

While the Alash Ensemble keep their ancestors' throat-singing tradition alive, they are not averse to trying new things. The group uses both traditional Tuvan and modern western instruments and have collaborated with jazz/fusion musicians Bela Fleck and Victor Wooten.

WOUB caught up with Jackie O's Eric Leighton to discuss the show and the new concert series.

WOUB: How did this unique show come about?

Eric Leighton: I got a call from a fellow I worked with for the band Eclectica, which included Future Man, the drummer from the Flecktones and brother of Victor Wooten. He had just hung out with [the Alash Ensemble] after seeing them play, and after checking their tour schedule, looked to help them fill some off-days. He remembered the good times he had when he was in Athens at Jackie O's and thought that we would be a good fit for the band and their schedule. That got the ball rolling.

WOUB: Were you familiar with Alash, or this style of music?

EL: I have been mystified by throat-singing for some time, and seeing AnDa Union at Stuart's Opera House just blew my mind. As a musician, it left me teary-eyed and speechless. To be able to bring more of this music into Jackie O's seemed an impossible blessing and a fun thing to share with people.

WOUB: It will definitely be a change of pace for your regular clientele. What can people expect that night?

EL: One man can play a flute as well as produce two distinct vocal harmonies with himself, creating three-part harmony. Just one person! I recommend watching the movie Genghis Blues; it's about a blind American singer who goes to compete in the national Tuvan singing competition. The members of Alash have all won that competition in a variety of categories…and they are all excellent horsemen, to boot. To be in such close proximity to such powerful, beautiful and amazing music is going to be a real treat. Anyone who missed AnDa Union at Stuart's shouldn't pass up this opportunity.

WOUB: What can you tell me about Jackie O's new Quiet Concert Series?

EL: I have been dreaming of doing a Quiet Concert Series for years, and we have slowly been building the infrastructure to pull it off. I think there's an audience for small, intimate shows in an uptown environment that start and finish early, with adequate seating, refreshments and above all, quality entertainment. The Brewery is perfect for a show like this. We will add extra tables and make it cozy.

We're encouraging people to be silent during the show, and to wait for intermission to move about the room and order drinks. There will be two 40-minute sets with a 20-minute intermission. In December, we will be installing wood floors into the Brewery, so this will be one of the sweetest rooms in the area for music. I would love to see us do several of these shows a year. I think there are people that would love an opportunity like this–musicians included.

Tickets for the Nov. 12 show are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Fewer than 70 seats are available. Doors will open at 5 p.m., but Jackie O's asks that no dinner orders be made after 6:30 p.m., so there will be fewer interruptions during the show.

At 7 p.m., the front door will be locked and concert-goers must go through the back door of the Brewery, since cold weather can adversely affect the band's delicate instruments.

Patrons will be asked to start a tab at the beginning of the concert, or to pay cash. Tabs may be cashed out at the end of the concert, since constant cash register noise would be a distraction to the "Quiet Concert" environment. Email circle5music@gmail.com for more information.

Photos: Sriram Bala via Flickr