The Bright Light Social Hour returns to NW OhioWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
What started as a collegiate experimental art-rock collective nearly seven-and-a-half years ago has since grown into an internationally touring band that has opened for the likes of Aerosmith.
That band is the Bright Light Social Hour, one that will make its return to Northwest Ohio this month with performances at The Village Idiot in Maumee on the 15th and Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green on the 16th.
“Still, we don’t really have any rules about the music we write,” said Jack O’Brien, bassist and vocalist for the Bright Light Social Hour. “Whatever we’re all listening to — we’re all huge students of music — we just let that kind of make its way into our music. Now, it’s always changing. I think it will continue to change a lot.”
Rounded out by Curtis Roush (guitar/vocals), A.J. Vincent (keys/vocals) and Joseph Mirasole (drums), the Bright Light Social Hour’s fusion of Southern rock, soul, dance, psychedelic, blues and funk created an energetic sound that helped the band carve out a niche in its music-rich hometown of Austin, Texas.
The guys took home an unprecedented six awards at the 29th Annual Austin Music Awards during SXSW in 2011, among those being Album of the Year, Band of the Year and Song of the Year.
“It was incredible,” O’Brien said. “Especially winning all those awards was a huge surprise to us. There was so, so, so many bands. We knew that we had seen our fan base grow, but I mean still. That was only a fraction of the people in Austin and the music lovers in Austin we knew.
“So it was a nice surprise, and it really meant a lot to kind of have that blessing from the community.”
A sense of community has been at the center of the Bright Light Social Hour from its inception, even down to what would eventually become the band name when O’Brien and Roush started the collective at Southwestern University.
“I know Curt was taking a class and was studying activism, and there was some Indian activist who said that the job of an activist is ‘to shine bright light in dark places,’ ” O’Brien said. “So we really liked that idea, and with the idea of it being a very social event centered around music and community.”
Described in part by O’Brien as “really out there” in its infant stages, the Bright Light Social Hour developed a more serious direction once Vincent and Mirasole were added to the mix.
Prior to their addition to the group, however, O’Brien studied abroad in Spain, an experience he said contributed to the Bright Light Social Hour’s sound.
“I took flamenco guitar lessons from this guy from southern Spain,” O’Brien said. “He was such a stereotypical Spanish gypsy — you know, this like, short, little dude, and he had this one bedroom apartment filled with cats. It was like if Ozzy Osbourne spoke Spanish. It was like trying to understand him.
“It was difficult, but he taught me a lot about just music, and feeling, and playing and expressing, and also just a lot of the finger patterns are a lot of things that I use on the bass now.”
From the time O’Brien, Roush, Vincent and Mirasole played their first show as the Bright Light Social Hour at Red Eyed Fly in Austin four years ago, the band has won over listeners with its music and energetic live performances. Fans even helped fund the Bright Light Social Hour’s self-titled debut, which released on September 21, 2010. The band decided to put O’Brien’s handlebar moustache at the forefront of the funding by creating JacksMoustache.com, where the group would offer various rewards for various donations with each including a free, fake moustache.
“My favorite was there was one I think for like one-hundred dollars you could come out and jam with us,” O’Brien said. “So there was this kid. He came and brought his guitar and just wanted to jam, and he was actually incredible.”
And though he’s trimmed it back for the summer, O’Brien is indeed still rocking the ’stache that became a hit with fans, including those in Northwest Ohio.
“Toledo has definitely [been] one of those unexpected spots that really took off and has been great,” O’Brien said. “The Village Idiot is amazing; amazing pizza. And the last time we were there, everybody was wearing moustaches and balloons. It was a great time.”
- On July 15, the Bright Light Social Hour will perform at The Village Idiot, 309 Conant St. in Maumee. The show starts at 8 p.m. On July 16, the Bright Light Social Hour will perform at Grounds for Thought, located at 174 S. Main St. in Bowling Green. For more information, visit villageidiotmaumee.com or groundsforthought.com.