posted October 11, 2005

Concert Series to Feature "Blue Merle"

The Hope College Concert Series will feature the band "Blue Merle" on Friday, Oct. 28, at 9 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre in downtown Holland.

Tickets are $10 for the general public and at the door, and $5 for Hope students who purchase them in advance. Advance sales are taking place at the Student Union Desk on the main floor of the DeWitt Center.

Blue Merle is a rock band that performs on acoustic guitar, mandolin, upright bass and drums. The group's name is from a Led Zeppelin song, "Bron Y Aur Stomp" - "Tell your friends all around the world/There ain't no companion like a blue-eyed Merle."

The band has opened for the likes of J.J. Cale, Badly Drawn Boy and Jem, and has played festivals ranging from Farm Aid to Bonnaroo. Blue Merle's debut album, "Burning in the Sun," was produced by Stephen Harris, who has worked with U2, Dave Matthews Band and Kula Shaker.

The musicians include Luke Reynolds, tenor and guitar; Jason Oettel, bass; Beau Stapleton, mandolin; and William Ellis, drummer. The combination of instruments wasn't deliberate, but the combination of performers was.

"There wasn't a lot of thought put into the instrumentation," said Reynolds, who started the band with Oettel. "We just met musicians we really liked playing with, and whatever they played, that was the thing that came."

Harris praised the mix for its effect and its subtlety.

"It's actually simpler to work with," he said. "It's a fresh feeling, and pleasing on the ear. You don't have to knock the listener on the head."

"Subtlety is what makes Blue Merle what it is," agreed Reynolds. "The lyrics, the melody, the musicianship - it's all there, but it's never right in your face. There's a confidence to it, and you can feel it in the music."

The Student Union Desk is open Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street, and the Knickerbocker Theatre is located at 86 E. 8th St.