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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
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Patricia Barber
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Cirque Du Soleil
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Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
Prairie Dog Ballet
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Ralph Towner
Time Line
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Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
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Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
Alligator Shoes
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"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
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Rising Stars [Issue #17]
O.A.R.: O.A.R. On Top
By Dave Lewis
Stories Of A Stranger (CD Lava)

“Feel good music” is probably as good a term as any to describe the free-flowing jam-band sound of O.A.R. The five-piece has quickly built an ever-increasing fan base of college kids and urban bohemians through their marathon live sets, their Dave Matthews-meets-reggae sound, and their friendly, uplifting lyrics. O.A.R. (“Of A Revolution") is set to release their fourth studio album, Stories of a Stranger (Everfine/Lava Records), on October 4.

Though the band members live in different cities (they began in Rockville, MD, then found early success at Ohio State University), the quintet now uses New York City, home of Lava, as a sort of headquarters. Stories was produced by former Talking Head, Jerry Harrison, and O.A.R. is prepping to embark on one of their biggest tours yet. All signs may be pointing to a monumental breakthrough for the band, but they're content to just keep playing music.

"It's not like we're thinking about this tour as the biggest thing we've ever done," said bassist Benj Gershman in a phone interview with ONE WAY, "We're just gonna go out and tour, play shows, and have a great time." Along with Gershman, O.A.R. consists of singer/guitarist Marc Roberge, saxophonist Jerry DePizzo, drummer Chris Culos, and guitar player Richard On.

Though the venues may be getting bigger, the group's fun, intimate live set isn't going to change. "We try to hold onto the same mentality, regardless of the size of the show," said Gershman, who also noted the importance of audience excitement. "I think that's the most important thing at a live show. Without the audience being into what's going on onstage, there's no show," Gershman said. "The show isn't just about us, it's about everyone that's there," he continued, "so it's integral that they have a good time and that they react however they're gonna react and then we react how we're gonna react. It's a two-way street."

For Stories of a Stranger, O.A.R. attempted to replicate the live experience in the studio. "It’s difficult to maintain that sort of energy because you do a lot of takes of the same thing and it gets tiring," Gershman explained. "And there aren't people there to keep you pumped up, so it's tough. We do strive for that, but it's not always as easy. "

Having Harrison (who's worked with No Doubt, Live, and others) around aided the band. "It helped us achieve the sound we wanted," noted the bassist. "I really think it's the record we always wanted to make. It represents what we're capable of live, but through a studio recording. There are songs that represent our island influence and there are songs that represent our rock influence. And I think Jerry had a lot to do with bringing that out."

Those influences come from all sorts of music. "Everyone has their own taste and that's kind of what makes us the band we are," said Gershman. A quick scan through his latest listenings revealed Curtis Mayfield, Elvis Costello, and Alternate Routes, who will be opening for O.A.R. on tour.

"We're really proud of all the work we've put in to get where we are," Gershman concluded. "If we grow and get to the place that people are talking about us getting to, that'd be great," he said. "But if it fizzles away, we'll still be proud of what we've accomplished. So, we're kind of in a win-win situation."

Stories Of A Stranger

O.A.R. On Top O.A.R. Stories Of A Stranger

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