Originally created 02/23/01

Band's name just as wacky as its music



Let's get it out of the way right here: The Russian Dragon Band has nothing to do with former Soviet republics or fire-breathing lizards. The band's name is more a pun on the group's musical theory.

The Rushin' Dragin' band.

"We've experimented a lot with rhythm and tempo," explained Art Lande, the band's drummer and pianist. "In life things move at different rates. A car drives by you faster than you walk. In music that doesn't happen very often. So what we have tried to do is bring a little real life to our music."

The band performs Saturday at the Soul Bar on Broad Street, Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta on Walton Way Extension and Tuesday at Augusta State University's Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre. The performance Sunday is a fund-raiser for Open Door Preschool.

The trio formed in Boulder, Colo., in 1988. Today its members live in Boulder, Phoenix and New York. Still, Mr. Lande said, he can't imagine a time when he will not be a part of the band.

"This is where we all met," Mr. Lande said from his home in Boulder. "But then people went on to pursue other things. But we have such a strong connection, personally and musically, that the group has been able to survive. I mean, we would be friends, whether we played or not, and that's why this works. When we play, it's so we can reconnect with each other. With us, every moment we spend is special, whether we are on stage or at a band movie night or at a baseball game."

For the Augusta dates, the trio will be joined by local musician Rob Foster, a friend of the band from its days in Boulder.

It is, in fact, the connection with Mr. Foster that prompted the band's decision to play the Open Door Preschool benefit. Mr. Foster has a child at Open Door, an unaffiliated school that depends heavily on fund raising to meet operating costs.

Early on, the band decided to play only venues where it felt the audience would invest in the music as the band did. Mr. Lande said that for the trio to succeed, people have to be willing to go with the group's sometimes uncommon musical ethic.

"I want the audience to meet us in the middle with their energy," he said. "This is music that I think is going to be different for different people. I mean, there is a lot of humor in it, but it is also provocative and crazy and often very beautiful.

"In fact, some people might question whether we are a jazz band at all. Sometimes we'll play long pieces without any improvisation, and sometimes we make animal noises. We don't know what we are going to do. We just pull from the things we enjoy."

On stage

What: The Russian Dragon Band

When: 10 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Saturday's concert will be at the Soul Bar, 984 Broad St.; Sunday's benefit for Open Door Preschool will be at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta, 3501 Walton Way Extension; and Tuesday's performance is at the Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre on the campus of Augusta State University, 2500 Walton Way

Admission: $3 at Soul Bar, $10 for the Open Door Preschool benefit and free for the Augusta State performance.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or suhles@hotmail.com.