Student band pushes boundaries, melds genres
It’s cold outside, which means the season of UALR act the Slutty Polar Bears is here.
The experimental quartet — comprised of students Sam Lawhorn, Everett Elam of Benton, Jordan Anderson of Lonoke and Norway native Theo Holen — recently joined forces in October 2013. Its first performance was at The Parlor, a jazz club hosted by East Hall, on Oct. 17 during the first monthly jazz night. With only an hour’s worth of practice, the band took to the stage to perform a 3-song set and its selection, which included “Use Me” by Bill Withers, was a real crowd-pleaser.
BriAnna Branson, Lawford’s RA, approached him and asked if he knew of someone willing to participate in the dorm’s upcoming event. Lawford said he’d worked with Elam and Anderson in the past, so their names quickly came to mind when making the decision to form a band.
“Sam and I met one another the second week of school and exchanged digits,” Elam said. “We didn’t meet for a little while, and then the fourth week it was one of those Fridays when I was like, ‘I could be doing my homework or jam with this guy.’ We rounded about some instruments and recorded ourselves performing the ‘Cups’ song by Anna Kendrick and posted it on Tumblr.”
During the Oct. 17 performance, Lawhorn served as lead vocalist and drummer, with Elam playing the violin and guitar, Anderson on bass and Holen acting as pianist. Although many of them stayed on these instruments, the members made it perfectly clear that they should take turns filling different roles. The band’s influences also range from hip-hop to classical, with tastes in pure jazz, folk, ragtime, latin and rock and roll playing a big role in original compositions.
“I’ve started experimenting with the violin as more of a percussive instrument,” Elam said.
Lawhorn said the Slutty Polar Bears is not the group’s official title, and the four piece is still seeking a name to fit their style.
“We will have our name by the next jazz club event,” Lawhorn said. “Hopefully we will be performing at least two original songs of our own.”
While Elam has been trying to book the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall for future performances, band members agree that it may be a while before they decide to commit to a headlining performance. Long-term goals include recording and releasing a record of all original material.
“I would really love to record and put an album out with this band. I feel we’re all sensitive enough that we’re probably going to be picky in our performances and what will go on our album,” Lawhorn said. “I think that there’s a degree of perfectionism in every player and at the same time, perfectionism can be destructive because you can get to the point where you won’t put anything out unless it’s just so. I hope that whatever we produce comes off as something polished and crisp, but not too crisp because we want that raw feel.”
The Slutty Polar Bears will give its next performance on Nov. 14. Those interested are encouraged to contact Sam Lawhorn at firstname.lastname@example.org.