The Atlanta music scene of the 1970s was a rich, fertile ground open to just about anything. Musicians were experimenting with various creative outlets, especially Darryl Rhoades and the Hahavishnu Orchestra. Mixing music, theater, and social commentary, the Orchestra drew comparisons to esoteric acts such as the Mothers of Invention and the Fugs. The 12-member ensemble toured the U.S. over three years, and even performed a James Brown parody called “Suicide” on Brown’s own “Future Shock” TV show.
Rhoades still works as an entertainer, and he sees his job in much the same light now as he did then. “Since the Hahavishnu's last date in 1978, I had another band, released 10 CDs, did movies, and played drums while maintaining a 45- to 50-week schedule in comedy clubs … and I don't see how entertaining is much different. The market is tighter and the Internet has certainly influenced how we promote ourselves. It still comes down to competing for attention, money, luck, and marketing potential. And there are less places to perform, a lot less diversity in sound … but the money is the same.”
Rhoades has never shied away from political or social subjects. “It's a lot easier to digest tension when mixed with humor. I have learned in the past, and even now, that humor is pretty subjective. People love to laugh at everything and everybody else, but when it gets close, the sensibilities seem to be compromised.”
Incorporating a theatrical presentation of ideas makes a lasting impression on the listener, says Rhoades. “The difference with the concept of what I do and what most of the groups that have the theatrical presentation is that mine is intentionally funny. I guess having a $100,000 light system and a team of androgynous backup dancers while lip synching songs about being a material virgin is pretty, but give me a Boy Scout uniform, a shark head and some really talented musicians that have heard "James Brown at the Apollo Theatre" and get out of my way ’cause I'll get on the good foot and have the band hit me 25 times y’all … huh!”
"your favorite local atlanta band sucks"
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Too many memories. I remember we were smoking meth on the back patio and a…