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Winston-Salem’s ECPE making some great noise

by Heather MacIntyre

The Enrichment Center Percussion Ensemble (myspace.com/ecpe) of Winston-Salem started from the day program at the Enrichment Center in 1997, an arts-based day program for adults with disabilities. The band was formed from attendees of the program who had the interest, talent and commitment to be in the group. Now with seven members, they have their new album, Ten Songs, out on MicroEarth Records (microearth.com); you can purchase on CDBaby, Amazon.com and even Target. They’ve all performed at places like the Gateway Gallery, SECCA, Reynolda House and in more odd settings, A grocery store dairy aisle? A sewer pump repair shop? It’s true. They group doesn’t believe in discrimination, so why judge any venue location or opportunity to play music? When I asked what their favorite place to play was, they agreed to always having fond memories of playing at SECCA, but last week’s performance downtown at the Werehouse was a blast. The music really comes together with all of the instruments (some rather unusual) played by members: Aaron Bachelder: guitar, percussion, arranger and composer; Marcie Haley: drums and percussion; Meredith Lamy: vibraphone and percussion; Walker Lewis Jr.: marimba and percussion; Jonathon Lindsay: piano and percussion; Andrew Schumaker: keyboards and percussion; and Valarie Williams: glockenspiel and percussion.

With no limits set to any specific genre of music, they have the freedom to cover tunes from a variety of artists like Lou Reed, JS Bach and Thomas Tallis – they’ve even been known to pull out a klezmer number or two. The album has collaborations with NCSA violin instructer Sarah Johnston, songwriter Jeffrey Dean Foster, Chimera Physical Theatre and Microearth label-head Morgan Kraft.

Most participants of the ensemble have a pretty wide range of music tastes. Composer Aaron Bechelder says, “I’d say we all share a fondness for traditional American styles, at the least. But we listen together to a wide range of music from John Cage to Etta Baker, the Buena Vista Social Club to Harry Partch – it’s all valuable.”

Altogether, the sounds of inspirations and influence over time come together in their arrangements to produce a great (mostly instrumental) set of music that should have found a spot on The Life Aquatic soundtrack. Their next show is May 23 at the Gateway Gallery (1006 S. Marshall St., Winston-Salem). The show starts at 7 p.m. and will feature artists Ricky Needham, John Bryan and Ryan Pitts.

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