"50 Man Machine taps an indescribable vein of musical internationalism..." writes New York's Metroland.
Simply put, 50 Man Machine is an eclectic mix of reggae, celtic, caribbean and alternative rock with pop sensibilities. There is a healthy dose of jazz, New Orleans funk, social consciousness and experimental electronica on top keeping the bodies moving and the minds happy. Members of the DC group have spent a number of years in the festival scene honing their craft on Celtic, folk and international music circuits including an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival with Jaron Lanier's Chromatophoria, The Smithsonian, and guesting on stage in concert with The Chieftains.
What began at The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Mass MOCA, in Building 1 as an iEAR MFA performance art and installation piece about education, identity, hope for the future and freedom, became a unique fusion ensemble. The groups eponymous album met with great success spending 3 months in the CMJ music charts. 50 Man Machine is just completing “Live at Whitlow's on Wilson” and are set to begin recording an exciting new studio album in the ensuing months.
“The eponymous debut disc from 50 Man Machine offers one of the most diverse, if not perverse, instrumental attacks ever captured in a recording studio, as steel pans, turntables, bagpipes, double bass, experimental sound collages, mandolin, clarinets and even an udu or two slug it out for sonic space. In less able hands, such an eclectic mixture of textures could lead to an auditory train wreck-but under 50 Man mastermind L. Collier Hyams' able direction, the results are strikingly effective, never smacking of instrumental gimmickry or musical oddness for musical oddness' sake. Hyams' songs are, for the most part, strong and straightforward, and his guitar and vocal work underpin the whole project with a twang-flavored Americana feel, one that provides ample room for the army of other instruments and players to find, explore and exploit their own acoustic niches... All told, this is a challenging and rewarding record from artists who seem willing not only to color outside the lines, but to toss the whole damn coloring book out the window, drawing instead in burnt umbers and siennas and taupes and heliotropes and fuchsias on the walls of places normally decorated in simple primaries and pastels. Worth a peek, for sure.” METROLAND
The group's live shows are passion filled and highly interactive with the audience playing a key role. Singer/guitarist/bagpipe player Collier Hyams shares the stage with cellist/Trinidadian steel pan player Kristen B. Jones, saxophone/flute/vocalist Trevor Specht, bassist/vocalist Scott Ambush, and drummer Paul dudley. 50 Man Machine delivers a tight, visceral performance while leaving the space and freedom to explore new sonic avenues at each event.
Much of the groups foundation is built on Hyams' fertile upbringing as a foreign service dependent with living experiences in Thailand, Bavaria, Scotland, West Africa and other culturally rich parts of the world. This includes that uniquely strong musical influence and home to his French Creole roots, New Orleans, LA, where Hyams cut his teeth in funk, jazz, and truly caribbean reggae bands. After spending time on both sides of the US he formed 50 Man Machine in New York while touring with Jaron Lanier's Chromatophoria virtual reality and international music performances including collaborators Sussan Deyhim, Will Calhoun (Living Colour), Peter Scherer (Ambitious Lovers), film composer Richard Horowitz, Duncan Sheik, Sean Ono Lennon and others. Somewhere in the middle of that experience he asked rock bagpiper Neil Anderson (Seven Nations) to be a part of 50 Man Machine and after recording an album ended up touring in the celtic rock circuit for 6 years forming the group Rathkeltair, and putting 50 Man temporarily on hold. However, the 50 Man Machine music was continually performed with these ensembles resulting in approximately 10,000 CD sales of various titles from festival stages during that time.
Classically trained on cello, Kristen Jones (Pan Masters, IlyAIMY) discovered the steel pan at Oberlin College and has performed with steelbands in Trinidad, Brooklyn and the DC-metro area. Trevor Specht (Chopteeth, Junkyard Saints) has a BS in Jazz Performance and Composition and has also indulged his technical and academic interests as a graduate student in the Electronic/Computer Music Department of The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Scott Ambush is definitely on the DC metro Scene. He has Toured with Calvin Richardson(UK Tour), Traci Hamlin, Sista Monica Parker(the lioness of the Blue), Mighty Mike Schermer Band, Skunk Baxter, MaryAnn Redmond, Jaime Fox, Less Traveled, Sean Rickman, Meritxell, Jaared Arosemena too name a few. Drummer Jon Laine holds a Master's of Music degree at Howard University in Washington DC. Laine has performed with artists including Aretha Franklin, David Foster, Kenny G, Frederic Yonnet, Black Milk, El DeBarge, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, Common, Steve Coleman, Meshell Ndegeocello, Dwele, Louie Bellson, Charlie Byrd, Fred Wesley, Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath, Yusef Lateef and was the drummer for Omar's Sing (if you want it) national tour. Laine was the winner of Downbeat Magazine's Student Music award for Best Instrumental Soloist in 2004.
Mass MOCA,North Adams, MA; Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY; Valentine's, Albany, NY; Lionheart, Albany, NY; Justin's on Lark, Albany, NY; The Kitchen, New York City; Pauline Oliveros Dream Festival, Kingston, NY; Pioneer Pub, Natchitoches, LA; George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, VA; Del Ray Music Festival, Alexandria, VA; Whitlow's on Wilson, Arlington, VA; Potomac Celtic Festival, Leesburg, VA; Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle, Bethesda, MD; Music Junction, College Park, MD.