Every musician has a distinct philosophy of music. Nick Allen is no stranger to this concept. Allen is a fifth year here at Lawrence. He plays both upright double and electric bass, and is studying to double major in music performance and music education.
In the spring, he plans on student teaching to further the cultural sharing he so passionately believes in. He expresses his beliefs as two halves. “Music is the way that we both express and define our culture. It is how we share cultural experiences. The other side is that it’s entertainment.” This philosophy is truly highlighted by his explorative nature, which he implements into every group he plays in, a list that would be difficult to match.
“I play in a lot of different groups. I play regularly in a funk group called Porky’s Groove Machine; I played in a couple bluegrass bands for a while, Involuntary String Band and Inglourious String Basterds, sometimes called Inglourious Brassterds when saxophone or trombone are involved. I also played in the heavy metal ensemble at Lawrence,” Allen says. “Some of my best experiences here at Lawrence have been being exposed to different music and other musical practices and cultures that I would not have been able to, or maybe even wanted to, before coming here.”
This want, Allen expresses to explore every style he can comes from his major influence: jam bands, like Phish.
“I listened to a lot of jam bands growing up and a lot of groups that do improvisation and feature improvisation in their shows. That’s one thing that I try to do in every group that I am in: I try to improvise as much as possible,” Allen says. He not only realizes the true cultural importance music possesses but also strives to mix different styles, creating new genres, maybe even new cultures.
“When we start a show or we start a song, there’s no telling where we are going to end up,” Allen commented. “We could end up on a different song, we could end up playing in a different style.” Through this mixing and re-styling, Allen is able to share his and other’s cultural experiences.
Allen has explored another genre while taking lessons from Dean Pertl on the didgeridoo his last four years here. Deep listening now influences much of his work. An interesting correlation arose between this genre and another he dabbles in: heavy metal.
Seemingly different genres have ways of blending unexpectedly. Through his work, Allen has discovered this reality. He takes his past experiences, present studies and want for future exploration and fuses them. Music has the power to be an intricate and complicated art form.
“With music, I found I could not only immediately enjoy performing and exploring, but through music you can provide a service the people want, arguably that people need,” Allen says. It can be found that “all these different combinations have ways of connecting. If you take the time to explore, you can find out some really interesting things.”
Allen may have discovered quite a bit already, but his musical exploration is nowhere near over.
“Now, through all this stuff I’ve been exposed to and through all the wonderful education that I’ve gotten here, I feel more doors have opened to me lately. I’m jazzed about exploring more and playing as much as possible.”