By Denise Ortuno Neil
In a world where music has gone the way of computer generated rhythm and synthesized sounds, it's refreshing to hear original and real music come to the surface, the kind of music that is Penny Unniversity.
Penny Unniversity is comprised of four talented guys from Palm Desert, Mike Gagliardi-Lead guitar, Ted Walker-Bass, Craig Brown-Drums and Rene Almodovar-Percussions. The group got together in the midst of the recession and their own decline of their respected professions, and decided to take the economic downturn and their downtime, as an opportunity take their musical talents and create something new for those craving something different in the music scene.
I wanted to find out more about them, so on a toasty August afternoon in the desert, I sat down with the musical foursome and got schooled on what Penny Unniversity was all about, where they are, and where they are going. So first thing first, what does the name of their band mean? In honesty, before I knew they were a band ( and you can admit it too), I thought Penny Unniversity was some sort of learning institution, and as it turns out, I wasn't too far off base. As explained to me by Mike Gagliardi, it turns out that the name references a term used in the 18th century, when people would gather at coffee houses, and for a penny, could receive daily news and other knowlegde from those in the know. And the band extends the same courtesy to concert goers in a way, spontaneously breaking out into brief story telling during their songs, giving their audience some food for thought while enjoying the tunes.
Which takes us to the next question, what genre does their music fall under? The answer is not an easy one, and takes the same open mindedness to understand it, as it takes them to create it. It's actually a fusion (they call it, Trans-Fusion) of sorts and came to them through the process of colaboration. Some midway between sophisticated Jazz and Latin, but it's so much more. As I listened to the music, I closed my eyes and with the intrumentals to guide me, I was easily tranported to a cool soothing place where the wine glistened in the sun, as the breeze lightly moved my hair and vibrant colors swirled around me. It's different for everyone I'm sure, but that's what makes their music so much fun...it will transport you to a different place. It is tasty ear candy!
The band has been going strong since their inception in 2010, with an array of concerts local and out of town, including being the first headlining band at La Quintas Rhythm and Blues Fest in 2011 (they opened for BB King this year), and have played at the Tour De Palm Springs for the past three years and recently at the House of Blues in L.A. The band has already released their first CD and they are currently working on their second, taking the slower summer months to let their creativity flow. The CD will be released this fall and the band is stepping it up by making their music available on Itunes, Amazon and Rhapsody, and of course on their website which has been viewed in over 34 countries.
Penny Unniversity is in demand, already booking for next season/year, with the Patriot Ride for Heroes on October 25 of this year, a proposed European Tour for summer 2014 and so much more.
The bands popularity is largely in part to their originality, creating and playing their own music, staying steadfastly away from the Cover Band Craze ( a.k.a Tribute Bands) staying true to their own musical evolution.
Encouraging and inspiring, Penny Unniversity has gained their success on their own and have blazed a trail set to their standards, as Gagliardi puts it "This is all with no investors and no backers, just four guys from Palm Desert...and the internet".
To find out more visit www.pennyunniversity.com