Diverse double bill set for U-Hour concert

By Casey Thompson

This week’s edition of Afternoon Blend is markedly different
than previous shows, as two radically different artists will both
grace the stage in the Bronco Student Center today.

Punk rock troubadour Curt Phillips is the first scheduled
performer, with a 12 p.m. set.

Hailing from Upland, Calif., Phillips is excited to play an
all-ages show close to home.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Phillips. “I never usually get to play
around the area.”

Phillips’s music blends a standard punk in the vein of bands
like Jimmy Eat World and Thrice with acoustic sensibilities and a
voracious appetite for exploration.

“I try to make every song a different style,” said Phillips.

His current solo project – following the breakup of his last
band – has been going for about three years now, with his first
album now two years old.

“It’s kind of hard to find musicians who are on the same page,”
said Phillips.

The project seems to be going well; Phillips won the Best Folk
award at last year’s Inland Empire Music Awards and is nominated
for Best Male Artist this year.

For his latest album, which has yet to be released, Phillips had
his friends, including former Rufio drummer Mike Jimenez, fill in
on the instruments he can’t play. The sound should be somewhat
different than his first release, which only featured Phillips’s
voice and acoustic guitar.

His main influences may be punk, but Phillips’s music also draws
from Ben Harper, an artist truly in a class by himself.

“You put on a [Ben Harper] album and every song’s a different
genre,” said Phillips. “He’s got a message … he’s wearing his
heart on his sleeve.”

Phillips hopes listeners will think about his own message when
listening to his music.

“The message is hope and to keep getting up … to look forward
and forget about what’s behind,” said Phillips. “I want to not only
inspire and challenge the listener, but inspire and challenge
myself.”

The second scheduled performer, Russian pianist Alina, is set to
hit the stage at 12:35 p.m.

“I’m really excited,” said Alina. “It’s my first college
gig.”

Described as a prodigy on her MySpace page because she toured
Europe at 9 years old with a professional choir and being a master
of languages and writing, Alina’s music is not what you might
expect from someone with a background in classical music.

Mixing rhythm and blues, soul, and pop seamlessly into her
piano-driven songs, Alina sounds more like Alicia Keys than
Tchaikovsky. Her music treads the usual love-life-relationship
ground for the most part, but she also has some fun with
tongue-in-cheek numbers, like “Pull Up Your Pants,” a word of
advice to people who like to sag.

Many of her songs make use of multiple instruments and
electronics, so it will be interesting to see how they translate
when played only with a piano accompanying Alina’s clear, soulful
voice.

It shouldn’t be a problem; she has already played numerous
venues across the country since moving to the U.S. a couple of
years ago, including the Sugar Bar in New York and the Mint in Los
Angeles, both of which have extended an open invitation for her to
play anytime.

Alina hopes to release a new EP in the spring, accompanied by a
new video on her YouTube page. Though she has received offers from
various record labels, at this point she plans to release the EP
independently.

Ongoing success is Alina’s ultimate goal as a musician,
something she already knows a lot about, especially considering she
is only 19 years old.

“I want to have the chance to tour a lot and visit different
countries,” said Alina.

As a perpetual traveler and a gifted artist, it seems more than
likely she’ll achieve her goal.

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