News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Rocker Prabir Mehta finds his groove with classical jams
BY ANDREW LEAHEY
Prabir Mehta began working with the Richmond Symphony in 2007.
It was a change of pace for the rock musician, who’d spent the past two years touring with his band, Prabir & the Substitutes. The symphony had hired him as a utility man, asking him to improve their online marketing and run some of their day-to-day operations. As his work with the company increased, so did his appreciation for classical music.
Meanwhile, Prabir & the Substitutes were splitting up. The guys had hoped to record one final album—an epic swan song titled “The Funeral,” featuring string arrangements by two members of the symphony—but plans fell apart before any studio time could be booked.
“I had already written some of those songs,” Mehta explained, “and I’d been working on them with a married couple named Treesa and Matt Gold, who played with the symphony. We wound up doing a few shows around town—just me on guitar, Treesa on violin, and Matt playing the double-bass.”
Several years later, Gold-rush—now a four-piece band featuring veteran drummer Gregg Brooks—is prepping for a busy year. Next month, they’ll pile their instruments into Brooks’ van and drive to Austin, where Goldrush is scheduled to perform at the South By Southwest music festival.
As the year goes on, they’ll release a 7-inch record with Mad Dragon Records, a Philadelphia-based label that’s taken a shine to Goldrush’s unique sound, and travel to Nebraska to teach a workshop at the Omaha Conservatory of Music.
Of course, fusing rock ’n’ roll with classical influences had presented a few challenges.
“When I was with the Substitutes,” Mehta said, “I could steer the direction of a song by saying things like, ‘Try to bring out the Zeppelin influence in this one’ or ‘This song should have a Tom Petty feel.’
It was more difficult to do that with the Golds, because they weren’t as familiar with that sort of pop–rock background. We had a language barrier to break.”
To minimize confusion, Mehta gave the Golds a crash course in modern music, playing records by soul artists and rock icons before band rehearsals. In return, they took him to classical shows around the Richmond area, pointing out the various things that orchestral instruments were capable of doing.
Goldrush’s music occupies the middle ground between those two genres. The songs are grounded in loud guitar chords and big pop hooks, but they’re laced with elegant, symphonic touches, like deep-seated rumblings from Matt Gold’s contrabass and swooning, guitar-like fills from Treesa’s violin.
Pretty much everybody sings, too, and Goldrush’s harmonies pay tribute to the one band that all four members grew up with: The Beatles.
“We’ve learned how to speak to one another,” Mehta said. “Toward the beginning, when I’d ask the Golds to make something sound intense, they’d think I wanted the strings to be really quiet whereas I was thinking the strings should be crazy loud. But now it works really well. It’s a new way of communicating.”
What: Musician Prabir Mehta currently has a photography show, featuring images from a trip to India.
Where: Read All Over Books, 307 William St., Fredericksburg.
When: Through Feb. 29
Details: Proceeds benefit Fredericksburg All-Ages.
Andrew Leahey is a freelance writer and musician in Nashville.