Mantras bring varied grooves to Boone

By Derek Halsey (reporter@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Oct. 10, 2013 | Modified: Oct. 18, 2013
Mantras bring varied grooves to Boone

The Mantras, featuring Keith Allen, Justin Loew, Kenn Mogel, J.W. Powell, Brian Tyndall and Brent Vaughn, will perform at Boone Saloon Oct. 17.

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The Mantras will be returning to Boone Saloon on Thursday, Oct. 17, bringing an eclectic array of grooves that range from funk to jazz to electronic, with a little world music and bluegrass thrown in the mix, as well.

Hailing from Greensboro, the six-piece is no stranger to Boone. The band has performed often in town, and every late summer hosts a three-day festival, called MantraBash, in nearby Ferguson.

The members of The Mantras include Keith Allen on guitar and vocals, Justin Loew on drums, Kenn Mogel on guitar and vocals, J.W. Powell on keyboards and vocals, Brian Tyndall on bass and vocals and Brent Vaughn on percussion and vocals.

A concert by The Mantras is an audio-visual experience, as they also travel with a 3-D video projectionist, Dustin Klein.

The Mantras’ latest album is called “Jambands Ruined My Life,” and it was produced by Matt Gordon with some help by Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Jake Cinninger, who also plays on two cuts.

Allen is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Greensboro with a degree in jazz and classical performance for guitar. As with all of the members of the group, he has a wide range of influences when it comes to music, and many of those find their way into The Mantras’ sound.

“I started to follow down any type of music that I thought was good and then mixed it all together,” Allen said. “At first, I think that (approach) played against us. People couldn’t really pin us down stylistically. We had a lot of kids that would come to our shows expecting electronic or world music or rock. They weren’t disappointed, but they just couldn’t pin us down. But I think it plays more in our favor now that people know what we are all about. It keeps people interested. It keeps us interested.”

Recently, The Mantras brought in a second guitarist in Kenn Mogel, who adds a more layered sound to the groove.

“We bring an Allman Brothers Band and Grateful Dead approach to the guitar,” Allen said. “We both play on top of each other and both solo. There are a lot of guitar harmonies and just getting down. We definitely try not to focus on any one person. For instance, the Grateful Dead had Jerry (Garcia) play the lead with Bobby (Weir) playing rhythm, yet they both kind of played on top of each other. But we like to keep it more of an Allman Brothers approach, where we have specific solos for each person, and then we kind of meld together at certain points, too.”

As for their live shows, The Mantras like to have a good time, while simultaneously throwing out an uplifting message to the audience.

“We try to bring a really intense show to the table,” Allen said. “But also, at the end of the day, we want people to leave with an excitement and a hope about life. A lot of our lyrics are geared towards positivity, just trying to work things out in our own heads that we think a lot of people are dealing with. We have some silly songs that are more about fun party-time stuff. But I’d say 75 percent of the lyrics that we write are geared towards universal love and understanding and hope for the future. Music has saved my life several times. Anytime that somebody comes up to me after a concert and says, ‘Hey, man, you guys inspired me to go home and create some art or practice guitar,’ whatever it is, we just want people to be inspired by the show.”

The Mantras will perform at 10 p.m. Oct. 17 at Boone Saloon, located at 489 W. King St. in downtown Boone. Cover costs $5, and only those 21 and older will be admitted.

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