The Full Story...
My friends, sit down and I shall tell you a tale of
madness, despair, hope, and glory...
(as told in third person, by bandleader Andrew Benjamin with many ommissions, errors, misconceptions, and slight exaggerations)
Corrections, additions?, email 'em to email@example.com
years ago while living in the land of Durham , North Carolina a young
lad named Andrew recieved his tax check and went out and bought himself
a cassete tape 8-track recording device... Soon he and his friends
we're gathering on sunday evening for celebration and Meatfest (a
strange ritual in which nothing but grilled meat was eaten, and much
wine, herbs and in the summer months Mint Juleps were often consumed)
the recordings made during these sunday baccanals became the basis for
The Hellblinki Sextet "Self-Titled Debut" released sometime around the
turn of the century...
The tapes made during these
sessions eventually travelled with Andrew to Augusta, GA. where his new
friend and technical adviser, "Ken" encouraged him to finish the
record... With a spring in his step and a dream in his heart,
Andrew finished the record, built the flash website, ordered T-shirts
and waited for his genius to be discovered... Alas, though the
record was discovered by a few lovers of the bizzare, arcane, and
obscure, it was not an immediate success as Andrew had hoped, although
The Self-Tiled debut was played in it's entirety on Dutch Radio 4...
It was time to launch a live incarnation and spread the word of Hellblinki to the masses!!
live show had a few fits and starts, finding space, convincing creative
talented people to actually show up to rehearsals, finding a venue to
host such an endevour, etc. and so on... Eventually on November 11th,
2000 the Live Hellblinki was born. Hellblinki's own venue "The
Hangnail Gallery" played host to the event, the great Atlanta Band
"Pineal Ventana" and noise practitioners "Sikhara" joined the bill...
was a grand occasion only slightly marred by the percussionist's
complete mental breakdown the day before the show, he left a note on
the door that he was unable to do the show... Luckily "Woodshop" John
filled in and a fine time was had by all...
Sextet continued in this fashion for about 2 years, with a line-up of
Six multi instrumentalists along with our great friend (and owner of
the now defunct, but still legendary Augusta record store "Infernal
Racket") Mr. Harry Grimes, manning the sample machine, and Miss
Danielle Purcell providing the Operatic Female Vocalisations...
the members were constantly changing and after awhile and much struggle
and frustration, Andrew decided, inspired by his noise musician friends
(who were able to tour europe alone with a keyboard) to ditch the band
and learn to play drums with his feet...
After a mad drunken
brilliant birthday performance with the new line-up of one, Andrew took
a break from Hellblinki to join his friend Von, in "The Shark Devilles"
a madcap Psychogarage-a-billy group that lived and died in a one year
flame of glory...
That safely out of his system, Andrew returned
to Hellblinki and began anew, in ernest... Although he imagined a solo
project, many of the old members wanted to play those catchy Hellblinki
songs that were stuck in their hearts and heads. Never knowing who
would actually show up when promised, Andrew booked what he could and
hoped for the best...
In twos and threes, here and there
Hellblinki slowly built up to a fairly consistant five-piece, and
gained a following in Augusta and the surrounding area. It was
time to try something big... the next record, "A Pirate Broadcast" was
nearly finished, why not plan an extravaganza, the likes of which had
never been seen in old Augustatown...
The Imperial, Augusta's
own "Theatre Beautiful" opened in 1918, was the chosen venue.
Local band Distal, who's drummer Eric Rinker was instrumental in the
record's production, and recently reformed regional favorites, The
Goodies, were chosen as supporting acts. Local avant jazz
experimenters, "Moniker" would provide glorius discord emanating from
the orchestra pit before the show and between the bands. The
lobby area was bedecked with giant paintings, wooden cut-outs
representative of the album artwork, by Andrew Benjamin, and in front
of the theatre, local fire troupe Pyroteque lit up the night.
few weeks before the show, long time female vocalist, Danielle Purcell
announced that she'd be leaving the band and moving to
Schenectady. She did return to Augusta to perform the big show
The night before the show, the horn player was arrested for check
fraud, and was replaced by occasional contributor, fiddle player Henry
With a little luck and a lot of work, the show went on
without a hitch. The turnout was fantastic, and a good time was had by
all. Hellblinki's set was a recreation of the Pirate's Broadcast
record and featured film projection by "Projexorcism", actors giving
recreating the songs, a ballet dancer (Andrea) giving form to "The
Lily" and a stage filled with pirates for Brad Owens recreation of his
"Don't mess with the Mouse" speech from the record leading into the
entire cast singing and dancing to "Pirate's Life"!
singer Danielle Purcell leaving the band, Andrew called on his friend
Kamela Lise, who had toured nationally with minneapolis band Apocalypse
Theater for 8 years and had been part of two national tours with
Pigface, in hopes that she might be interested in joining the band...
Hellblinki was in luck! Kami was thrilled by the invitation and moved
to Hellblinki's hometown of Augusta, GA to join up.
Kamela lent her
experience and awesome stage prescence to the band for roughly the next
year touring the southeast, performing at bars and festivals, until
living conditions in Augusta forced her to move back to the Twin Cities.
always a rotating cast of characters now had to find a new female
singer, or continue without one... A freind of the band, DJ Kantrip,
living in Columbia, SC at the time knew a gal from Charlotte who had
done some singing with the symphony there, and before long Valerie
Meiss joined Hellblinki having never even seen the group live...
the same time, Hellblinki found Erika Jenkins, a violinist and horn
player, who would alternate instruments during the same song, tucking
the horn between her leg while playing violin. Valerie and Erika
sang a most beautiful version of "The River" together, two powerful
voices weaving the melody. Cello player Michael was with the band
occasionally at this time as well as baritone sax player Dave Sherman.
period became one of great transition for Hellblinki, as Andrew's lady
Amy found herself pregnant, Erika was pregnant as well, Hellblinki lost
the lease on The Hangnail, their rehearsal space and gallery.
Andrew made plans for a temporary move to Asheville, NC while Erika
made plans to move to Colorado, but not before one more big show at The
As Hellblinki had begun work on their next
album (which was to become "Oratory") this show was to feature many of
the new songs that were being recorded at the time. The songs and
samples were arranged to a 16mm film created by Mr. Benjamin by
spilcing ancient library films together into a new storyline.
Additional video, including video feedback, would once again be
provided by Projexorcism. "Behind the Masque" a guerilla thetre
troupe based in Augusta, and know for their street performances,
collaborated with Benjamin to produce a series of scenes acted on stage
that mirrored the storyline of the film and the lyrics of the
songs. Pyroteque would again light up the night, cigarette girls
would entice the crowd with noismakers and toys, and Athens, GA band
"Hope for a Golden Summer" and New Orleans natives, The Zydepunks (who
were displaced by Katrina the week before the show) joined in the
madness. Local filmaker Steven Gillam produced a TV commercial that
aired on comcast in the weeks before the show. Hellblinki was a
12 piece band for the shindig, at least 50 people were involved in
producing the show!
The show was fantastic, but sadly the
turnout was not, Andrew Benjamin was now living in Asheville, and what
had become a relatively solid line-up, was a rotating cast once
again. Many of the Augusta folks would participate when able, and
Hellblinki had formed an alliance with members of the Asheville group
"The Rib Tips". Fiddle player Ian Moore, bassist Ed Bonjokian,
and percussionist John Mulholland would join the band when needed and
availiable, and began participating in the recordings that were to
becom "Oratory". Through Ed, the band also found trumpet player
Christian Woodall who wwould become a regular member of the group and
contributed his amazing horn skills to the new record...
remaing Augusta folk found it more difficult to travel, Hellblinki
became an Asheville band, Valerie made plans to move to town, and
Hellblinki found Brad Lunsford who under the moniker "Baron Samedi"
hosted a local gypsy night and had DJed at the bands shows, Brad slowly
became Hellblinki's most regular bassist, and Hellblinki was on it's
way to becoming a three piece...
Late 2007 during a mini-tour
Hellblinki was highly acclaimed as a Three Piece by folks who had seen
many incarnations of the band. It became clear to Andrew,
Valerie, and Brad that the days of rotation members, meeting each other
for the first time on stage, of relying on folks with questionable
levels of organization and dedication was over, it was time to
concentrate on the core unit and take the three piece on the road as
much as possible!
So here we are dear reader, October 2008 having
recently released their epic masterpiece "Oratory" and having completed
their first national tour, the 'blinki's are poised for greatness,
madness, a shindig in your town and hopefully a boat tour with lots of