George Hrab

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George Hrab
George Hrab TAM9.jpg
George Hrab at TAM9 in 2011
Background information
Born (1971-06-08) 8 June 1971 (age 42)
Belleville, New Jersey
Genres Progressive rock, funk
Occupations Musician, songwriter, podcaster
Instruments Drums, Guitar
Years active 1995–present
Labels Geologic Records
Associated acts Philadelphia Funk Authority, Slau
Website GeorgeHrab.com
Notable instruments
Martin Guitars,[1] Tama Drums, Zildjian & Sabian cymbals[2]

George Joseph Hrab (born June 8, 1971 in Belleville, New Jersey) is a drummer, guitarist, composer and podcaster known for performing rock, funk and jazz and for exploring atheist,[3] skeptic and science themes in his work. He has released six albums as a solo artist.

Musical career[edit]

Hrab performs in several genres of music, but most often in rock and funk. His lyrics are often witty.[4] Hrab lists Frank Zappa and David Byrne as key influences. "I grew up listening to Zappa and the Talking Heads. You can shake your ass to it, but it's still really smart and interesting," he says.[5]

Hrab has released six albums since 1997 as an independent musician. One of Hrab's unique approaches as an indie is to customize the packaging of each his albums. One features a tin box, one in a DVD case, etc. "Each one stands out as a piece of art, giving his fans a genuine reason to buy the physical disc as merchandise, not just a music holder."[6][7] Two of his albums have won ADDY Awards for their packaging.[8][9]

Aside from his solo work, Hrab has been a member of many bands of the course of his career, he listed the entire history in one episode of his podcast.[10] The most notable groups are listed below.

Eric Mintel Quartet[edit]

In 1998 Hrab was the touring drummer for the Eric Mintel Quartet, and recorded one jazz album with them. The highlight of this tour was when the group played "cool '50s swing" at the Kennedy Center[11] and the White House Christmas party.[2]

Philadelphia Funk Authority[edit]

Hrab's "day job" is playing drums for a Philadelphia-area band called the Philadelphia Funk Authority.[6][11] The nine-member band was formed in 1999 and plays corporate, private and club gigs in the region around Philadelphia and also tours nationwide. The group has shared the stage with Elton John and other acts.[12]

Geologic Orchestra[edit]

When performing his own material with a band, Hrab has called the group the Geologic Orchestra.[4] The band is made up of some members of the Philadelphia Funk Authority as well as other musicians, and has played in a seven-piece configuration among others.[11]

Recent work[edit]

Styrofoam vibraphone model presented to Hrab to commemorate his 2010 Australian tour.

Hrab's sixth independent album Trebuchet was released in June 2010. As a means of promoting the album, he offered the full album to any podcast who wanted to run it, uncut, in their feed. Many podcasts such as Skepticality,[13] American Freethought[14] and We Are Not Delicious[15] took him up on his offer. (See below for background on Hrab's ties to the podcasting community). The album is also available as a conventional CD[16] and digital download.[17][18]

The Styrofoam Tour[edit]

From November 26 - December 5, 2010, Hrab embarked on an entirely fan-organized tour of Australia and New Zealand.[19] The tour began with appearances at The Amazing Meeting Australia, a skeptical and freethinker conference co-sponsored by the Australian Skeptics and the James Randi Educational Foundation.[20] In ten days, Hrab traveled to and played in four Australian states, the Australian Capital Territory and the north and south islands of New Zealand.[21]

The tour was named "Styrofoam" after a malapropism created as an inside joke by Kylie Sturgess.[22][23]

George Hrab at QED 2011. George was MC of the 2 day event.

Podcasting[edit]

After being featured on the podcast Skepticality[24] Hrab was invited by its hosts to DragonCon in 2006. There he performed and met many podcasters who became interested in featuring his music. He credits this exposure for worldwide interest in his music. "Folks from Australia and Singapore who should have no idea who I am have downloaded songs and bought albums. That is purely due to podcasts," Hrab said.[25]

George Hrab with fans at JREF's The Amazing Meeting 7 July 2009.

Around the same time (summer of 2006)[26] Hrab hosted a weekly program called The Geologic Radio Hour on the Lehigh University radio station WLVR. Listed as "free form eclectic" and running at midnight on Tuesdays, it featured spoken word segments and a number of comedy sketches developed by Hrab.[27] (A segment of one of the programs is available on Hrab's website)[28]

Based on the experience of the radio program and the contacts made in podcasting in 2006, and encouraged by his friend and producer Slau, Hrab launched his own podcast in February 2007.[29]

Geologic Podcast[edit]

The Geologic Podcast is a weekly podcast consisting of personal stories, comedy sketches, news commentary, music and interviews, starring Hrab. The content often draws from Hrab's musical career, the music industry in general and from topics that relate to skepticism, atheism, rationalism and humanism. The title is a pun on Hrab's first name and his interest in rationalism, the podcast contains "not a hint of geology".[30] New episodes of the program are posted on Thursday or Friday.

The podcast content varies from week to week, but often includes several of a number of recurring segments. Some are Hrab speaking on a particular topic or relating a story, others are comedy sketches in which Hrab plays characters. Occasionally the podcast will take the form of a concert, with Hrab singing and playing guitar.[31][32] Hrab has also conducted interviews with musicians such as Slau[33] and Milton Mermikides,[34] as well as others.[35]

As of March 2013, more than 300 episodes have been produced for the Geologic Podcast.[36]

Segments[edit]

  • Ask George Hrab responds to questions from listeners.[37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46]
  • Captivating True Stories from The Adventures of The Philadelphia Funk Authority Hrab tells a story from a Philadelphia Funk Authority gig.[47][48]
  • Dr. Damian Handzy's Facts That’ll Fuck Y’up A Ukrainian professor (named for a friend of Hrab's) explains bizarre facts from science.[49][50]
  • Geo's Mom Reads Jay-Z Lyrics Hrab's mother reads the lyrics of Jay-Z songs and chats with Hrab.[39][44][46][49]
  • Grandma's Entertainment Report A Ukrainian grandmother reports entertainment industry news.[29][40]
  • The History Chunk Hrab recounts (and comically embellishes) notable historic events that occurred on the date of the podcast.[29][37][51][52][53]
  • Horror-scopes Hrab composes his own demented version of astrological horoscopes.[44][48][52]
  • Interesting Fauna News items about unusual animals mentioned in science news.[29][41][45][50][54][55]
  • Minoishe Interroberg’s To Make with the Good English A Rabbi expounds on grammar and word usage errors.[38][42][53]
  • Misinformed Science Podcast A badly researched podcast about science.[44][52][54]
  • Mortimer Hrab speaks on the phone with a codger named Mortimer ("I'm old"), who largely ignores him and rants on.[37][44][45][51][56][57]
  • Readings from notThe Bible Hrab reads completely bastardized versions of chapters from The Bible.[43][49][50]
  • Religious Moron of the Week Hrab laments the excesses committed by religious believers in the news.[29][38][39][40][41][43][45][47][48][51][52][53][54]
  • Rupert McClanahan's Indestructible Bastards A Scottish character recounts news stories of people who simply would not die.[41][42][51][57][58]
  • Science Minute Hrab explains a recent scientific development.[29][41][51]
  • So Where Are You Calling From? Hrab's world traveling "Uncle Thaddeus" calls in and fancifully describes his current location.[38][40]
  • Things People Love that Actually Suck Hrab explains the negative aspects of sometimes inexplicably popular items, products or trends.[55][58][59]

Other than Hrab's mother and the interviews, nearly all the voices on the program are provided by Hrab.

Other podcasts[edit]

Hrab has performed on or has been interviewed by a number of other podcasts including The Good Atheist, Skepticality,[24][60] The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe,[61][62] Slacker Astronomy,[63] Sessions with Slau,[64] The Rabbit Zone,[65] The Nonsense Podcast,[66] The Skeptic Zone,[67] Point of Inquiry,[68] Inquiry FM,[69] Artist Connection Podcast,[70] The Pseudo Scientists,[71] Maynard's Malaise,[72] Cognitive Dissonance[73] and The Story Collider.[74]

Hrab also wrote & recorded the theme song for the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, FAR.[75] He created and performed in the associated music video.[76]

Awards[edit]

  • Won: Gold Award & Best in Show Print (Sheer Brick Studio for "Interrobang"), 2006 Greater Lehigh Valley ADDY Awards[8][77]
  • Nominated: Best Audio Production (Geologic Podcast), 2007 Parsec Awards[78]
  • Won: Best Comedy Podcast (Geologic Podcast), Podcast Peer Awards 5 (Fall 2008)[79]
  • Won: Best All Around Performer (tie), 2008 Lehigh Valley Music Awards[80]
  • Won: Best Wedding Music (The Philadelphia Funk Authority), 2010 Best of the Philly Hot List.[81]
  • Won: Gold Award (Sheer Brick Studio for "Trebuchet"), 2011 Greater Lehigh Valley ADDY Awards[9]
  • Won: Best Wedding Music (The Philadelphia Funk Authority), 2011 Best of the Philly Hot List.[82]

Controversy[edit]

After the release of Hrab's self-published first album [sic], he was sued for invasion of privacy by a former supervisor from his job at Moravian College.[83] She claimed that a short phrase written in Cyrillic script in the liner notes as well as one short track on the album were intended as a disparaging remark directed at her, which embarrassed her in front of her coworkers. Hrab denied the charges and the case went to trial in January 1999. Hrab lost the case and had to pay a small amount of damages, and [sic] was removed from distribution.

Later, Hrab documented the entire affair (including re-enacting all of the testimony at trial) on his podcast.[84][85] In 2007 the album was re-released with the offending material removed.

Personal life[edit]

Hrab is of Ukrainian Catholic[3] descent and was born in New Jersey. His father (also named George Hrab) is a musician who has performed in a band called Tempo since 1959.[86] Hrab has lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania[2] since attending Moravian College[3] where he received a Bachelor of Music in 1993.[87] In the summer of 2011, Hrab revealed on his podcast that he is allergic to penicillin.[88]

Discography and other works[edit]

  • [sic] (1997), Orchard
  • Minutiae (1999), Geologic Records
  • Vitriol (2001), Geologic Records
  • Coelacanth (2003), Geologic Records
  • Interrobang (2006), Geologic Records
  • Trebuchet (2010), Geologic Records
  • 21812 (2013), Geologic Records

With others[edit]

  • Ika (1995) - Ika[89]
  • Lullaby (1998) - Eric Mintel Quartet
  • The Weight of Words (2001) - Slau
  • What if Every Day Were Christmas (2006) - Podsafe for peace

Publications[edit]

  • Hrab, George (2007). Non-Coloring Book. Geologic Books. p. 168. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hrab, George (September 9, 2010), "Episode #182, Live From Dragon*Con", The Geologic Podcast, retrieved September 9, 2010 
  2. ^ a b c "On The Move: George Hrab", Modern Drummer 23 (12), December 1999, OCLC 4660723 
  3. ^ a b c Heller-Labelle, Greg (July 30, 2008), "Hrab: Skeptic 'a geek at heart'", The Bethlehem Press: A5 
  4. ^ a b Wacker, George (November 16, 2006), "Geological Orchestra packs Ice House", The Bethlehem News: 13 
  5. ^ Salerno, Gabrielle (November 9–15, 2005), "George Hrab: To the (naked) beat of his own drum", Merge (The Morning Call) 1 (33): 14–15, retrieved April 21, 2010 
  6. ^ a b Chertkow, Randy; Feehan, Jason (2008). The Indie Band Survival Guide: The Complete Manual for the Do-It-Yourself Musician. New York City: St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 147–148, 227. ISBN 978-0-312-37768-7. OCLC 184822902. 
  7. ^ Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan. "Planning Your Album from Beginning to End" (pdf). Disc Makers. p. 13. Retrieved September 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Shope, Dan (March 12, 2006), "Bricks and print nerds and the Web", The Morning Call, retrieved March 17, 2011 
  9. ^ a b "2011 Greater Lehigh Valley ADDY® Awards Winners", ADDY Awards, retrieved March 17, 2011 
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  11. ^ a b c Terlesky, John (November 2002), "Drummer digs his own groove with the Geologic Orchestra", Go Guide (The Morning Call) 
  12. ^ Kalan, Susan (August 12, 2005), "It's funky time with Philadelphia Funk Authority", The Express-Times: E-20 
  13. ^ "George Hrab's Trebuchet (Full Album)". Skepticality. June 16, 2010. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Podcast Bonus - George Hrab Trebuchet". American Freethought. June 17, 2010. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Bonus Episode: "Trebuchet" by George Hrab". We Are Not Delicious. June 17, 2010. Retrieved September 4, 2010. 
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  20. ^ "TAM Australia: What is TAM?". Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  21. ^ Hrab, George (November 1, 2010). "The Styrofoam Tour". Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Sturgess, Kylie (June 5, 2009), "Episode #33", The Skeptic Zone". Retrieved April 13, 2011. 
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  73. ^ "Cognitive Dissonance - Episode 53". Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  74. ^ "The Story Collider - George Hrab: Grandeur of the Museum". Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
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  76. ^ "This stuff is far!". 365 Days of Astronomy. February 16, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2010. 
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  79. ^ Winners - PPA 5 - Fall '08, Podcast Peer Awards, retrieved April 23, 2010 
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  82. ^ "Best Music in the 2011 "Philly HOT LIST" Contest". CityVoter.com. August 26, 2011. Retrieved September 6, 2011. 
  83. ^ LAURI RICE-MAUE (January 23, 1998). "Song Defames Her, Moravian College Staffer Says * An Assistant Dean Sues Lyricist, Asking Damages And End To Sale Of Cd Cut.". The Morning Call. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  84. ^ Hrab, George (November 28, 2007), "Episode #42", The Geologic Podcast, retrieved April 30, 2010 
  85. ^ Hrab, George (December 5, 2007), "Episode #43", The Geologic Podcast, retrieved April 30, 2010 
  86. ^ "Obituaries: Ireney Kowal, popular leader of Tempo Orchestra, 55", The Ukrainian Weekly LXV (33), August 17, 1997, retrieved September 4, 2010 
  87. ^ "Music Alumni". Moravian College Music Department. Retrieved April 21, 2010. 
  88. ^ Hrab, George (July 28, 2011), "Episode #224", The Geologic Podcast, retrieved July 29, 2011 
  89. ^ (in Ukrainian) Ika (Media notes). Ika. Belleville, NJ: Digital Force. 1995. http://www.worldcat.org/title/ika/oclc/37507268. (Hrab played drums & bass)

External links[edit]