IF YOU GO
* What: Bombadil in concert.
* When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.
* Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.
* Admission: $12.
* Phone: 423-624-5347.
* Website: www.barkinglegs.org.
Despite the booming bombast of the literary character after which it is named, folk-pop band Bombadil has learned recently that a hush can fall over a crowd like a thunderclap.
"We're a very quiet band now," says James Phillips, the drummer for the North Carolina-based group. "You can still play with a lot of energy without being loud.
"We figured out that being quiet is actually more inviting to listeners. People don't like loud noise. When you go out in the crowd and start singing unamplified, people realize they should stop talking."
Part of dialing back the volume was a consequence of diminished lineup. Bombadit toured for years as a quartet formed by Duke University students and multi-instrumentalists Daniel Michalak and Bryan Rahija. Last year, Rahija left the band to return to school, and his absence forced the group to retool its stage presence.
Saturday, Nov. 16, Bombadil will return to the stage at Barking Legs Theater. The band also has received word recently that it will be one of the acts featured in the December iteration of the Scenic City Roots Live series at Track 29.
As a result of the reduced membership, Bombadil -- whose members used to catapult theatrically off the stage and tear with gusto into songs rife with exotic instrumentation -- now is taking a decidedly more subtle approach.
They've traded their formerly garish stage costumes for suits and have eliminated the guitar entirely from their sets in favor of folding in elements of electronic music and traces of hip-hop. The band's entire stage setup, Phillips says, can fit in the trunk of a sedan.
The result is a show that entices audiences through a new-found focus on dynamics and vocal harmony and a general lack of audacity.
"If you see a band in a small room that has a rhythm guitar player and lead guitar player, you mostly hear guitar," he explains. "It's nice to have that element stripped away, which allows our voices to project more.
"You don't see a lot of bands like that."
Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...