Bret Alexander of the Badlees to be immortalized in hologram for futuristic performances
Extract from a press release:
Michael Jackson. Tupac Shakur. Frank Zappa. Ronnie James Dio. Whitney Houston. Roy Orbison. The list of deceased musicians whose holograms performed for live audiences continues to grow, so how long will it be before a Northeastern Pennsylvania artist is immortalized?
Not long, according to The Mediatwist Group. Small-town Lititz, Lancaster County-based digital marketing and advertising agency partners with Microsoft’s new Avatar Dimension in Ashburn, Va., Near Washington, DC, to “drive an entire industry forward.” by capturing and preserving the musical performances in the cutout. -edge 3D and mixed reality studio.
This week they’re working with Bret Alexander, the Pittston-based singer, songwriter, musician and producer best known as the lead songwriter and guitarist for Selinsgrove rock band The Badlees.
Thankfully, Alexander is still among the living despite having a health crisis last year – Mediatwist founder Chris Kurtz just wants to get ahead of this upward trend, and he does so by stepping back into his past.
As a young child, honing his craft in the coal region as a production and lighting technician, he has had a few brief business deals with the rising stars of his region over the years. Kurtz remembers bringing the Badlees a bunch of Takamine acoustic guitars for their Boscov Thanksgiving special.
“It was my first big fight with them at Terrace Music. They came and I put aside some acoustic guitars selected for them because I knew they had a big TV gig coming up, ”he recalls.
“I had the gift of bringing rare instruments to guitar clinics in my region. I took the Ibanez PGM30 to a Paul Gilbert clinic. It was just fun. I brought Takamine guitars to Darius Rucker when it was just “Hootie”. Over the years, I have stayed in touch with Bret; I would have him come and sing Feld’s Coming Up Shows, Monster Jam, etc., but I’ve always wondered and waited for the perfect moment to cross our careers. And this, That’s it!”
Pointing to a text message from Alexander, he added: “What a pity it is if someone doesn’t capture Bret’s performances, in circles, volumetrically, while he is here on this Earth.”
Kurtz is also a board member of the Central Pennsylvania Music Hall of Fame, which inducted The Badlees this year along with several other artists like Halestorm. The organization noted that in the 1990s, the Badlees “served as the heartbeat of roots rock” for central and northeastern Pennsylvania. The group’s success with their 1995 album “River Songs” catapulted them to national fame with the hits “Fear of Falling” and “Angeline Is Coming Home”. For the local music scene, this high status never diminished as the band and its individual members continued to inspire, mentor, advise, produce and perform with artists throughout Pennsylvania. As the owner of Saturation Acres in Dupont, Alexander has recorded many notable artists in the area, including the debut EP of multi-platinum rock band Wilkes-Barre Breaking Benjamin.
“Chris and I have been back a long time ago. He was a big fan of my band [The Badlees] when he was a young boy – still is, I know! We have stayed in touch throughout his career and on occasion he sends me an opportunity. I even sang the national anthem at a Monster Jam through Chris! said Alexander.
“This project will be super cool. His new venture with The Mediatwist Group and Microsoft’s Avatar Dimension delves into the world of virtual reality, metaverse and avatar creation. I’m an American artist, so I’m generally very organic in my approach, but I’ve tried to follow this fast-paced space in my humble way. It’s obviously a huge game changer for artists and creatives. We’re in the early rounds (like the early days of the internet), and I’m glad Chris thought about contacting me to get involved. Line me up next to Sir Elton, Sir Paul, and Willie Nelson as one of Chris’s earliest musician avatars. Stay tuned!”
The Mediatwist group is looking to attract that kind of star power, saying that 100 years from now a stadium could be packed to see a Lady Gaga, Beyoncé or Ariana Grande show.
“This project marks the start of a new dawn for TMG in AR / VR and brings us one step closer to leaving our mark on the technology and entertainment industries,” said TMG Vice President Aimee Lankford Kurtz. .
“We are delighted to partner with the unique marketing spirit of Chris Kurtz and his Mediatwist team,” said Sovanna Mam, Production Manager for Avatar Dimension.
“Realistic 3D holograms and avatars are no longer a dream of the past – they exist today and artists and musicians will begin to entertain themselves in a new digital landscape. Chris is well positioned to bridge the digital divide between big brands and big groups in this exciting new medium. Glad to have Chris as one of tech’s greatest evangelists! “
Kurtz also believes that “adding augmented reality parts can improve the live experience.”
“Imagine Joe Perry walking up to you in line for a beer at the Aerosmith concert. Holographic arrows might show you the quickest path to the shortest toilet row. You might even see a virtual billboard for a sponsor. The future is here!
As The Mediatwist Group strives to preserve music in this whole new way, they turned to Sony Music Publishing for additional publishing help and artist protection.
“Seeing a dear friend dream so big, make it happen, then push even further… it’s so beautiful to see! said Lee Shwartz of Sony Music Publishing in Nashville.
“What’s cool, like so many arguments and laws right now, is writing the rules for a whole new game, and there he is right in it! Watching, as I did, Chris has already written or rewritten so many rules, I have no doubt that this will be his last contribution to this crazy landscape.
Photo by Rich Howells / NEPA Scene