Reed Mathis & Electric Beethoven are one of the most unique groups to come out of 2016. The collective efforts of bassist Reed Mathis, keyboardist Todd Stoops, drummer Jay Lane, and guitarist Clay Welch create the foundation for the world’s first “Classical Dance Music” project. Reimagining Beethoven symphonies to a new generation of live music lovers, the band has been traveling the country to spread some serious musical explorations of the modernized material.Today, they’ve shared something quite special. A song they call “Thunderstorm” is defined as a passage from the fourth movement of Beethoven’s sixth symphony, “tranced the funk out for a dance exploration and meditation improvisation.” What Reed Mathis has done with this recent Denver recording is even more interesting.He explains in a Facebook post, “So, in my Beethoven band we have this one tune where it’s one long chord progression that we can move through at any pace we like, and we just make up riffs and ornaments through repetition, sort of like crickets talking. The recording of us doing this in Denver was 44 minutes long. ‘Just for the hell of it,’ I wondered, ‘what would happen if I remove the transitional bits, and just string together all the improvised riffs using only the parts where they had solidified?’ So, I spent a couple hours last night editing that 44 minute performance down to 21 minutes. Pretty crazy! Fascinating to hear our collective-improvised negotiations go from stepping-stone to stepping-stone so quickly. Plus, Beet’s chord progression is definitely non-shitty. Freakin’ unique little band I’ve got here.” Indeed!Check out the 21 minute compilation of improvisational material from Reed Mathis & Electric Beethoven at Cervantes below:
For some teams, conference tournament week is a magical time of year. It’s when Northwestern and Virginia Tech celebrate their newfound chances to make the NCAA tournament despite finishing mediocre regular seasons. Conversely, it’s also the most nerve wracking, potentially devastating time of the year for those aforementioned postseason hopes.See, 31 of the 65 NCAA tournament bids automatically go to the winners of each conference tournament. That means if Georgia suddenly decides to stop playing like a rec-league team and instead makes a miracle run to the SEC tournament title as it did last year, it goes to the Big Dance, 12-19 record and all. That’s bad news bears for the teams that had legitimate hopes to make the NCAA tourney.The problem is every “undeserving” team that gets an automatic bid potentially eliminates a bubble team like Michigan from making the tourney. It’s great for Cleveland State that they upset Butler to win the Horizon League; it’s also very bad for Creighton and Maryland. Butler is ranked No.16 and was a lock to get a bid regardless of whether or not it won the Horizon League title game. For Cleveland State on the other hand, this was their only chance and they made the most of it, to the dismay of bubble teams everywhere.Life as one of those bubble teams is frantic this week. For those still alive in their league tourneys, the focus on just winning their next game. Those that dropped out early have to gut it out until Sunday to see just how much they screwed up. That’s four long, stressful days to hope and pray that the rest of the No. 1 seeds win out as they’re expected. Unfortunately for the bubble teams, this isn’t the best year for predictable results.The regular season proved no team is invincible (see Maryland over UNC, Providence over Pittsburgh), and the little guys were very capable of raining on better teams’ postseason hopes. Case in point, Tuesday, DePaul got its first Big East win against Cincinnati in the first round of its conference tournament, breaking an 18-game losing streak. While that didn’t mean much for DePaul, it did affect Providence, who beat the Blue Demons yesterday. A hypothetical win against Cincinnati would have helped Providence’s tournament resume, while the actual win over DePaul didn’t mean much more than beating a high school team. In this case, nobody won.The truth is conference tournaments produce a lot more losers than winners, as far as NCAA bids are concerned. Creighton won 10 games versus teams in the top 100 RPI rankings, which stands out on tournament resumes. Unfortunately, their loss to Illinois State in the Missouri Conference tournament semifinals was probably their last game this season.Obviously every conference has one or two obvious favorites to win their tournaments, but judging by the results of the regular season, surprises shouldn’t be expected. Unfortunately for bubble teams, unless they happen to be the ones dishing out those surprises, this is mainly a bad thing. In the Big Ten, Michigan State looks like it has the talent and integrity to win the conference title to go with its regular season crown. However, three of the Spartans’ five losses were to teams currently on the bubble: Maryland, Northwestern and Penn State. Should Northwestern beat Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, it would face Michigan State in the quarterfinal. With an NCAA bid on the line, the 17-12 Wildcats would surely be fired up for that game, besides the fact they know they can beat the Spartans.On the west coast, St. Mary’s players must be tearing their hair out every time Northwestern and DePaul win postseason games. The 25-6 Gaels are 45th in RPI and were ranked in the top 25 before losing their best player to injury. The player in question, Patrick Mills, returned in time for the West Coast Conference tournament, where St. Mary’s was crushed by Gonzaga. Now the Gaels are on the bubble and unfortunately not in control of their own fate. The fact Cleveland State won the Horizon League automatic bid did not sit well with St. Mary’s, or Creighton, or Penn State, or Florida or about 20 other teams that probably deserve to be in the tournament more.Of course, “deserve” is subjective in this sense; the rules are every conference tournament winner gets to be in the NCAA tournament, so by that definition, Cleveland State deserves its bid. On the other hand, do the Vikings have a realistic shot against the three or four seed they’ll probably play in the first round? Or at least a better shot than St. Mary’s would? Not to take anything away from them, but their presence in the tournament means a team that already knows it can win a game against a big time opponent, such as Boston College, doesn’t get that chance.While the fact that conference tournament season means everyone gets an extra life as far as NCAA bids go, in the end, every underdog that takes gets spot also takes away some of the excitement of the Big Dance itself. I’m happy Morehead State made their first NCAA tournament since 1984; I’m less than thrilled however, about the 19-15 Eagles’ (17-15 if you only count Division I wins) chances against a No. 1 seed in the first round. Granted, the theme of this year has been unexpected upsets and parity, but in that case it’s probably just wishful thinking.So for all you bubble teams, make like Journey and don’t stop believing. Until the main event actually starts, I’ll be rooting for the top seeds to win the conference tourneys right along with you. I mean, I’ll never get to know if Michigan can beat UCLA or Duke again if the Wolverines are stuck playing in the NIT. Let’s save the upsets and dark horse wins for next weekend.
TOURNAMENT CENTRALCORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – First serve of the 2017 Southland Volleyball Tournament, hosted by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, is set for 11 a.m. CT Friday when No. 8 seed Abilene Christian takes on No. 1 Stephen F. Austin at the Jack Dugan Center.The Ladyjacks claimed the Southland regular season championship behind a 14-2 league record, one match ahead of No. 2 Central Arkansas. The Wildcats enter the conference postseason in their first season of eligibility following the program’s four-year transition to Division I.The winner of that match will play the winner of No. 4 Houston Baptist and No. 5 Northwestern State, who will square off at 1:30 p.m. Friday. In the regular season, the Huskies twice bested the Lady Demons 3-2 and 3-1.The bottom half of the bracket gets going at 4 p.m. when No. 7 McNeese challenges No. 2 Central Arkansas. The Cowgirls defeated the Sugar Bears in five sets in both meetings this season.The day will finish with a rematch of the 2016 Southland Volleyball championship when No. 3 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and No. 6 Sam Houston State compete at 6:30 p.m.The Islanders enter the tournament as the back-to-back defending champions. The tournament returns to Corpus Christi for the first time since 2013; Central Arkansas won that championship as the top seed, defeating No. 2 Northwestern State in five sets. Since 2011, the No. 1 seed has won every tournament except in 2014 when the Lady Demons won it all as the No. 5.The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the tournament will be streamed live on the Southland Conference Digital Network. Go to Southland.org/live or download the league’s app, available for phones, tablets, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.The championship round will be an exclusive presentation of ESPN3, available via WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app.No. 1 Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks (26-6, 14-2 SLC)Stephen F. Austin claimed the top spot in the conference tournament behind a 14-2 Southland record. The Ladyjacks are backed by First Team All-Conference selections Haley Coleman and Danae Daron. Coleman leads an SFA offense that ranks first in the league in hitting percentage (.261) during conference matches. All-Conference Second Team member Makenzee Hanna finished the regular season as the conference’s leader in hitting percentage (.349). This is the sixth time SFA has entered as top seed.No. 2 Central Arkansas Sugar Bears (24-4, 13-3 SLC)Central Arkansas leads the conference in kills per set (13.8) and assists (12.77). The 2017 Southland Player of the Year junior right side Samantha Anderson leads the second-seed Sugar Bears who are looking for their first tournament championship since 2013. Anderson ranked in the top-ten for league matches in hitting percentage (.330), kills per set (3.49) and blocks per set (1.10). Senior middle blocker Megan Nash made her third consecutive appearance on the All-Southland First Team, entering the tournament with a .349 hitting percentage in Southland matches.No. 3 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (14-13, 11-5 SLC)Texas A&M-Corpus Christi heads into its home tournament hitting its best stride of the season. After dropping three-straight five setters, the Islanders have won five consecutive matches in straight sets. Four of those matches were against tournament teams (Stephen F. Austin, Houston Baptist, Sam Houston State and Abilene Christian). Three-time Setter of the Year Kristyn Nicholson marshalled an offense this season that led the conference in kills per set (14.37) in Southland matches.No. 4 Houston Baptist Huskies (20-9, 11-5 SLC)Senior outside hitters Bailey Banks and Jessica Wooten lead an HBU squad searching for its first conference championship. Banks ranked third in the league in kills per set with 3.60 while Wooten leads the league in double-doubles with 16. The Huskies’ defense ranks first in digs per set (16.59) and opponent hitting percentage (.160) in league matches. No. 5 Northwestern State Lady Demons (15-16, 10-6 SLC)Northwestern State earned two individual accolades in Freshman of the Year Hannah Brister and Libero of the Year Channing Burleson, and a First Team All-Conference selection in Reagan Rogers. Brister started all but one conference match and averaged .229 hitting percentage. Burleson led the conference in digs per set in league matches with 5.50. Rogers is the conference leader in kills per set with 4.27 this Southland season.No. 6 Sam Houston State Bearkats (14-15, 10-6 SLC)Sam Houston State had its best start to a conference season with nine straight wins this year. The Bearkats, who reached the tournament championship in 2016, earned two Southland first team selections in Huntsville products Taylor Cunningham and Jordyn Vaughn. Cunningham ranked ninth in league competition for attacking percentage (.321) and kills per set (3.10). Vaughn led the league in overall matches for kills per set with 3.88 and ranked second in league-only matches with 4.08.No. 7 McNeese Cowgirls (19-12, 10-6 SLC)McNeese makes its third-straight Southland tournament appearance after compiling its most wins in a season since 2007. The Cowgirls earned a second team selection in sophomore middle blocker Shana Spree. She led the team in hitting percentage (.314), blocks (110) and service aces (36).No. 8 Abilene Christian Wildcats (11-17, 7-9 SLC)Abilene Christian won the two-team tiebreaker over UIW to earn the final spot in the Southland Tournament. The Wildcats enter the tournament ranked fifth in the league for blocks (2.44) and assists service aces per set (1.40). In overall matches, sophomore libero Amanda Chapa was second in the league in digs per set with 4.85.