A Lounge of Their Own

Bobb ruled out using drums and guitars: "I was just sick of them. I didn't want that locked-in, formulaic sound. I was interested in breaking formulas, not following them." He also vetoed rehearsing. The leader found that playing, then stopping to analyze, was too confining. He preferred to tape live performances and pick them apart later.

For the band to continue to grow, Bobb felt they had to begin playing in a different venue. "We were looking for a place that had less of a contained audience, where people could walk in off the street and we could feel their energy and reaction, where the sound could be honed," Bobb says.

Elkind, who works at Books & Books on Lincoln Road, suggested trying the Bee Hive. This past May he and Bobb (minus keyboardist Quesada, who had dropped out), began performing there on Friday nights. Elkind also proposed incorporating turntables into the blend. Bobb agreed and quickly recruited Ursula 1000, age 30, a long-time friend and DJ-about-town with whom he had collaborated on various musical projects.

Jerk Machine was an instant sensation at the Bee Hive. As Bobb had hoped, its performances took on the improvised feel of a jam session, with each musician responding instinctively to the others. A core audience came to listen and even at times to dance.

Hoping to create the feel of a musical collective, Bobb encouraged local musicians to jam. Elkind invited his neighbor, lifeguard-saxophonist-flutist Zane Hobbs, age 41, to play along. He quickly became a permanent member.

Two months into the Bee Hive gig, Ursula 1000 asked his friend, trumpet player David Font, to sit in one evening. Instead of following standard guest player procedure and immediately joining the fray, Font, age 24, sat out the first set and listened intently. Bobb was impressed with Font's attentiveness and was thoroughly dazzled when he finally got up and blew a single extended note, modulated with a mute.

"I knew we were on our way to the next level," Bobb says. "I called David up the next day and asked him to play with us on a regular basis. I told him that he was what we were lacking, he was the fifth element. Oddly enough, he and his girlfriend had just seen the movie The Fifth Element a couple of days before."

With the lineup complete, the band had one final adjustment to make: a new handle. The inelegant Jerk Machine was dropped in favor of the more fitting Satellite Lounge. Bobb drew the name from his recollection of summer vacation drives with his parents up the Space Coast. "I wanted something that represented the sounds of the past with an eye toward the future," he says.

Fans seem to have picked up on the concept. "I liken the sound they make to getting high in space," says Paul Colombo, an enthusiast since the days at Churchill's.

Fellow musicians are also devotees of the group. Joshua Kay, of the Miami-based techno-dance duo Soul Oddity, which records for Astralwerks (the same label as the Chemical Brothers), makes occasional cameo appearances. "Some of the most creative minds in this town gather themselves on that stage when they play," Kay says. "The music is strange and odd, but in a good way. It transports you 30 years into the future and 30 years back in the past, all at the same time."

With a growing fan base, solid personnel, and two regular showcases a week (the band has since added Saturdays at the Bee Hive), the next logical step for Satellite Lounge would appear to be making an album. Two local labels -- Schematic and Chocolate -- have already expressed interest in putting out releases. But recording Lounge originals might take awhile, because of legal ramifications. Ursula 1000 uses up to half a dozen samples per song, making the required legal clearances cost-prohibitive at this point.

Typically, Bobb is undeterred. "We have 50 or 60 hours of live recordings, and I am in the process of culling the best material for a ten-inch vinyl EP," Bobb says. "We eventually also want to create our own dub plates -- pressing acetates of chirps, sound bites, drum patterns, and break beats to perform with -- that will make releasing material in the future much easier for us."

While the band looks forward to heading to the studio at some point, Bobb says the true Satellite Lounge experience can be found only in the rush of performing live. "It's that supercharged feeling of 'here it is.' There's the audience, and you can't do a retake," he stresses. "It's like doing a live drama during the golden age of television. You have to be great the first time. Sometimes the music doesn't just sound like a score for a movie. Sometimes the music is the movie.

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