The members of a developing geek, folk and Irish fusion band, who juggle career and family life with their passions for music, are ready to jam throughout the Valley this upcoming weekend for St. Patrick’s Day.
Open Beta, formerly known as Talking a little Treason, features Paul Schmidt, Erin Lewis and Brian Abernethy.
Each of the members have a day job and will be playing shows around the Valley to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day starting on Friday night.
Schmidt is data scientist for Macy’s, Lewis is a senior windows engineer for PhoenixNAP, a company that provides global information technology services, and Abernathy is the owner of Journey Frog Audio Services.
Open Beta will perform in Phoenix at Fiddler’s Dream Coffeehouse at 8 p.m. Friday. Then, on March 17 the group will perform at Fibber Magees Irish Pub in Chandler from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. After, they’ll play at Skeptical Chymist Irish Pub in Scottsdale from 2:30 p.m to 5:30 p.m. before playing at O’Connors Pub in Phoenix from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Abernethy, Schmidt and Lewis knew each other for years prior to the creation of Open Beta, having crossed paths in the Irish music scene frequently since the late 90s.
“The length of time that we’ve known each other is old enough to drink,” Lewis said.
Their shared interests of Irish music and geek culture made it easy to develop their own sound, Abernethy said.
The members of the group said they are transitioning from a traditional Irish band to a geek band with Irish influences. The members admit that they are of Irish decent, but still strive to stay away from appropriating the culture.
“There’s a fine line between appreciation and appropriation and we try to stay on the appreciation side,” Abernethy said.
The members said it’s difficult to make it solely as an Irish band because the music scene has changed over the past 10 to 15 years. As a result, Open Beta’s musical direction has changed, Abernethy said.
Schmidt added it wasn’t unusual to be booked for a gig at a place and then have it shut down because they weren’t stable enough.
Despite the hardships, the feeling of performing on stage together is almost indescribable, a passion that fuels the band.
“You put the three of us together, there’s this energy that’s there that’s pretty amazing,” Abernethy said. “It’s about being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself.”
Lewis said, “It’s like flying, it’s like riding a roller coaster, it’s like being on a trampoline with all three of your kids at the same time and laughing.”
For Abernethy, he wants to be able to connect with the audience at his shows, while also connecting with his clients at his recording studio, but he is less silly at his job than how he is performing on stage.
“When I’m recording, I take off the silly Open Beta hat and put on the Journey Frog hat where I present myself a lot more professionally,” Abernethy said. “I want to come across as professional and as knowledgeable because my clientele need that.”
For Lewis, she said she enjoys that she doesn’t need to edit herself as much as she would around her youngest child of 5 years old, or at her job as well.
A distinct part of Open Beta’s act includes interplay between Abernethy and Schmidt that is comparable to the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that aired on television from 1967 to 1970. Abernethy and Schmidt switch off from the older brother to the younger sillier brother often, Abernethy said.
For Abernethy, he said the quips and the jokes come a lot more readily while he’s on stage as part of the performance.
“The audience wants to be larger than life… to pull them along on this musical, emotional journey you’re taking,” Abernathy said. “It’s one of those defining parts of our act, the interplay between the three of us.”