Hammer no More the Fingers dedicates a show to friend

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Hammer no More the Fingers played a free show Monday night at The Pinhook. They dedicated it to their dear and loyal friend, the talented filmmaker, Eric Chen, aka the Cota Flota.

Frequently when a band is described as technically proficient, it is a left-handed compliment by which the speaker means to imply soulless. Nothing could be further from the truth in Hammer’s case. They are brilliant, technically proficient musicians and dripping with soul. This was one of the best shows I have seen in Durham in years. The fellas left their hearts on the stage, you could see the smiles of joy playing across their faces, as the jammed out literally every single one of their songs over more than three hours.

photo by Ashlie White

photo by Ashlie White

When Hammer left the stage Monday night all I could think about was that there are some ways in which machine will never replicate human, no matter how many times Big Blue wins at chess. There was sublime communication on-stage between these men. When technically proficient meets soulful, it is the conjuncture where humans beings are transcendent. It is a place and a feeling that Steve Jobs clearly knew. Many others made computers, Jobs created objects where technically superior met the elegance and grace of artistic design. Hammer no More the Fingers creates and plays music in that same realm.

There are notes on a page and then there is the way waves of music can crash through our souls rearranging us on a mitochondrial level. A machine can read notes on page. A human being can use music to explain to us how much they loved and cared about and treasured and were grateful for their friend. When Joe Hall would occasionally open his eyes and peak through his wavy rock star hair to glance at Duncan Webster, I could see the amazement and bliss on his face. Jeff Stickley positively communicated from the drums, as Hammer navigated themes rooted in friendship, understanding, patience, and practice to the crowd from the elevated Pinhook stage.

From rocking to delicate, they switched moods, chords, pace, with a synchronicity that was bedazzling. The difference between a discordant wall of sound and a shockingly powerful wave of rock music is subtle, but ineffable.

For as long as I can remember, we have been dreaming of machines that can get what we know intrinsically as humans.

I don’t think it is ever happening.

This was a night to treasure our humanity.

Aaron Mandel

Aaron Mandel is a writer and an accomplished public speaker. He is the publisher of the Clarion Content. For more than a decade, the Clarion Content has covered Durham’s arts, politics, music, and cultural milieu. From breaking news stories to the hottest local acts, the Clarion Content is on the scene. The Clarion Content published more than twenty distinguished guest columnists and garnered nearly a million views. Mandel is a volunteer for the Durham Mighty Pen Literacy Project and serves as the President of the Board of Sustain-A-Bull Durham, a local small business collective with more than 200 members. He writes regularly on the Clarion Content and has been quietly writing fiction since the 4th grade. Mandel has been published in the Raleigh News and Observer. He has also produced numerous art shows, including, “Durham under Development”. He was a featured speaker at “The State of Publishing” conference. He has presented to Durham Chamber of Commerce, “Chamber U” on the “New Media”. He has also served as the play-by-play announcer for the D.B.L., a Durham youth basketball league. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Religious Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. An avid policy debater at Indiana and a Nation Debate Tournament qualifier, Mandel was also a member of the New Jersey State Champion two-person Policy Debate Team. He has lived in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Indiana, and Baja California, Mexico.

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