Chad Lee, Jeremiah Zimmerman, Justin Buchanan and Joshua Zimmerman are The Silent Comedy. - Photo by Rebecca Joelson

A new take on an old aesthetic

American music comes in many forms. Where blues, rock 'n' roll, then the British Invasion bands were once the ideals, new bands more often find inspiration in old American folk, country and gospel. The Silent Comedy, a group of four men in their mid to late 20s, brings the tradition of folk instruments such as banjo, harmonica, mandolin and concertina to its music.

"Then we blend the traditional instruments with electric guitars, bass and drums," says band member Joshua Zimmerman. "It gives our music a rowdier edge than typical folk music. There's quite a bit of rock 'n' roll in it, and some punk that is kind of buried under some other levels."

The Silent Comedy, with Chad Lee, Justin Buchanan and brothers Joshua and Jeremiah Zimmerman, will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass.

The members of The Silent Comedy also are inspired by men's fashions of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and they wear a modern take on the old aesthetic.

"We're inspired by early cinema," Joshua Zimmerman says. "That's where the name of the band comes from. We like the way Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton dressed in those early silent films. It's a sensibility that we appreciate. It's old-timey, but we enjoy the history of fashion. Modern men's fashions have taken a back seat to functionality."

The Zimmermans are the primary songwriters of the group, and also do most of the singing.

"We may throw a cover in once in a great while, but our music is all original," Joshua Zimmerman says.

The Zimmermans' father is a pastor, and the family has moved around a bit. Joshua Zimmerman was born in Nevada; his brother in Alaska. In 1996, the pastor uprooted his family from Hunt-ington Beach, Calif., and embarked on a world-wide adventure that included travel through Asia, Russia, the Middle East and Europe.

"We spent the bulk of the time in Asia, Korea, Thailand, India and Nepal," Joshua Zimmerman says. "We couldn't help but focus on the pop music of those countries, because it was constantly being played in stores, markets and on buses. And in Pokhara, Nepal, my brother learned to play some traditional Himalayan instruments at song circles held around the fires.

"Those experiences influenced our lyrical concepts," Joshua Zimmerman says. "We experienced a lot of strange and difficult situations while we traveled. But our music remains rooted in American musical traditions.

It's an interesting blend. We'll be singing about human trafficking to a rowdy rock 'n' roll tune."

Back in America in 2006, The Silent Comedy found their foothold as a loose collection of musicians. In 2008, the band recorded an eponymous studio EP, followed by a self-produced LP, "Common Faults," in 2010. The resulting buzz brought sold-out pressings of both records and sold-out shows around California.

The Silent Comedy is touring in support of "Cruelty & Clemency," released this month.

Tickets for the show at the Rogue Theatre cost $10 in advance, $15 at the door, and are available at www.roguetheatre.com or by calling 541-471-1316.

Slow Children will open the show.

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