By Liz Tracy
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Nirvana did it, and the performance was one of the band's best. Pearl Jam did it, too. As did Hootie & the Blowfish, R.E.M., and countless others. And now the Broward-based rock quartet Jadestone will do it, on Friday at Borders in Fort Lauderdale. What are we talking about? Going unplugged, of course.
"Jadestone is really an electric rock band," says vocalist Yves Giraud. "The acoustic thing helps us learn to be a presence right next to the people. We can't rely on effects. We learn how to sing better, how to sound better, and how to be good."
When the band -- Giraud, George Garcia on percussion, Gary Titi on guitar, and Alessandro Bagnoli on keyboards -- plays at Roxy in Fort Lauderdale or at South Beach Pub in Miami Beach, it's easy to see why their hard-rock tunes translate so well into acoustic. "I Heard a Sound" showcases Giraud's gentler side with a throaty, almost whispered vocal. "The Train" offers distinct guitar hooks and layered vocals. But it's the band's songwriting that most lends itself to the acoustic format.
"I think because we are song-oriented and not sound-oriented, the songs become the main thing," Giraud explains. "We have a lot of heavy songs we do for the acoustic set. We make them a lot more mellow, and that's why we can do them acoustic so well."
Garcia agrees and adds, "the acoustic stuff is just a way to get a different audience, a different crowd. We hone the stuff, we tweak the songs, we work on them, and it really helps out later in the electric stuff. People really listen, too, and it goes over well."
In fact Jadestone sometimes combines the two -- acoustic and electric -- for nightclub shows. "If the full electric band isn't working out somewhere, we'll sit down and do some acoustic stuff," explains Giraud. While going acoustic in a beer-guzzling environment may seem unwise, Giraud says it usually goes over well: "We get an immediate response, because they're not expecting what they hear."
All they have to do is listen to the group's first CD, This Is America, which features not only guitars, drums, and bass, but also harmonica and flute. In fact, the instrumental track "Le Joueur de Flute" sounds more like New Age than it does rock.