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Originally published October 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 24, 2008 at 4:14 PM

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Whatever this zany group is, it's "Awesome"

The band "Awesome" will hold "The 'Awesome' Cycle," a four-week series of shows in conjunction with Seattle's ACT Theatre, Oct. 24-Nov. 15.

Special to The Seattle Times

On the Internet

"Awesome": Sample some "Awesome"-iana at www.awesometheband.com.

Performance preview

The "Awesome" Cycle

"The 'Awesome' Cycle" plays 8 p.m. Fridays and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 15, at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle; $5-$15 (206-292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).

"Awesome" — always in quotation marks — is a rock band that likes to sing songs about fruit, bees and Delaware.

No, no, "Awesome" is an "art collective" that was once seen engaging in slow-motion cellphone battles at the 70th birthday party of a local didgeridooist.

Or are they purveyors of echoey trance music from the depths of the cistern at Fort Worden?

Actually, they're all of these and more — and they're about to become more so.

Whatever they are, there are seven of them: John Ackermann (mandolin, ukulele, etc.), Kirk Anderson (drums), Basil Harris (bass), Evan Mosher (trumpet), David Mitsuo Nixon (banjo, crazy dancing), John Osebold (guitar, violin, theremin) and Rob Witmer (accordion, woodwinds, triangle, glockenspiel). Five of them sing — very sweetly, in harmony.

Four famous rock bands that they all "agree" on are the Beatles, They Might Be Giants, Ween and Yes. My own take is that "Awesome" is (are?) the bastard offspring of the Association (mmm, those harmonies) and the Mothers of Invention, with a smidgen of the Bonzo Dog Band thrown in. Too many 1960s references, I know — but it's been four decades since I've heard anything quite this zany or tuneful.

Friday night, Oct. 24, at ACT Theatre, they inaugurate "The 'Awesome' Cycle," a four-week series of shows, with a different program every weekend. This insanely ambitious project opens with "Seven Brides for Seven Band Members," their take on the classic musical by Johnny Mercer and Gene de Paul.(Never mind "Bless your beautiful hide!" — I want to see what they do with the strangest lyric ever to appear in a 1950s movie: "A man can't sleep / When he sleeps with sheep.")

"Brides" will be followed by "A Funeral for Indie Rock" ("This time we've got the corpse to prove it"); "Election Report and Analysis" ("how the unthinkable occurred and why we're so happy about it"); and, finally, "The Littlest Bang" which asks, "When the universe finally collapses into itself, only to be reborn again in a new Big Bang, does it actually make a sound?"

The whole package, suitable for all ages, is being billed as an amalgam of "indefinable theatrics and music using banjos, typewriters, trumpets, film strips, guitars, masking tape, accordions, and much, much more. (And sometimes even less.)" Special guests include Sean Nelson (formerly of Harvey Danger), choreographer Amy O'Neal as dance consultant and, supposedly, Abraham Lincoln as "propmaster."

"Awesome's" side project, The Half Brothers — a bluegrass trio featuring Ackermann, Nixon and Rick Miller, specializing in songs about food, death and traveling — will be on hand to provide "U.S. Constitution Expertise." Someone or something called "Poocle Jr." will serve in a "Stunt Coordinator/Animal Handling" capacity. The lads have also hired the services of a fashion consultant, a "Dangling Objects Wrangler" and a legal team charged with "Performance Interruptions."

What will this all amount to?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Here's the lineup: "Seven Brides for Seven Band Members" (Oct. 24-25); "A Funeral Report for Indie Rock" (Oct. 31-Nov. 1); "Election Report and Analysis" (Nov. 7-8) and "The Littlest Bang" (Nov. 14-15).

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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