All deaf band performs original songs, entertains audience

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The vibrations of bass guitar and cymbal crashes pervaded the aisles of K-State Student Union’s Forum Hall Tuesday as emPower Cats hosted Beethoven’s Nightmare, a three man rock band made up of deaf musicians. The band performed songs from their first studio album “Turn It Up Louder,” and were met with a standing ovation.

Beethoven’s Nightmare consists of leader and bass guitarist Ed Chevy, drummer Bob Hiltermann, and guitarist Steve Longo. All three deaf musicians met at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., and from there began their careers as musicians.

“We write our own lyrics and music,” Chevy said. “We do everything ourselves.”

The audience members, made up of all ages, gave each song a round of applause in sign language. Beethoven’s Nightmare utilized extra bass speakers to carry the music’s vibrations to deaf audience members. The band said they were used to performing for deaf audiences.

“We’ve been told that we inspire others,” Chevy said. “Deaf people who have seen us love us.”

Beethoven’s Nightmare also included interpretive dancers who performed along with the music. The dancers used sign language as a part of their choreography and dancers engaged the crowd by inviting audience members to come dance onstage. Children and adults all came up to dance with the band, and received free CDs afterward.

All of the band members said they were inspired to go into music from other rock band sources.

“I love Black Sabbath,” Hiltermann said. “I really love their rough sound.”

Longo also found inspiration in the sounds of other guitarists.

“I’m very inspired by Led Zeppelin,” Longo said.

The band’s inspiration shone through in their costume and makeup. Beethoven’s Nightmare sported chains, ripped shorts, top hats and black fingernails as they entertained the audience. The interpretive dancers even wore rocker apparel in the form of platform boots and hooded shirts.

Beethoven’s Nightmare was one of many events going on to celebrate K-State For All, K-State’s Disability Awareness Week. The members of the band said they were excited to perform at K-State and offer their talent to a fresh audience.

“We’ve played for some deaf people who had no interest in music,” Chevy said. “We helped to get them interested in music again.”

The Forum Hall stage gave the band and their dancers the opportunity to directly interact with the audience. The smaller setting gave the concert a more intimate feel. The band members spoke and did small skits in between songs, drawing rounds of laughter from audience members.

Beethoven’s Nightmare offered CDs and posters for sale after their show. The band and dancers also stayed after their performance to take pictures and sign autographs.

Chevy said he hoped that the audience enjoyed the band as much as he enjoyed the audience.

“Thank you,” Chevy said. “We had a great night.”

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