George Hrab 2017
|Born||1971/1972 (age 49–50)|
Belleville, New Jersey
|Genres||Progressive rock, funk|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, podcaster, author|
|Instruments||Drums, guitar, bass, piano|
|Associated acts||Philadelphia Funk Authority, Slau, The Geologic Orchestra, The Blue Turtles|
George Hrab's voice recorded in October 2016
George Joseph Hrab is a drummer, guitarist, composer and podcaster known for performing rock, funk and jazz and for exploring atheist, skeptic and science themes in his work. He has released six albums as a solo artist.
Hrab was born in Belleville, New Jersey and grew up speaking Ukrainian and surrounded by Ukrainian culture. He graduated from Montclair Kimberley Academy in 1989.
Hrab performs in several genres of music, but most often in rock and funk. His lyrics are often witty and his songs often reflect his interest in science and skepticism. Hrab lists Frank Zappa and David Byrne as key influences. "You can shake your ass to it, but it's still really smart and interesting," he says. He has described his style of music with one word: Philosophunk! "I’m a big fan of Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, XTC, the Beatles, and things like that. Those are my influences, but at the same time, I’m a huge fan of Stan Freberg and James Randi and Michael Shermer and those kinda guys. So it’s sort of like philosophy and music… What I do is I coalesce the vapors of the universe."
Hrab has released six albums since 1997 as an independent musician. One of Hrab's unique approaches as an indie is to customize the packaging of each his albums. One features a tin box, one in a DVD case, etc. "Each one stands out as a piece of art, giving his fans a genuine reason to buy the physical disc as merchandise, not just a music holder." Two of his albums have won ADDY Awards for their packaging.
Aside from his solo work, Hrab has been a member of many bands over the course of his career, he listed the entire history in one episode of his podcast. The most notable groups are listed below.
In 1998 Hrab was the touring drummer for the Eric Mintel Quartet, and recorded one jazz album with them. The highlight of this tour was when the group played "cool '50s swing" at the Kennedy Center and the White House Christmas party.
Hrab's "day job" is playing drums for a Philadelphia-area band called the Philadelphia Funk Authority. The nine-member band was formed in 1999 and plays corporate, private and club gigs in the region around Philadelphia and also tours nationwide. The group has shared the stage with Elton John and other acts.
When performing his own material with a band, Hrab has called the group the Geologic Orchestra. The band is made up of some members of the Philadelphia Funk Authority as well as other musicians, and has played in a seven-piece configuration among others.
Hrab's sixth independent album Trebuchet was released in June 2010. As a means of promoting the album, he offered the full album to any podcast who wanted to run it, uncut, in their feed. Many podcasts such as Skepticality, American Freethought and We Are Not Delicious took him up on his offer. (See below for background on Hrab's ties to the podcasting community). The album is also available as a conventional CD and digital download.
From November 26 – December 5, 2010, Hrab embarked on an entirely fan-organized tour of Australia and New Zealand. The tour began with appearances at The Amazing Meeting Australia, a skeptical and freethinker conference co-sponsored by the Australian Skeptics and the James Randi Educational Foundation. In ten days, Hrab traveled to and played in four Australian states, the Australian Capital Territory and the north and south islands of New Zealand.
The tour was named "Styrofoam" after a malapropism created as an inside joke by Kylie Sturgess.
In September 2013 Hrab announced the inception of The Blue Turtles, a band formed to cover Sting's first solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles. The debut performance was on July 20, 2014 at the Ice House in Bethlehem, PA as a part of the Ice House Tonight concert series.
On January 23, 2015 Hrab performed Occasional Songs for the Periodic Table as a part of the Ice House Tonight series in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While Hrab previously performed the album on his podcast, and live in an abbreviated version in Las Vegas, this was the first time the entire concert was performed live. The concert consisted of a song written and performed by Hrab for each of the 118 elements on the Periodic Table.
On January 24, 2016 Hrab performed a greatest hits concert featuring string Quartet versions of songs from 5 of his albums at the Ice House in Bethlehem PA. During the concert George performed with the Rittenhouse String Quartet. Together they performed arrangements of Hrab’s songs arranged by Veikko Rihu and Slau Halatyn On May 12, 2016 Hrab reprised The Broad Street Score at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s, Katie Murphy Amphitheater as part of the annual NECSS conference. The show made its international debut on August 24, 2016 in Turku, Finland.
After being featured on the podcast Skepticality Hrab was invited by its hosts to DragonCon in 2006. There he performed and met many podcasters who became interested in featuring his music. He credits this exposure for worldwide interest in his music. "Folks from Australia and Singapore who should have no idea who I am have downloaded songs and bought albums. That is purely due to podcasts," Hrab said.
Around the same time (summer of 2006), Hrab hosted a weekly program called The Geologic Radio Hour on the Lehigh University radio station WLVR. Listed as "free form eclectic" and running at midnight on Tuesdays, it featured spoken word segments and a number of comedy sketches developed by Hrab. (a segment of one of the programs is available on Hrab's website)
Based on the experience of the radio program and the contacts made in podcasting in 2006, and encouraged by his friend and producer Slau, Hrab launched his own podcast in February 2007.
The Geologic Podcast is a weekly podcast consisting of personal stories, comedy sketches, news commentary, music and interviews, starring Hrab. The content often draws from Hrab's musical career, the music industry in general and from topics that relate to skepticism, atheism, rationalism and humanism. The title is a pun on Hrab's first name and his interest in rationalism; the podcast contains "not a hint of geology". New episodes of the program are posted on Thursday or Friday.
The podcast content varies from week to week, but often includes several of a number of recurring segments. Some are Hrab speaking on a particular topic or relating a story, others are comedy sketches in which Hrab plays characters. Occasionally the podcast will take the form of a concert, with Hrab singing and playing guitar. In one such example, Hrab celebrated his 44th birthday by covering Yes' album 90125 in its entirety. Hrab has also conducted interviews with musicians such as Slau and Milton Mermikides, as well as others.
In February 2017 Hrab celebrated 10 years of the podcast with an eight-hour 500th episode which was broadcast as video on Facebook Live. The broadcast featured interviews with Steven Novella, Phil Plait and Paul Provenza, among others.
Other than Hrab's mother and the interviews, nearly all the voices on the program are provided by Hrab.
Hrab has performed on or has been interviewed by a number of other podcasts, including The Good Atheist, Skepticality, The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, Slacker Astronomy, Sessions with Slau, The Rabbit Zone, The Nonsense Podcast, The Skeptic Zone, Point of Inquiry, Inquiry FM, Artist Connection Podcast, The Pseudo Scientists, Maynard's Malaise, Cognitive Dissonance, The Story Collider, and InKredulous.
Hrab also wrote & recorded the theme song for the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, FAR. He created and performed in the associated music video.
Hrab's TEDx Talk at TEDxLehighRiver September 19, 2015 was titled "Rethinking Doubt: The Value and Achievements of Skepticism."
On June 4, 2016, Hrab served as emcee of the Reason Rally in Washington, DC. On June 5, 2016, Hrab moderated a celebrity panel with Kelly Carlin, John de Lancie, Lawrence Krauss, Paul Provenza, and Dave Rubin at the mini-conference that followed the Reason Rally.
After the release of [sic], Hrab's self-published first album, he was sued for invasion of privacy by a former supervisor from his job at Moravian College. She claimed that a short phrase written in Cyrillic script in the liner notes as well as one short track on the album were intended as a disparaging remark directed at her, which embarrassed her in front of her coworkers. Hrab denied the charges and the case went to trial in January 1999. Hrab lost the case and had to pay a small amount of damages, and the album was removed from distribution.
Later, Hrab documented the entire affair (including re-enacting all of the testimony at trial) on his podcast. In 2007 the album was re-released with the offending material removed.
Hrab is of Ukrainian Catholic descent and was born in New Jersey. His father (also named George Hrab) is a musician who has performed in a band called Tempo since 1959. Hrab has lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since attending Moravian College where he received a Bachelor of Music in 1993. In the summer of 2011, Hrab revealed on his podcast that he is allergic to penicillin.