the Ego and the Oracle

Can their rock songs predict the future?

We've always known that the answers to life's big questions are somehow embedded in the words and melodies of the music we love, and now local band Jim's Big Ego and "oracle" Andras Jones are out to prove it.

If you want to know if your marriage will work or what to name your unborn child and are looking for an alternative to laying out the tarot cards, reading the tea leaves, or heading to a psychic, the pop trio and the Seattle-based radio host offer up their musically mystic stage show, "The Ego and the Oracle," for your consideration.

Jones, who is also a musician and producer, crossed paths with Jim's Big Ego a few years back at the Lowell Folk Festival, and they hit it off. The band then appeared on his "Radio8Ball" program, now online at radio8ball.com , where Jones answers listener questions by divining the meanings of the songs that play after he hits shuffle on a randomly selected CD.

Jim's Big Ego lead singer Jim Infantino thought it would be a great idea for a live concert, and the two parties came together for a few shows, including a trio of performances last year at Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway in Somerville, where they return for a 10-show run starting tonight.

At the show, audience members ask a question and Infantino spins a big wheel with 30 Jim's Big Ego songs listed on it. Whatever tune the wheel lands on, the band plays, and then Andras, Infantino, and the audience member try to work out what it all means.

We spoke to Jones, who was in Los Angeles producing an album for actor and comedian Andy Dick , and Infantino by phone to get the psychic scoop. And, of course, to ask a question of our own.

Q Andras, what are your oracle qualifications?

Jones: I've been doing the "Radio8Ball" show for about 10 years. I don't know about my oracle qualifications, I just have a strong sense of synchronicity, and people seem to get a lot from the divination that I do. Mostly I think it's because I have a really sort of relaxed attitude. I don't think of it as being "you're getting the answer." That's the thing about playing with synchronicity. The more we open ourselves up to the playful, imaginative parts of our minds, the more often we actually are getting in touch with the parts of ourselves that are really intuitive.

Q Do you ever get freaked out by how well the songs seem to answer the questions?

Infantino: It's kind of amazing.

Jones: So much so that I don't get freaked out by it. Having done it for so long, you just develop faith that this works.

Infantino: I, on the other hand, not having absolute faith in the process, have been completely freaked out. When we did the show in Seattle, one of the most amazing answers came up when somebody came to the stage and asked 'what should I name my unborn son?' And the only song with a name on it on a wheel with 30 songs showed up. It was called "The Ballad of Barry Allen," which is a song I wrote about a comic book character called the Flash because my uncle used to draw the Flash. So we suggested you don't necessarily need to name your kid Barry, the song's about the Flash, and the guy said "oh, we were thinking about Flash as a name."

Q Flash? Really?

Infantino: Well, it is Seattle. (Laughs.)

Q So, Jim, absolute faith or not, you're always able to make a connection, no matter how specific the meaning of the lyrics were to you when you wrote them?

Infantino: There are a lot of times when a song comes up and I don't see the connection right away. But by the time we've actually talked about and examined the question, there's always a connection. It's sometimes not what the asker wanted it to be. (Laughs.) But it invariably has some kind of profound connection. That's kind of the amazing part of the show.

Q You never get a nagging sense of ownership as your personal musings are reinterpreted for strangers?

Infantino: Oh, no, it's great. The best thing about the show is that everyone in the room listens in a completely different way to all the songs that come up because they're waiting for the answer to the question. We never have that experience in a concert. Every song has a purpose, and the greatest thing is that everybody in the room generally feels a lot of compassion for the person asking the question. They really want the song to be the perfect answer for them; that's the best thing for me.

Q Since you're a musician, Andras, why not include your songs?

Jones: At some point I may. I created an online oracle at radio8ball.com that has 78 songs on it, and I put some of my own songs in there. But it's interesting the way Jim talks about it -- I often think that one of the reasons I started doing this was to create a way of listening to music that was closer to the way I listen to music and the way I wanted people to hear my music when I performed. I know that I got frustrated with what Jim's talking about. You're going out and you're just sort of playing songs and there isn't a lot of intention around the listening. And with this, people aren't just rooting for the people asking the questions, they're really rooting for the band to tap into some kind of wisdom.

by Sarah Rodman, Boston Globe

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