CMU Grad Creates Power Hour, the Album

If Ali Spagnola's hour-long Power Hour tunes don't get you moving, the booze certainly will.

You learn a lot when you get to college. One of the first terms I picked up was “pre-game.” No, not the four hours of radio before kickoff.

The fine, subtle art of “pre-gaming” is the practice of drinking while getting ready for a party, so as to already have a nice warm buzz going on arrival. (This is, of course, much more practical in a college town, where you rarely have to drive.) The ritual takes different forms for different people, from merely sipping a beer to elaborate drinking games that would send more moderate quaffers running for the hills.

One such game is the popular but treacherous Power Hour—get a watch/clock/timer/friend willing to count seconds and take a sip every minute for one hour. (The traditional wisdom is to take a shot-glass full of beer, but a sip will do just fine.) Certainly not for the timid, and to be approached cautiously, but a nice way to get where you’re going.

Enter Ali Spagnola. The local musician and CMU grad was more than keeping busy, but facing the problem that a lot of young artists face: getting anyone to show up at concerts. As she put it, “I had struggled with promotion for concerts, so I wanted to make a party.” In 2007, she began putting together one-minute pop songs that generally revolved around drinking; once she had come up with sixty, the party was born.

Turning a live show into a drinking game—the live Power Hour—was a stroke of genius, and an instant hit at CMU. The five dozen ditties are catchy, varied bits of pop fun, and with each clocking in at exactly one minute, Spagnola doesn’t even have to bother remind the crowd to drink. Every time a new song starts, it’s time for a sip.

With many other endeavours, though, it took a while for the songs to evolve beyond fodder for legendary parties. Spagnola is, by day, an artist and sound designer with local game company Evil Genius Designs; she’s also produced several other albums and is an active visual artist. Finally, after four years, and an extended lawsuit with some dude who claims to have invented the term Power Hour (note: he didn’t), the Power Hour Album was born.

Available at powerhouralbum.com, even the format is ingenious. You can by a shot glass with a USB drive in the base, which contains the album. The shot glass, obviously, is for drinking (although you should probably keep the USB dry.)

To celebrate the long journey from concept to product, a CD release party is scheduled for this Friday at South Side’s Diesel Club Lounge.

“The crowd will drink along and play with me. It should be a good time. A lot of the songs are interactive, so you’ll be jumping up and doing dances.”

As the first live Power Hour in over two years, Friday’s event promises to be another unforgettable party, no pre-gaming required. You can pick up the shot glass/album combo or a regular CD of the Hour, and party coaches will be provided to keep you motivated throughout your long path to inebriation.

And, of course, Spagnola (and After Dark) would like to remind everyone to be responsible. Stick to your limits and, obviously, get a designated driver. Even as a confirmed ‘Burgh party queen, Spagnola agrees.

“I had to start a company for this, so I called it Binge Responsibly, LLC. On my CD, I say, ‘Be responsible. Having fun is cool, but killing yourself is not.’ The game is not about finishing all sixty shots. Everybody wins.”

(1601 E Carson St, South Side. Friday; Doors at 9 p.m., show at 10 p.m. $5. Info: http://www.fadedindustry.com/2011/11/30/power-hour-concert-at-diesel/ )

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