Monday, January 28, 2013

Jurassic 5 is officially back together: Now that’s golden

JURASSIC 5 IS OFFICIALLY BACK TOGETHER! Go tell your friend, parents, and children all around because this is one of the most exiting things I’ve heard in a long time. I have seen Chali2na many times, and he alone puts on an incredible show, but I never thought all of J5 would reunite again since they were together from 1993 – 2007 and out of nowhere, 2013.

According to Chali2na, Jurassic 5 will definitely be playing Coachella Music Festival in California and two other dates in Indio, California. I have a good feeling (but it’s just a feeling) that J5 will be hitting up Denver for at least one show as well, and are testing the waters with Coachella and the other two shows. Chali2na comes through Denver more than most artists, besides maybe Brother Ali, and love playing here. He can’t stay away from such a great place. Chali2na is even featured on The MTHDS’s latest album Pretty Deep and single “Influences.” 

The MTHDS are a local Denver band, which went on tour with Chali2na. These creative and entertaining groups of guys have had the opportunity to build a relationship with the J5’s “verbal Herman Munster.” This gives me hope that they will travel east towards Denver to give us the exciting and unique experience of seeing this one of a kind hip-hop group live.

J5 has a defined sound that separated them from the rest of the hip-hop world because of their energy stage presence, clever lyricism, and beats that you could play over and over. All of these factors came together tighter than glue, which gave J5 an initial edge over other hip-hop artists. They created a style that they own and I have yet to hear any artist, musician, or group that comes close to J5’s overall originality, specific to them. Their music is dynamic, yet you still know it’s Jurassic 5 bumpin’ some legendary music.

Some of their more popular songs are “What’s Golden,” “Quality Control,” and “Freedom.” Many of the members had decided to go off to pursue a solo career or elsewhere due to basically what seemed like a band member divorce of musical disagreement (creative differences) in 2007. A minute amount of haters could say they were happy to see this happen because it was news that fans didn't want to hear. That's life though... especially in the music business.

I wonder what will come out of this unexpected reunion? Will we get a full nationwide tour or possibly a new album? The unknown and anticipation is killing me. I don’t even know what to expect, but can only hope and assume that this will be a successful run, long or short) for Jurassic 5.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Opio, Pep Love, Equipto, White Mic, etc. will make April stress free in Denver

San Francisco and the Bay Area has a rich and vibrant underground hip-hop scene, giving music the gift of bands like Hieroglyphics, Souls of Mischief, Bored Stiff, E-40, and Too Short to name a few. These underground hip-hop legends have helped pave the way for a variety of musicians as well as influenced millions of listeners’ worldwide. The true underground hip-hop scene is/was a national movement with a variety of collectives and artists turning on the basement lights and sound.

The ‘Stress Free Tour’ will kick off in Sacramento, CA on March 14th. Get ready for witty music with a message (not in some strange preachy way or overly political) to invade your city or town. On April 7th the tour will be stopping in Denver, CO at the Roxy Theater. The epic mix of artists playing what they love - beats, samples, lyricism, and performing, and it will be a show that are going to be one to look back on and smile every time. Denver loves their hip-hop, so be sure to get tickets while they are available. You won’t want to miss this one, especially if you are a hip-hop head.

The ‘Stress Free Tour’ will also be featuring headliners Opio (Souls of Mischief/Hieroglyphics), Pep Love from Hieroglyphics, Equipto, White Mic from the Bored Stiff collective, and a variety of other San Francisco artists. They will be getting down and after seeing Hieroglyphics at the outdoor venue Statebridge near Steamboat, CO – I know it is going to be fun as hell. Watch out for the San Fran underground to take on Denver and the rest of the cities by storm.

Opio and Equipto recently came out with a collaboration record called Red X Tapes That is their second album together. Equipto’s spit flows smoothly with Opio’s style. I’m excited for everyone on the ‘Stress Free Tour’ to sell out the venue in Denver and to go see some amazing live music.

Opio was also the brains behind making the ‘Stress Free Tour’ come to life. Cheers to you Opio, I need some good live music in my life. It’s been a minute. I am stoked for some incredible hip-hop to hit the streets of should be too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Grieves brought attention to what many overlook - "I Love this"

Courtesy - Rhymesayers Entertainment
“Singers and Musicians are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, they face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every note, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life - the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because musicians and singers are willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that melody, that lyric, that chord, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Singers and Musicians are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”
- David Ackert, LA Times

This is beautiful and I'm sure many, including myself, are able to take what Ackert is saying an apply it to various artistic mediums and/or facets in our lives. Music and musicians need to come back to working hard as Ackert explains, because they want to do what they love, aren't silly puppets being pranced around for some money and fame. That's not what it's about. For me, music and writing is about the passion and determination to succeed. Sure, the bills need to be paid, but being able to stand up on stage every night isn't something that just gets handed to you. If you don't want to put in hard work for what you want in life then that's on you and you alone.

I have much respect to all those who work hard at what they love and for what they want out of life as well as having the courage to do it. Even when you get knocked, throwing the boxing gloves back on is inspirational in itself and the average person may tap out of the match, but pushing through the negativity and turning it into something positive shows the dedication to your art, business, yourself, and whatever else it may be. 

Thank you Grieves and David Ackert for bringing this up because these types of things need to be talked about more. Anyone can call themselves a fan, but have you tried placing yourself in the shoes of a musician? They are just people and go through some of the same things as everyone else. Think about that next time you rip an artist apart for just one song or one album that you decided to label and didn't like. Think about it when you are at a show and who you were going to see didn't live up to your expectations so you decide to completely write them off when they could just be having a bad night...Stop hearing and LISTEN - I would like any of the 'know-it-alls' out there to get your ass up on stage, make fans happy, stay true to yourself, work endless hours on albums, get little sleep on tour, and then face extreme criticism from people who have no idea what they are talking about. Think about it... 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Three Legged Fox kicked off their tour in the Mile High City

Copyright - Peyton Owen
The Philly based indie rock band, Three LeggedFox, kicked off their U.S. tour in the music-loving city of Denver, CO. TheBlue Bird Theater was a great spot for them to play two nights with the Michael Jackson cover band Who’s Bad? It is a small and intimate venue, but has a great sound and feel to it. The crowd sure was getting down with the band.

Before the show, I had the opportunity to speak with 3LF drummer, Kory Kochersperger. That was only after I had a few issues getting inside with my camera…no press pass…Oops! Once inside, Kory and I sat down upstairs and just started talking as if we had been friends for a while and didn’t even realize it. He was a genuine person without some crazy ego - always a good quality for a musician.

“It’s funny when people go ‘Oh Kory listens to this band’ so they just have to love it and they don’t even know who I am. It’s kind of pathetic…I don’t really get it either. It’s like why are you so interested in what I listen to. Go listen to what you like,” Kochersperger said bluntly. I got a nice laugh from this because he thinks of himself just as every other person out there, which he obviously is.

The fans
As we continued to share stories and our thoughts on music today, Kochersperger made it clear that without his band’s fans and their support, 3LF would not be where they are today. He talked about how each member of the band  make an effort to connect with their fans and talk with them after their shows. This was refreshing to hear from a musician who is doing what he loves, and at the same time is a regular guy who works another job. He just so happens to be in a band, which takes a ton of courage to do, especially because 3LF tours almost non-stop.

According a fan, Laura Dowd, who went to see 3LF the night before, “They are all super chill guys. I talked to them for a bit after they played and we just were shootin’ the shit. We even talked about snowboarding and how they were going the next day.” Dowd was quite excited, but never ‘star struck’ because they seemed to have treated her as a friend.

Fans are obviously a major force in helping musicians gain exposure and a wider audience. 3LF seemed to figure that out pretty quickly, but at the same time enjoy meeting new people and hearing what their fans have to say. Not everyone is going to have the same impression of them in different cities.

Kochersperger went on, “It’s great getting to know about our fans in different cities. Denver has a much different scene that is really cool to play in. This was only our second time here and it’s great. Everyone seems really chill.”

Touring isn’t for the weak and the fakers
3LF decided to start their tour off on a two-night run with Who’s Bad? in Denver, then moved on to Aspen, Tulsa, etc. from there. Kochersperger explained how hard they work to expand their audience by touring almost non-stop.

“We tour a ton. It gets tiring, but then I remember I’m not just going to stop something I have worked so hard for over 6 years.” Said Kochersperger. “If I quit every time I was tired then all of this would be a waste of time and effort, so why stop now?”

Kochersperger’s perspective on the intense work he has put into Three Legged Fox, doesn’t only pertain to musicians, but life in general as well. His thoughts on 3LF and different types of music were very interesting to hear because he is a musician, and has a better understanding of what it is like to be analyzed under other people’s musical microscopes.

“We were torn apart by critics and fans on how our last record wasn’t enough like our previous ones. I think people just use the Internet to talk shit after only listening to a record once or for the first 30 seconds of a song. It’s like, do you have anything else better to do besides hide behind a computer when the person may have no idea what we are about?”

Kochersperger also had a nice rant on his frustrations with people who believe what they are read without giving his music a listen. “I try to ignore it, and even if someone decides to talk about us negatively and evoking an emotional reaction, they are still putting our name out there.”

3LF has a unique sound and according to Kochersperger, each band member has his own genre that he really loves. For Kochersperger it seemed to be some “depressing folk music.” I laughed as we continued to talk about the different fads and phases of music, until it was time for 3LF to get up on stage and play their hearts out.

Starting the night off with some good tunes
As Three Legged Fox calmly stepped out on stage, the audience immediately started cheering. I could tell they were there for 3LF because once the band got situated they went straight to rocking hard and the crowd followed suit. The sound resonating through the speakers was powerful and passionate, so you knew they meant business.

Seeing the band bond together on stage, comfortable and confident, fed off into the sea of bodies dancing and screaming. The bass player was a bit stiff, which was strange, but maybe he had hurt himself skiing that day or something?

Either way, 3LF killed it. They only played a 45-minute set, but each minute was worth it. They held their own and made the audience come alive, not just for the headliner Who’s Bad?, but for themselves.

“I like Michael Jackson, but I really went to the show because I love Three Legged Fox,” said Dowd.

Even though this was my first experience seeing 3LF live, they blew me away. If you weren’t enjoying yourself while they were playing, you should probably get your ears checked or maybe you went with the wrong people. Either way, this dynamic group of guys are going to stick around for a while.

As a result of the wide-ranging individual musical tastes of each band member, Three Legged Fox is an interesting combination of hard rock, indie rock, some reggae, and whatever else a person decides to label them. I can say it is some great music that people should open up themselves to.  Give them a few years or so and I bet they will be a familiar name in your music collection.
All Photographs Copyright - Peyton Owen

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jon and Roy take on the U.S. for their latest tour

Copyright - Billie Woods
“We have been together about 10 years now and we've released four albums, first one being in 2005.” Vocalist and guitarist, Jon Middleton of Jon and Roy, simply stated about the Canadian roots band, in his interview.

On shores of Victoria Island, Canada there isn’t just one band grabbing their acoustic guitars playing music on the beach, like the Current Swell. There is also a trio called Jon and Roy, who have made room for themselves on that same beach. It's amazing to see two bands that are such good friends, grow together in their music, travels, and the adventure that life is for them.

Originally a member of Current Swell, Louis Sadava ended up moving on to play with Jon and Roy with his bass in hand. Roy Vizer, the “Roy” of this grassroots, band plays the drums and percussion. Initially it was just Middleton and Vizer, but the addition of Sadava seemed to have given their sound a boost. Both Current Swell and Jon and Roy, have grown side by side musically, within the tiny music scene in Victoria explained Middleton.

“Our relationship with Current Swell goes back a ways.  Lou, our bass player now, was actually Current Swell’s original bass player up until their third album, Protect you own. We've definitely grown up into the music scene together.” said Middleton.  “We both started our bands in Victoria, B.C., and here we remain because it’s such a wicked spot.  The ocean, the town, the people, everything. There's a good vibe here and it comes out in both bands’ music, I'd say.”

When listening to each band, I can hear the similarities that sometimes come with starting and moving forward within the same music scene, as in Victoria. However, Jon and Roy lean more towards a grassroots, folky making it more of a  stripped down style, but I don’t want to generalize their music and sound. They are one of kind when it comes to placing them in a genre. The same goes for Current Swell, which leans more towards reggae, surf rock style of music. Both continue to cross paths.

Middleton told me how the two went on each of their first tour experience together and that that they “…became good friends, bummed around Australia for a time, playing music and enjoying the sun.” He went on to explain, “Now we’re both doing our own things with our music so we don't play together as much anymore, but we try to book one show a year still where we both play, and we try make it a special one.”

Both bands are now on a mission to break out into the American music scene, in order to build a up a wider audience. I never thought I would actually say that, but somehow they didn’t trickle down as much as they would have liked to, and become well known bands in the U.S. Currently, Jon and Roy are focusing on spreading their music to those just south of Victoria, particularly the west coast and even Denver.

“We definitely have some fans in the states but they are few and spread out.  We would like to 
change that though.” said Middleton. “Ideally we'd like to start moving southward. We've always heard great things about the music scene down your way [Denver], and would love to visit the Rocky Mountains down there and see some of the towns and cities.  I've travelled the west coast of the U.S. many times and have always loved it, but never Colorado.”

Hearing this come from Middleton put a nice smile on my face. It’s not like the band is sheltered from the states, but my impression is that they haven’t had the opportunity to tour as much as they would have liked to here. I believe that Jon and Roy would bring a unique sound to Denver that music lovers would embrace and enjoy to see live.

Middleton went on to say, “Its always a great experience to travel away from home and come to a town you've never been, meet new people and introduce them to your tunes.”

Copyright - Sam Thom
Middleton and I’m sure the rest of Jon and Roy, is very personable and clearly loves what he does a musician. He truly cares about the fans and giving them something to hold on to. I felt I was talking to the real Jon Middleton, not any kind of ego or fake persona. That is such a special quality for artists’ to have and doesn’t come around as often as it should.

Similar to Current Swell, it is as if Jon and Roy’s lyrics are about traveling and quite personal.  This is another great quality for a band to posses because the listener isn’t held back by songs about ‘getting’ money and hoes…’ which is music that will be forgotten. It fades away, but bands like Current Swell and Jon and Roy, will last through time because of the honesty they possess.

“People who have never listened to our music before should know that we play and create our music from an honest place… we make it and play it only because we love the art and feeling of it.” said Middleton.

Seeing Jon and Roy live will be one to remember. I believe it is going to be a great show because judging a band purely based on their studio recordings is na├»ve, and doesn’t allow people to get the full vibe and dynamic of the band. Jon and Roy play stripped down, raw music that has passion behind it, which those who go to see them live will be able to feel. Get ready for their stop in Denver as they are already on tour in the U.S. Jon and Roy will surprise you with how genuine they truly are.