Tales Of An American Folk Musician On Tour This Fall


THE WHITE BUFFALO play Saint Rocke Sep. 18 and KAABOO Festival Sep. 20

It is safe to say that 2015 has been a very good year for the Oregon-born, Huntington Beach-raised singer/ songwriter The White Buffalo (aka Jake Smith) as he heads into the fall performing at Saint Rocke on Sep. 18 and KAABOO Festival in Del Mar on Sep. 20.

“There are a few spots that I have played that the band will be hitting on this tour but never headlined, especially in the South, that I am excited to close out the night, this time around,” Smith said regarding the upcoming tour.

On Aug. 21, The White Buffalo released his third studio LP on the Unison Music label, Love And The Death Of Damnation. Smith’s original work on the song “Come Join the Murder”, featured as the season closer for FX’s hit show “Sons Of Anarchy,” is in the running for a 2015 Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

“There are all styles of songs (on the new album). There are dark songs and this is the first time I really channeled some feel-good songs that don’t go dark,” Smith said. “Some songs still express my tongue-in-cheek, literary way I write, but at the same time, they kinda feel good.”

With a voice of an American folk icon, The White Buffalo has found a home between grace and grit, but wanders to both sides of the spectrum in heart-crushing extremes through his storytelling style of music.

“On the new album there are some songs that are not necessarily based in religion but spiritual songs explaining that you don’t necessarily have to look to the heavens for saviors,” Smith said. “Those people can be a part of your life, those people that are close to you and help you from day to day.”

Just before he left on this fall’s tour, Smith wrapped up a 10-part documentary-style online series with leading guitar products manufacturer Ernie Ball called “Capturing The White Buffalo: The Recording of an American Songwriter.” The series documents the making of Love And The Death Of Damnation in an alluring and cinematic way.

“My manager also manages Slash (Guns N’Roses) and initially I thought I was just getting free shit (from Ernie Ball) because of the management’s affiliation with Slash, not that they were fans of mine,” Smith said. “The relationship with Ernie Ball has just kind of grown through the years, which turned into the collaborative thing we decided to do with this last record, and it has turned out pretty cool.”

New Jersey Indie-Pop Duo Brick+Morter Return West


BRICK+MORTAR play Satellite Jul 31 photo: Meredith Truax

Brick + Mortar is an indie-pop outfit from Asbury Park, NJ consisting of school friends Brandon Asraf (guitars / vocals / programming) and John Tacon (drums / programming). Currently the band is on another cross-country tour showcasing new songs off their third EP, “Dropped,” and will be making a stop in LA at the Satellite Jul. 31.

Tacon and Asraf have truly been building a movement with their first two EPs, “7 Years in the Mystic Room” in 2010 and “Bangs” that followed in 2013. The pair has been on the road spreading a message of empathy, positivity and self-motivation. They have been playing gritty, bright, yet sinister, witty alternative pop for inspired audiences throughout the country and they will continue to do so on this summer long national tour happening now!

Coming off of the release of their “BANGS,” the group has been on the road relentlessly, opening for bands like Imagine Dragons, Icona Pop and Jimmy Eat World, as well as performing in the summer festival circuit at mainstays including Made in America, Loufest and Lollapalooza.

Concert Guide Live snagged Asraf from his busy tour schedule for a moment to find out how the duo formed and how they bring so much sound to their live shows.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: How did the band form and was there a particular style of music that brought the group to first jam together?
BRANDON ASRAF: I met Tacon in eighth grade. I saw him perform at the eighth grade talent show and it was a scene straight out of “Billy Madison.” There were kids standing on chairs, cheering for him as he tore down the cafeteria with a drum solo. One day walking home together, he told me to play the bass and the rest is history, yo.

CGL: What equipment is required to make the music sound bigger even though it is a two-member group?
BA: Our Roland Spd-SX is essential to our live performance. We learned to write our first songs on the original Spd-S. We didn’t use computers, just that unit. We learned it inside and out! We put everything we can’t play live into it without playing the instruments. We are all about performance and sweating with the crowd. Our show is an experience.

CGL: Was the group always a duo?
BA: Yes. We have always been two buds. 😉

CGL: On the group’s Facebook page for genre of music it says, “Anything You Want it to be;” What kind of sound influences the group the most?
BA: We are all over the place, really. Hip-hop and Reggae influence our sound in a strange way. We are just both suckers for anything that has tons of low-end. Pretty much anything that moves us in some sort of way, whether it be lyrical or musical.

CGL: What song on the latest LP was the easiest to write and record? Which was the most challenging?
BA: “Train” came together really easily. I had the lyrics in my head for a while. “Dark Skies” was elusive. We wrote it many times over before settling on even a basic demo. I tend to at the last moment change things drastically song wise.

CGL: What song is the most challenging to pull off live?
BA: “Hollow Tune” because I belt the whole chorus and the note is kind of high for me. For Tacon, it’s “Old Boy” because he is non-stop ripping the drums like a cartoonish maniac.

CGL: What was it about the song “Train” that drew the group to the star-crossed lovers theme in the video?
BA: I showed the EP to my good friend, Caitlin Smith (I have shown her everything we’ve released since our second Maxi Single). I also told her I am trying to make videos for as many of the songs as I can. She emails me back telling me she has wanted to do a music video and already has an idea from listening. That idea was the whole “Train” video pretty much scene for scene! It was like fate or something. At first, I was nervous having never done a video like that, but in the end I could not be happier about how she brought a new feel to the love song I wrote.

CGL: What is the group looking forward to on this tour? What are some new stops and returning clubs that appeal to the group on this tour?
BA: We are excited to play in Tampa, FL because we have never played there. We love Denver as a performance spot for many reasons, both emotional and recreational. 😉 We can’t wait to hit LA again; you have always been good to us!

CGL: Where does the duo see the band’s plans over the next two years?
BA: More records, more touring, more pizza, more music videos, more funny moments and more watching shitty movies we buy at gas stations… Look up “Goobers,” it’s worth it.

Yukon Blonde Tour New Album With Two SoCal Dates


YUKON BLONDE play The Satellite Jul 16 and Soda Bar Jul 17 Photo: Olivia Jaffe

Canadian pop and indie-rock group Yukon Blonde celebrate songs off their new album with a U.S. summer tour playing two SoCal shows at The Satellite on Jul. 16 and The Soda Bar on Jul. 17.

The band, originally from Kelowna, British Columbia, are on tour showcasing the band’s third LP, “On Blonde,” being released via Dine Alone Records.

According to lead vocalist and guitarist Jeff Innes, he and drummer Graham Jones starting making music separately back in their high school days but did not officially decide to make music together for a few years after graduation.

“Graham and I met in high school where he was playing in a few bands and I was making electronic music by myself, we hit it off back then with our music,” Innes said. “A few years after high school we kind of lost touch, then I was at Coachella (music festival) and the friend I was with told me that Graham had just quit his band, so we called him from the festival and decided we would start making music together when I returned, and we did.”

Yukon Blonde’s current line-up is Innes, Jones, Brandon Scott (guitar / vocals), and James Younger (bass / vocals). According to Innes, Scott was the most unlikely member to join the group at first.

“Brandon was playing in a metal band at the time, and if you saw Brandon he is the most harmless looking person, you would not imagine him to be playing in a metal band,” Innes said. “We went to one of the band’s shows and thought Brandon was such a good guitar player that we decided to steal him from his current band. So we went to his work, which was at American Eagle in the local mall, and asked him to join our band. Originally, he said no, then a week later he called us and said he had quit his band and wanted to join our band.”

Their big break in Canada came from the band’s prior album “Tiger Talk” that was released in 2012, which got the band nominated for the Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year in 2013. Still the group credits more of its success to playing a few years at Austin, Texas’ South By Southwest Music Festival, which they feel got them noticed by the music industry and indie music fans at the same time.

“We sort of hacked into the South By Southwest music festival gradually climbing up to bigger and more showcases over the years,” Innes said. “The first year we played about five shows, the second year we played around 14 shows. There is such a great energy at South By Southwest for new independent bands.”

“On Blonde” was produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Dan Mangan, Sleepy Sun) and mixed by Tony Hoffer (M83, Beck, Foster the People, Air, Depeche Mode), and is getting noticed for its shimmering pop-production and Yukon Blonde’s trademark hard-hitting choruses.

Revered for their energetic live performances, Yukon Blonde will be touring with Chappo this summer and looking forward to branching out of North America bringing the songs off their new record to a worldwide audience.

“On this summer’s tour, I am looking forward to playing a festival called Way Home Festival in Ontario with acts like Kendrick Lamar and Neil Young,” Innes said. “It is like one of those big, big multi-genre festivals. There are also a few little festivals that are very, very small that I am looking forward to playing and hanging out at. I am looking forward to going everywhere on this record tour. It would be great to play Japan… and Mexico City, that would be so cool to play.”

Brooklyn DJ Duo Holy Ghost! Mix All-Vinyl Set At Silo

Holy Ghost!

HOLY GHOST! mix it up at Silo in Solana Beach Jul 12

In support of their latest recording “Work For Hire,” DJ duo Holy Ghost! have been taking over the dance floor with their all-vinyl DJ sets. They will be heading out on a handful of new tour dates keeping the disco alive with a stop at Silo in Solana Beach Jul. 11.

Over the past eight years, Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel have gone from being DFA records’ rising sons to triple-threats: indefatigable DJs, inventive musicians and go-to producers recruited for remixes. Trying to pin a specific sound to this musically adventurous group — whose dance-floor prowess frequently elicits the words “disco,” “synth,” and “pop” — would be a disservice to the sundry projects they take on.

The new album injects new life into the work of everyone from Cut Copy (“Hearts on Fire”) to Blood Orange (“You’re Not Good Enough”) to Katy Perry (“Unconditionally”).

Concert Guide Live spoke with the pair on their new album, the makings of a good mix and their latest little tour.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: Do you consider yourself more DJ’s or a band?
HOLY GHOST!: The two things are totally different for us. We love DJing and also love playing our own music with our band. It’s kind of fun to go back and forth between the two ways of performing and not be stuck as one thing.

CGL: How does your background in hip-hop play into the music you make now?
HG: Well, we grew up making hip-hop, like a lot of producers who were teenagers in the late 90’s. But even then we were digging through old records to find samples and coming across all sorts of amazing disco, electronic and library records that would later influence what we do today.

CGL: How did Holy Ghost! form?
HG: Our old band ended, and this one began. We’ve been playing music together in different configurations since we were about 10.

CGL: When doing a remix album, how did you choose what songs to include?
HG: We picked our favorite remixes and tried to license back as many of them as we could. In the end we got all of our favorite work on there.

CGL: Where did the band’s name come from?
HG: The Bar Kay’s song ” Holy Ghost” – we needed a name, that song came on, Nick was like, “Well, what about that?”

CGL: What is the most random and/or craziest experience the group has encountered on tour?
HG: Haha, I don’t know. We have toured a lot, but for the most part we are really boring on the road. There’s a lot of fun to be had but a lot of the time you’re just in transit, playing a show or trying to get some sleep in a van.

CGL: What, if any, upcoming projects is the duo currently working on? Any surprises for fans to look out for?
HG: We’re back in the studio in NYC, so hopefully we’ll have something to share soon.

Phoenix-based Calabrese Brings Solid Rock And Roll To Slidebar


CALABRESE plays Slidebar Jul 9, The Garage Jul 10, Mission Tobacco Lounge Jul 11

Steeped in a hard rock swing, brash punk energy with a healthy helping of death rock, metal band Calabrese will be working three southern California stages at Slidebar Jul. 9, The Garage in Ventura Jul. 10 and Mission Tobacco Lounge Jul. 11. These three musical brothers — Jimmy Calabrese (vocals / bass), Bobby Calabrese (vocals / guitar,) and Davey Calabrese (drums) — established a diehard following and garnered immense critical praise outside of the traditional system, emerging as underground luminaries from their native Phoenix, AZ.

While on a west coast tour in support of their album, “Born with a Scorpion’s Touch”, the group collectively agreed on the direction of what would become the sound of their latest recording, “Lust For Sacrilege.”

Concert Guide Live caught up with Bobby just before their upcoming tour to talk about the new album, and what it’s like to be a family band.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: When did all the brothers know they wanted to be in a band together? Did you all play music a lot as kids?
BOBBY CALABRESE: Jimmy and I used to play in all sorts of other bands, we were all into music but kind of did our own thing. I think it finally came to us not finding what we were looking for in other bands that we joined forces and did our own thing.

CGL: Is there any other family member that is musical or just the three brothers?
BC: Ah, it’s mostly just the three of us, but I’m sure our dad or mom or sisters could bang on a tambourine if need be.

CGL: Does the group’s genre of music echo the styles of music all three members listen to?
BC: I think so. We like so much shit it’s crazy. I grew up on punk rock and heavy metal, I think that’s what mostly shines through, but you never know. I have a lot of surf influences. I really dig Dick Dale and I like Bauhaus and Slayer.
It’s just all over the place. I can’t speak for the other guys but I’m hoping my varying influences come out in all our records. I’d hate to sound like one specific genre for all of eternity. But hey, that’s for the listener to decide.

CGL: Who writes most of the music for the group? Do you come up with songs together or write individually then bring it to the rest of the members to work on?
BC: It depends; I think a lot of our songs are written by me or Jimmy bringing a riff to practice and we all work on that until it becomes a song. But mostly we just skip the in-between and I’ll write most of a song and show it to the other guys to learn. From there it takes a life of it’s own and it really becomes a Calabrese tune. I like to write a lot of our songs by myself alone, though. For whatever reason, solitude helps the writing process.

CGL: What is touring like as a family?
BC: It can be grueling and tiring and annoying, but I suppose that’s similar to every band, ya know?

CGL: What song is the group’s favorite to play live and which song is different live than its recorded version?
BC: I’m not sure, I think we all like rocking the newer stuff live these days, if only because it’s more fresh and fun for us to play. Like “Lust For Sacrilege” or “Down in Misery.” Live, nothing’s TOO different but we really get into the moment and get crazy and have fun, so most of our songs are usually played at a supersonic speed. Hey, it happens, what can you do? It’s pretty much guaranteed that if you come to a show you’ll notice that all of our songs on record are really, really faster live. I remember seeing an old VHS tape of a live Ramones show when I was younger, and every song was ten times faster than the original on record. I loved it. If it’s good enough for The Ramones, it’s good enough for us.

CGL: What band has the group shared the stage or tour with that they were most excited to play with?
BC: We really liked our short tour with Tiger Army! Those guys are great dudes and it was awesome sharing a bill with them. I think it was a perfect match. Hopefully we can do it again soon.

CGL: What can fans expect to hear at the Slidebar show in Fullerton?
BC: New stuff, old stuff and in-between stuff. And all played with real energy and real attitude and LOUD. Get ready for solid rock and roll, ladies and gentleman of Fullerton.

John Butler Brings His Eclectic Folk Rock To OC Fans


JOHN BUTLER TRIO plays Humphreys By the Bay Jul 2 and The Observatory OC Jul 3

American-born Australian award-winning singer, multi-instrumentalist musician, songwriter, record label owner and producer, John Butler returns to southern California playing songs off his latest recording “Flesh and Blood.” He will be performing with the John Butler Trio at Humphreys By The Bay Jul. 2 and The Observatory Jul. 3.

As front man for the John Butler Trio, his grooves are roots and jam-band inspired sounds formed in Fremantle, Perth, Australia in 1998.

“I grew up in a small town called Pinjarra and there wasn’t a lot of folk music, so everything I have been inspired by has been outside of my local region,” Butler said. “I, like a lot of people, thanks to technology, have been getting influences from anywhere and everywhere, anything that turns us on. Whether it is listening to Jimi Hendrix or Bill Monroe or listening to a classical violinist or a breakbeat house DJ. Whatever works I am going to be influenced by, like Woody Guthrie to Easy-E. My music kind of reflects that.”

This is the trio’s final tour backing up the songs off the new “Flesh and Blood” album.

“We wanted to reach all the places people want to hear it,” explained Butler. “We have already been touring North America with this album, but the country is so big that we can pretty much tour there year round and still not reach every place.

“I see our new album to be an evolution in some way, whether lyrically or musically or both, and as a songwriter I am trying to get deeper to the core of the story and the core of the emotions.

“In the early days I used to write about how I felt angry about this or that, and I want to more explore underneath the anger. What does the anger come from or what does the anger look like or feel like or smell like or taste like? Just get a little more visceral with the song writing.”

Butler’s Trio made up of Butler (guitar / vocals), Byron Luiters (bass) and Grant Gerathy (drums / percussion), has recorded five studio albums including three, which have reached No. 1 on the Australian charts: “Sunrise Over Sea”, “Grand National” and “April Uprising.” His recordings and live performances have garnered awards from the Australian Performing Rights Association and Australian Recording Industry Association.

“Byron and Grant, whom I am playing with now, are extremely versatile musicians,” Butler said. “The people I play with are usually far better musicians than I am as far as how much they can do and how many different styles they can play. They are hard-working musicians.”

According to Butler, his music germinates inside him. When he presents his music to the other musicians the songs are like toddlers that grow as they are recorded and played live. By the time the songs have a world tour behind them, they are like adults ready to be in the world on their own.

Butler plays harmonica, didgeridoo, drums, lap-steel, banjo and amplified acoustic guitars and his custom-made, 11-string Maton guitar. To achieve his unique finger picking style, Butler uses long, pointed fiberglass fingernails.

Butler is also an active advocate of promoting peace, environmental protection and global harmony causes throughout the world. He has supported The Wilderness Society and the Save Ningaloo Reef campaigns in his homeland.

“I want my fans to be aware that Now is the only thing we have and that the past and the future virtually don’t exist and that life is good so get the most out of it while you can!” Butler concludes.


JOHN BUTLER TRIO plays Humphreys By the Bay Jul 2 and The Observatory OC Jul 3

Brutally Beautiful Supergroup Hellyeah Joins Slayer As Mayhem Tour Headliners


HELLYEAH joins Mayhem Tour with stops in Chula Vista Jun 26 and San Bernardino Jun 27

When you put players such as Mudvayne lead vocalist Chad Gray, Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, Bloodsimple bass player Kyle Sanders, Magna-Fi rhythm guitarist Christian Brady, and former Pantera and Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul into one musical arrangement all you can say is “Hellyeah,” which is what these musicians appropriately titled their group when they officially formed in 2006.

Playing this year’s Mayhem Festival, the group is excited to be on the road with metal heavyweights like Slayer, King Diamond, The Devil Wears Prada, Thy Art Is Murder, along with up and coming acts like Whitechapel, Jungle Rot, Sister Sin, Sworn In, Shattered Sun, Feed Her To The Sharks, Code Orange and Kissing Candice. Mayhem Festival is slated for 26 stops to run from June 26th through Aug. 2 and will be making two Southern California stops in San Diego on June 26 and San Bernardino on June 27.

Guitarist Maxwell took some time out of the group’s busy tour schedule to tell Concert Guide Live about the band’s new LP, “Blood To Blood”, and what they are most looking forward to as a part of this year’s Mayhem Tour.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: What is different about playing in this band (Hellyeah) that sets it apart from the other bands each member has played in before? Has being a collective of musicians from other popular hard rock bands been helpful to the bands success or an obstacle?
TOM MAXWELL: Well it’s a different energy all together. Anytime you get people together despite their backgrounds it’s going to be different. We share the similarity in the fact that we are heavy but I think we display a much deeper emotional side to us than what we have done in the past in our other respective groups.

Yes it has been helpful. Each of us brought a devoted fan base with us who truly embraced us from the beginning. Plus the press and/or colleagues in the business got really behind us.

CGL: How often did the group come together to jam before deciding to commit to a new band?
TM: It only took one week of jamming and recording when we realized we had something special. Myself and Chad of course had already written and recorded music that captured our desire to be in a band together.

CGL: Did the group set out to make its latest recording “Blood for Blood” its most metallic album to date or did it just get heavier as it evolved into the final project?
TM: It just happened naturally as it should. After the turmoil that we had went thru leading up to the writing and recording of “Blood For Blood” there was a lot of creativity pouring out of us. Personally this is the record I always wanted to make with HY. I love the extremities of being emotional/melodic and being over the top/heavy. Brutally beautiful as I like to say.

CGL: What song on “Blood for Blood” has the craziest or most unexpected story behind it from forming the first melody to the final recorded version?
TM: “Say When” for sure. It all started with Vinnie’s opening drum riff. He played it for me and said, “Put something on top of this.” So I just followed his beat and came up with an insane poly rhythmic guitar riff to race pace with it. The song just explodes from there.

CGL: What song from all the albums is the most challenging to play live and why?
TM: “Soul Killer” off of BFB. The guitar playing is extremely challenging and all the verses are down picked. No fucking around playing that song. Sink or swim!

CGL: Why did the group decide to work with a producer on “Blood for Blood?” Describe the first few meetings between the album’s producer Kevin Churko and the entire band.
TM: We decided to work with a producer because we wanted someone to help us take our music to a different level. Being a self-produced band you’re very biased and close to the music. It’s impossible to look at it with an outside perspective when it’s your own song. We didn’t really have any meetings; we talked on the phone and had faith in him from the start. Obviously, and gratefully, our gut feelings were spot on.

CGL: What is the group most looking forward to as one of the main headliners of this year’s Mayhem Festival Tour?
TM: I’m looking forward to seeing White Chapel and King Diamond the most.

CGL: Which band or bands is the group most excited to share the stage with during the festival?
TM: All of them.

CGL: Are there any hobbies the band members have outside of music that would surprise your fans and was a surprise to the other members of the band?
TM: I can’t speak for the others but I’m really into my home life and raising my boy. I love boating, cooking, growing a vegetable garden and pretty much laying low. It may sound boring or average but it’s what I love and that’s all I need outside my band.

Local OC Punk Rock Originals Take To The Observatory Stage

IGNITE fires up The Observatory Jun 26 photo: Joe Foster

IGNITE fires up The Observatory Jun 26 photo: Joe Foster

Ignite is not just another punk rock/hardcore band from the OC, they aren’t a “here today, gone tomorrow,” flash-in-the-pan type band. Their here-to-stay talents will be displayed at a special summer kick-off touring show at the Observatory on Jun. 26.

“We are really excited to be playing a home show,” Brett Rasmussen (bassist) said. “We have a lot of great bands joining us at this show for a great ticket price.”

Founded in 1993 by Zoli Teglas (vocalist) and Rasmussen, the group has been keeping its music rocking fans for more than three decades. Now joined by the musical talents of Brian Balchack (guitar), Nik Hill (guitar), Craig Anderson (drums) and Kevin Kilkenny (guitar), Ignite has just completed their fifth album with honorary member/producer Cameron Webb who has produced many of the group’s past studio recordings.

“Our producer, Cameron Webb is like another band member at this point,” Rasmussen said. “He just knows our sound and how we like to approach our studio-recording experience.”

Their commercial-breakthrough album was released on May 30, 2000, on TVT Records, and was called “A Place Called Home”.

On one of their headlining shows at Persistence Tour 2009, the band announced they were working on a new record; however, soon after, the Pennywise website announced that front man Teglas had joined Pennywise.

“We are all really supportive of Zoli joining up with Pennywise,” Rasmussen said. “That gave us all a chance to branch out into new projects. Once Zoli took a break from touring with Pennywise, we were back playing together and writing new material that has lead to our latest studio record.”

Fans go crazy for Ignite all over Europe, Australia, South America and in their native US, and that’s why the band lives on the road, bringing the fans what they want and what they need.

“We recently returned from our first Southeast Asia tour, which was a great experience for both the band and our fans there,” Rasmussen said. “Our music is still reaching new places around the world, and we are excited to get out there and play anywhere fans want to see us.”

Ignite are a rock band with hardcore roots that supports a series of environmentally and socially conscious groups (such as Doctors Without Borders, Habitat For Humanity, Sea Shepherds, Project Blue Sea and Earth First). Ignite has donated the proceeds from a series of vinyl seven inches, ten inches, and split releases to these causes.

They’ve released three albums; A Place Called Home (2000), Past Our Means (1996), Call On My Brothers (1995), Our Darkest Days (2006) and their latest, as yet untitled full-length out soon on Century Media Records worldwide.

“We have known the crew at Century Media Records in Germany for some 15 years now and they had recently expanded in the U.S. with a new A&R team, so it seemed like the perfect time to re-sign with them and get into the studio,” Rasmussen said.

According to Rasmussen, this new album is one to look out for with a much more rooted punk rock edge than prior works. Teglas’ power-metal voice still holds true to the signature Ignite sound.

Scandinavian Jaga Jazzist Passes Through So Cal On US Tour


JAGA JAZZIST play Teragram Ballroom Jun 16; photo Anthony P. Huus

Norwegian eight-piece Jazz group, Jaga Jazzist, kicks off their North American tour this month with a show on June 16 at Teragram Ballroom highlighting songs of their latest release.

Jaga Jazzist’s main songwriter, Lars Horntveth, left Norway and moved to Los Angeles. Inspired by the space around him, the size of the sky above him, the endless light flashing past as he drove round the city at night, he began composing the new suite of works, which would become “Starfire”.

Jaga Jazzist is led by sibling trio; Lars, Martin and Line Horntveth. The band formed in 1994, when Lars was only fourteen years old. In their two decades of existence they’ve released five studio albums, one live album, five EPs (CD and vinyl), one live DVD and now a box set.

Other members of the 8-piece band would come visit Lars in L.A. and lay down their contributions in his apartment/studio before returning home to Norway. When the basics of the album were in place, he went back to Oslo to finish the record in the professional studios that the band had built and furnished over the years.

Concert Guide Live chatted with Lars recently about how the group formed and what it’s like playing together while living in different countries.

CGL: Who came up with the band’s name and what is its meaning?
LARS HORNTVETH: I think it was my brother Martin and former bandmate Ivar. It´s a bit hard to explain, haha. It basically means “a chased (or hunted) jazz musician”. That´s the short version. I was 14 years old at the time, I guess we would choose another name today.

CGL: What inspired the three brothers to start playing music together? When did they decide to form a band?
LH: We played in a bunch of different bands before we started Jaga. We wanted to start a band where we could write music for a bigger group. We were very inspired by the Norwegian big band Oslo 13 at the time. That was a modern jazz band. With Jaga we wanted to make all kinds of music, from rap to gipsy music to contemporary jazz. It was all over the place on the first album. It took us a few years to find a style that was more our own.

CGL: What other genres of music does the group like to play other than jazz?
LH: We basically try to make music that is difficult to put in a genre. That has always been our goal at least. I guess our music is a combination of jazz, electronic music, rock, prog and classical.

CGL: What is touring like with an eight-piece group? Talk about the other band members and how they joined the group?
LH: We have toured with this band for over 20 years now. Five of the members have been in the band from the beginning. We´re like a family. It feels like we´ve known each other forever.
The three newest members have been in the band since 2005 and 2009. Erik Johannessen and Øystein Moen both went to the Jazz University in Trondheim, Norway. Marcus Forsgren came from the band The Lionheart Brothers, which we were big fans of. All of the band members have their own bands and solo projects.

CGL: How is Norwegian Jazz different from other parts of the world? Does the group blend any ethnic music into their sound? If so, which songs are most inspired by Norwegian regional music?
LH: Norwegian jazz really took a left turn around 1969 when Manfred Eicher and his label ECM started to release and record with Norwegian legends Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdahl, Arild Andersen, Jon Balke etc. The style they went for was more folky and less based on traditional American jazz. That started a quite unique Norwegian sound that most Norwegian jazz musicians are still inspired by.

I don´t think we blend in ethnic music so much, but we definitely have some melodies here and there that are more Indian than say Norwegian.
In general, I would say that the way I write melodies are quite melancholic or nostalgic. For many people that sounds Scandinavian. I don´t disagree.

CGL: What inspired you to move to Los Angeles and is it hard to keep making music as a group while being so far away?
LH: I was taking a vacation in Los Angeles during Christmas in 2012. I liked it so much that I decided to stay. I started making the music that ended up on the album and after about a year I invited some of the guys in the band to come over and start recording. This album is made in a different way than we have done before. We didn´t rehearse before we recorded and basically treated the album as a big remix project. Most of it is recorded in Los Angeles, the rest in Oslo in various studios.

CGL: Has the group worked with many Norwegian producers in their recordings? Which producer or producers helped their recording process and why?
LH: We have mostly worked with producer/sound engineer Jørgen Træen. He´s definitely our favorite producer and a big influence on our sound. We see him as our 9th member. Jørgen helped co-produce this album with me and also had a lot of inputs when we mixed it in his studio in Bergen, Norway.

CGL: What is the group most excited about during this US tour?
LH: We are super excited to play the new music and also play some bigger venues and festivals than we have done before. Also we are bringing a quite spectacular light show. It´s gonna be very psychedelic, haha. Hope to play long shows as we have at least 3 hours of music to choose from.

CGL: If there was one jazz musician the group could share the stage with or collaborate on a song with, whom would it be and why?
LH: Our mentor in jazz music has always been Jon Balke. It´s about time we do something with him. Absolutely the most original pianist and composer out of Norway.

Saxman Brings New Mixes Of Old School Soul To Newport Beach Jazz Festival

Boney James

BONEY JAMES plays Newport Beach Jazz Festival May 30

Saxophonist, Boney James, will be making Newport Beach Jazz Festival his first stop on his upcoming tour. James will be showcasing new tunes from the newly released recording, futuresoul on Sat, May 30 along with other talent scheduled for this year’s festival taking place at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, CA.

“I have just really been digging the sound of new technology with some old soul influences,” James says. “I wanted to create my own style, kind of like a stew of old and new.”

This four-time GRAMMY-nominated musician and multi-platinum selling saxman continues fusing his love for vintage soul music with a mastery of modern production techniques; futuresoul is proving to be another genre-bending work on the heels of his 2013 GRAMMY-nominated album The Beat.

Newly released on May 4, futuresoul has already debuted as the #1 jazz album on both iTunes and Amazon.

“The forms I’m working with are rooted in my early influences,” explains James. “Artists like King Curtis, the Stylistics and Earth, Wind & Fire all come to mind. But recently I’ve been listening to contemporary artists like Tinashé, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding, and I’m inspired by the sound of their recordings. The production is so cool and evocative.”

His 15th CD, futuresoul contains ten original songs produced and written or co-written by James. Released by Concord Records, the new album features vocalist and Mint Condition front man Stokley on “Either Way,” a collaboration enabled by Twitter.

“Like my recent duet with Raheem DeVaughn, I was able to meet Stokley on Twitter and send him the music for this track,” says James. “He wrote the brilliant lyric and sent me a finished vocal track all via email!”

Other featured performers include rising-star trumpet player Marquis Hill (2014 winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition) on the plaintive “Far From Home” and the title-cut “futuresoul,” is co-written and co-produced by neo-soul mainstay Dwele. Also, the tracks “Drumline” and “Watchu Gon’ Do About It?” are co-written/co-produced with Jairus Mozee (Anthony Hamilton, Robin Thicke).

“This album really did just flow in its creation,” said James. “Each record has it’s own characteristics of its own sound. I have not made any of these melodies before.”

Following early pro gigs, (including sideman stints with Morris Day, the Isley Brothers, Randy Crawford and Teena Marie) James released his debut album, Trust, in 1992. Over the following 23 years James has racked up sales of more than 3 million records, four RIAA gold albums, four GRAMMY nominations, a Soul Train Award, nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and 10 CD’s atop Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart. In 2009 Billboard magazine named him the #3 Contemporary Jazz Artist Of The Decade (trailing just Kenny G and Norah Jones).

The Newport Beach Jazz Festival takes place Fri, May 29 – Sun, May 31 at Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1107 Jamboree Road. For tickets or more information on the festival visit http://www.festivals.hyattconcerts.com.