Monday, September 28, 2015

Jesse Malin- Outsider?

One of the great things about working merch for bands is the people that you meet. I have had the privilege of working with the best rock band on the planet-Marah- the past year or so. I have been able to travel around the east coast with them. This has let me meet many more people outside of Baltimore as well as see some great venues and hear some amazing bands. Marah opened for Jesse Malin at the legendary The Stone Pony in Asbury Park N.J. this summer. Not only did I get a chance to see this historic venue that Bruce Springsteen came out of, but I finally got to see and hear Jesse Malin. What a treat.

Jesse was born in Queens, N.Y. and fronted his first band Heart Attack at the age of 12. In 1991 he formed DGeneration which was a cross between glam rock and punk music. They put out three albums before disbanding in 1999. Even though he was known as a punk rocker, he wrote poetic lyrics and was looking for a new direction to take with his music. He teamed up with Ryan Adams, who had been a huge fan of D Generation, and produced Jesse’s first album The Fine Art of Self Destruction which was released in 2003. He has recorded six other albums since then. He has toured internationally many times and is a big draw in England. He has a following from artists as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, and Green Day.

The uniqueness of Jesse's work is his ability to combine his poetic lyrics with his pure rock and roll attitude. He has things to say. His newest album released this year is New York Before the War. The album focuses on how gentrification has changed the city. Corporations are building huge skyscrapers and to do this are buying up cheaper land and putting people out of their homes. He talks about how NYC has changed since his early days of punk rock and the change isn’t always good. Enjoy “Addicted” from his new album:

“Now they are closing down the bookstore and putting up a condo”. As you can see Jesse has something to say not only about the city he loves, but many American cities. He is a part owner in the Bowery Electric club in NYC. Jesse is trying to keep the spirit of independent music alive with his club. I have been there with Marah. I can vouch for Jesse’s live shows. A lot of energy from a very talented band. Jesse is a very down to earth person. He is kind, courteous and thoughtful. I got to help him when he came to Baltimore and he gave me an advance copy of his new album Outsiders due out in the Fall. Another killer album from this talented musician!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Snarky? Bring It On!

How have I missed this group?  Snarky Puppy, a once Denton Texas based, and now Brooklyn NY based collective jam band of roughly 40 outstanding musicians has been putting out amazing music since 2004.  If you enjoy funk, jazz, a solid groove, and the sound of true joy, their sound is for you.  They are led by the amazing bassist, producer and composer, Michael League.

Their first album, "The Only Constant" was released in 2006 on Sitmom records, while many of the band members were still attending North Texas University.  Between 2006 and 2015 seven more recordings were released.  2014 was the band's breakthrough year.  They received their first Grammy nomination and won their first  Grammy for "Best R&B" performance for Something.  JazzTimes named them “Best New Artist” and “Best Electric/Jazz-Rock/Contemporary Group/Artist” in their 2014 Reader’s Poll.

Snarky Puppy is a group of musicians enthusiastically committed to music education and community outreach. Working with groups like ROAM (Roots Of American Music) in inner city Cleveland and the Music Lab at Jefferson Center in Roanoke, as well as giving clinics at hundreds of colleges, high schools, and middle schools worldwide, the band has made a strong commitment to spreading their love of music and positive outlook to a young generation looking for something real to be inspired by.

This year they released, "Sylva" their first recording on a major label, Impulse!.  On this record the band shares the stage, literally as this is a live album, with the Netherlands based Metropole Orkest. This collaboration is not to be missed.  Check out this video of a complete concert featuring Snarky Puppy with Metropole Orkest.

 I love the mosaic of diverse musical styles and sounds brought about by these artists.  While they have 9 recordings to their credit they are still filled with creative ideas.  We can look forward to many years of hearing what these extremely talented Snarky Puppies come up with.