Relix - Music for the Mind
 
Artists Too New to Know 

1. THE JIMMY SWIFT BAND: Halifax, Nova Scotia
OCEANIC ROCKTRONICA
Originally known as P.F. Station and Fly Jimmy Swift, The Jimmy Swift Band is fronted by the decade-old duo of guitarist Craig Mercer and bassist Mike MacDougall. After a series of member changes, keyboardist Aaron Collier and drummer Nick Wombot have solidified the lineup that has become one of the most popular draws in Eastern Canada. While P.F. Station and Fly Jimmy Swift focused on aggressive, hook-laden rock and roll, The Jimmy Swift Band intermingles tightly composed rock with intense, spacey jamtronica reminiscent of The New Deal and the Disco Biscuits. The beauty of the quartet is that it excels at both styles, interchangeably comfortable playing fourminute rock songs or 40-minute improvised trance-fusion numbers. “Some fans and reviewers describe our music as ‘rocktronica,’ which I think does it justice,” says Mercer. This versatility has landed the band headlining slots at both Evolve and Shoreline Music festivals, as well as the most devoted fanbase in Eastern Canada. In addition, three fantastic releases, including 2005’s primarily instrumental, electronica-laced live recording Rebirth of Hooch, showcase the band’s musical prowess and tight, mature songwriting skills. The perfect band for those who love to think and dance simultaneously. www.thejimmyswiftband.com Shain Shapiro

2. THE NIKHIL KORULA BAND: Arcadia, CA
FROM PLACIDO DOMINGO TO DAVE MATTHEWS
When Nikhil Korula starts talking about making music, you can hear the passion in his voice. The singer/songwriter of the aptly named Nikhil Korula Band obviously loves what he does—which in his case, means mixing part Dave Matthews guitar licks and sax solos alongside world-music beats. It’s a long way from his roots as an opera singer. Korula used to sing with Placido Domingo, before he was introduced to guitar-based music in college—and subsequently learned about African music from a trip to Johannesburg and Kenya. “It’s where life began, and where life will end,” he says of his Africa trip. “That whole continent is so rich in culture and beauty, and it’s suffering right now. It’s such a dichotomy to see that.” Korula’s new album, The Way Things Work, displays the six-piece’s own western/tribal dichotomy, but Korula knows that his fans are won over by their shows. “When you’re recording, you don’t get that contact with people,” he says. “But when you’re playing live, you look out in the audience and you see so many different kinds of people. That’s the most unifying thing about what we’re doing.” www.nkband.com Jeff Miller

3. OSHE: Schenectady, NY
THE ALIENS HAVE LANDED
For Oshe, songs are still an essential part of the jamband experience. After landing in western New York four years ago, keyboardist Jake Savage, drummer Adam Ochshorn and bassist Ken Love began experimenting with a variety of improv-oriented styles before linking up with guitarist Will Senisi. Adding a cool, metallic edge to its sound, Oshe developed its alien-space rock style. Despite its ability to segue between songs and styles with ease, Savage believes songwriting is still the band’s secret weapon. “Jamming is one area of the music, but we really wanted to go in a more song-oriented direction,” Savage says. “We’re working on cutting down on excess playing and making sure all our pockets are super tight.” The results are documented on the group’s latest live album The Good Book, which owes as much to Rage Against the Machine as it does to Herbie Hancock. After clocking in another 150 dates next year, Oshe’s alien-space rock may very well make its way across the universe. www.oshe.org Mike Greenhaus

4. ROADSIDE ZOO: Ann Arbor, MI
WHITE KIDS GET FUNKY TOO
“We’re just a bunch of white kids, but we’re trying to play the funk,” Roadside Zoo bassist/vocalist Chris Ramos says with a laugh. And the funk has treated them well since Roadside Zoo formed in 2003. Combining their loves for everything from Phish and Medeski Martin and Wood to 311 and James Brown, Roadside Zoo (with fellow jammers Smokestack) has cornered the Ann Arbor jam scene, delving into everything from funk to old timey music and mixing in such choice covers as “Crosstown Traffic” and Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” at regular gigs at The Blind Pig and The Heidelberg. Since issuing its debut disc, Caleb Coolville, last year, the band has gigged with the likes of ekoostik hookah, Addison Groove Project and MOFRO in Ann Arbor, and has begun growing its fanbase with gigs in Indiana and Ohio, which no doubt helped the band score a coveted slot at the 10,000 Lakes Festival, a slot voted on by fans. “We were checking the website every four and a half seconds,” Ramos says of the day the winner was announced. “There were definitely a few high fives thrown around afterward.” www.roadsidezoomusic.com Wes Orshoski

5. THE BANANA SLUG STRING BAND: San Francisco, CA
RAISING FUTURE STEWARDS OF THE PLANET
“The target is to reach the children’s young minds and hearts,” Banana Slug String Band’s Doug “Dirt” Greenfield says of the group’s family-friendly music. For 20 years now, this self-professed “children’s ecological jamband” has excited and enlightened listeners of all ages with lessons of the earth, while musically touching on everything from rock to reggae and country to island. This year, the band issued its eighth disc, the entertaining, educational and awardwinning Wings of Slumber. In support of the album, the band has returned to the aquariums, schools, zoos, parks and theaters it calls home, but also hit High Sierra—their fourth year there—as well as String Cheese’s Horning’s Hideout. Says Greenfield, “The point is to try to have it be inspirational and encourage people to have a lot of hope and a lot of courage as they go on in their daily lives in being very ethical and very good stewards of the planet." www.bananaslugstringband.com Aaron Kayce

 
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Relix Magazine - WideSpread Panic
September/October 2006
(on newsstands 9/5)

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Also in this issue:
SCENE & HEARD
Mindful music from around the globe: The Beat, Soundcheck and Fragments

GLOBAL BEAT
The Brazilian Girls

PARTING SHOTS
Soul legend Sam Moore

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