Groove Jones – “First Time” …a report by Red Writing Hood

March 31, 2010

Groove Jones:  First Time

Red Writing Hood for Scrapplehead, March 2010

I remember the first time I saw Groove Jones.  It was a First Friday, and I had just enjoyed a great early SanSoucie/Carn gig at what is now Bistro 19 (then, it was MB’s).  Hmmm…not even midnight…had heard a lot about some Groove Jones band that does First Fridays.  Home or check-out this Groove Jones thing?  Okay, it’s only ½ block away; if they Likert below a 3, I leave with very little lost. So, I walked to what was then The Harp and Fiddle and opened the door to an absolutely PACKED venue with about 1.5 million musicians on-stage.  And did I mention it was PACKED?  Every single person was dancing—but the word “dancing” really  understates the type of movement that I saw, and “every person” connotes a sense of separateness.  Gettin’ down to da funk as an agglomerated collective is as close as I can come to verbalizing what I saw.  And what I heard?  Even given my propensity to the verbose, there is no way to describe (regardless of the amount of words used) what I heard that night in York.  I can describe the feeling that I had, however.  In the mid-to-late 80’s, I saw Fishbone for the first time in a Harp and Fiddle-sized venue in Philadelphia (yes, first time seeing them as in a venue that small!).  There were about the same number of people there, as well.  Music different; aesthesis same.

Both are among the most memorable, “surprise aha” music-moments I’ve had.  I had no idea what I was walking into on either occasion.  But wow.  And in my subsequent interview-interaction-experience with Rod Goelz from Groove Jones (below), again, I had no idea…

Definitions for “groove”  include words like “impression” and “imprint.”  Although these are cited as nouns (referring to physical grooves such as those on a vinyl record into which a stylus or needle might fit), it occurred to me that when used as verbs, “impress” and “imprint” are much more akin to my experience with that night’s “groove.”

Time with Rod Goelz:  Unmetered Groove

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Rod Goelz from Groove Jones.  And as with the full, 7- to 8-piece band Groove Jones (as in the description regarding verbing the “groove” nouns that is explained above), “impress” and leaving an “imprint” apparently can happen even when time is spent with even a single member of the band.  But more on that later…

Not only did I get the chance to learn a little more about Rod; he also filled me in on the latest-breaking updates for those of you jonsin’ for that groove…

The main Groove Jones focus right now is to “work on new sounds,” Rod began.  “What?!?  I loved the old sound…Yikes,” I blurted out before the filter that controls unvocalized responses had a chance to activate. Rod went on to explain that in 2006, Roy Frush III (percussion) and he had started playing together with an emphasis on the rhythm section.  “There will be more emphasis on vocals,” he added, “and the band will be working on the instrumentation around the voices of three singers:  Ralph Real, Unique, and Joe McDowell.”

“Okay, I’m sold…sounds like there’s just going to be more Groove Jones to love,” I started thinking.

To understand the new sound toward which the band is moving, let’s get caught-up with some of the 7-8 band members (and yes, the specific number of band members has noticeably less than metronome-like precision in its exactitude) and the influences they each bring to the evolving sound of Groove Jones.  First, there’s a new musician (on keyboards and vocals)…and songwriter…and producer:  Ralph Real.  Ralph brings the musical influences of Stevie Wonder, Anthony Hamilton, Musiq Soulchild, and John Legend to the Groove Jones sound.  Along with Ralph, there are two other singers:  Joe McDowell and Unique (formally of the Screaming Daisies).  Like Ralph, Joe’s influences include Stevie Wonder and Musiq Soulchild.  Additionally, Take 6 and Miles Davis have had a great impact on Joe’s music.  Unique’s influences include Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Unique’s own mother.

And Rod’s influences?  Well, here’s where things started to become a bit unmetered…or at least less “common”…unstructured…a bit less precise…and much more fun.

So after he effortlessly listed the influences of the other band members, I was simply unable to get equally specific information about Rod, from Rod J.  Up to this point, the information Rod had been giving to me—and the way in which it was being given—was just perfect for my hardly-noticeable Type-A (and admittedly, a wee bit, ever-so-slightly controlling) nature.  Until now, all was methodical, balanced, able to be anticipated:  he provided information on one person at a time…a list of specific influences of similar length for each person…it was easy to picture this whole discussion being written-up effortlessly…and then it happened:  Rod went out of what might be analogous to common time (and please take notice to the fact that exactly FOUR specific musicians were listed for every band member except Rod…coincidence?), and he wasn’t about to be courteously prompted OR aggressively coerced back into it.  Damn these sol-fa-type folks (you know who you are) who are now throwing meter into the equation?  It reminded me of the first time I spent at least a few minutes to finally determine that the measures in the refrain in Deep Purple’s “Perfect Strangers,” for example, alternated from 4/4 to 5/4.  There’s this strong off-kilter feeling that you can’t pinpoint initially. So, you kind-of ride it out with measured patience until it all comes together again in a new, unexpected way.  Hard to keep up with at times…but that challenge is part of where the fun begins.  Certainly, playing bass is in Rod’s soul.

Although painfully unbalanced for a Type-A to write this way, I can at least share the more general (and notably comprehensive) influences that I was able to find out about Rod (after all, it’s not all about mi J).  Rod’s into old-school funk, Motown, 60’s R&B, New Orleans Funk, rock, and jazz.

In the spirit of Groove Jones working on a new sound, “the band is also working on doing more originals,” Rod added.  With Groove Jones’ assortment of musical talent, their diversity of influences, and a progressive vision, one can only imagine the possibilities…especially if the Groove Jones we’ve known has merely been a precursor–a hint of the potential that has yet to come to fruition.

The other issue on which the band is focusing is to play at larger venues in metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.  BUT—before we have to worry about any considerations involved with seeing Groove Jones that exceed walking/driving a mere few minutes—they are continuing to play in Harrisburg and Lancaster.  And better yet, currently, you will find Groove Jones every First Friday in York at Tailgaters Grille & Drafthouse from 8.00 to midnight.

The biggest challenge with Groove Jones?  Can you imagine “working around 8 people’s schedules to practice and play?”  Pulling that together certainly would take someone with an uncommon, metronome-like precision for details and the savvy to know when to just turn the thing off.

More fun:  when finishing-up at the coffee shop, I got Rod’s Actual Listening Listing. “In this order,” he noted, watching me take notes to make certain his disclosure of these details was, in fact, properly sequenced J: “Lemon Meringue” by Fishbone; “Fried Grease” by Greyboy Allstars; “I Bet You” by Funkadelic; and “People Say” by The Meters.  (Hmmmmm…Fishbone reference AND the inclusion of “People Say” by…a band called “THE METERS”…again, coincidences?)

And one Did Ya Know:  Rod’s been playing mandolin (self-taught) for 5-6 years.  Rod said, “I heard Sam Bush and wanted to play.”  He “started learning bluegrass ‘fiddle tunes,’ but has since adapted ALL of my influences–blues, jazz, folk…James Brown Mandolin…” is what he calls it.  Current plans are for Rod to attend the Fist Cap’s open mic on Wednesday, March 24 (which begins at 10.00) to accompany Blues Keith on the mandolin. This is going to be COOL.

A final note about Rod—several of his songs are on <www.myruralradio.com>.  Check ’em out; especially a perhaps-surprise called “Mother Nature’s Blues.”

Reminder: Groove Jones is at Tailgaters Grille & Drafthouse in York every First Friday, 8.00 to midnight.  For additional information including directions, please go to http://www.tailgatersyork.com or call them directly at (717) 741-1159.

* * * * *

A special thanks to The King and Beaver Cafe—thanks Stephen!–for their space, support, and added fun in making this interview possible.  Thanks, too, to Shane Speal for his guidance, encouragement, and availability in his already-challenging schedule.  Again, a shout-out to myruralradio.com, and, of course, thanks to all the Groove Jones folks; Rod, follow your bliss.

Note: if using or referencing this work, please provide the following citation (and just to cover my bases, for any of you writers out there, yes, this citation format looks dated; I’m working on getting a style guide fewer than five years old. And, yes, we are using MLA even though electronically posted; please appreciate the actual writing done with as close-to-a-Royal as possible):

Mummert, Amy L. “Groove Jones: First Time” and “Time with Rod Goelz: Unmetered Groove.” 18 March 2010 <http://www.scrapplehead.com>.

SPECIAL CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT – Scrapplehead St. Pattys party with Purgatory Hill!!!

March 8, 2010

The future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades! This Wednesday, we’re bringing in Purgatory Hill, the amazing gothic Americana blues duo featuring pAt mAcdonald, former lead singer for TIMBUK 3. This is a FREE show (21+) at our favorite little pub, The First Capital Dispensing Co. in downtown York.

We’ve postponed the usual open mic festivities for this week to bring in Purgatory Hill. Fans of bands like Morphine, 16 Horsepower and Old Crow Medicine Show will love these guys. It’s gritty, groove oriented blues rock, stripped down and gin soaked. They could be described as Timbuk 3 – meets – Tom Waits. Hear their music at http://www.purgatoryhill.com

Shane the cigar box guitar guy opens the show at 10 with his blues and primal rock and Purgatory Hill follows soon after.
OH, AND TOOTS IS SERVIN’ CABBAGE AND POTATOES FOR JUST A BUCK A BOWL!!! GO TOOTS!

Time: March 17, 2010 at 10pm
Location: First Capital Dispensing Company
Street: 57 North Pershing Ave (on the corner of Philadelphia and Pershing)
City/Town: YORK
Website or Map: http://firstcapitaldispensing.com
Phone: 717-854-1714
Purgatory Hill reviews:
“HELLFIRE PHILOSOPHY AND MERCILESS RHYTHMS… LEADS US WILLINGLY TO THE PLACE WHERE NO ONE GETS OUT UNSCATHED.”
-Margaret Moser, Austin Chronicle

“SERIOUSLY SWAMPY AND ELECTRIFYING RIFFS, ARMED WITH NUTS-AND-BOLTS INSTRUMENTATION PERFECT FOR ITS STRIPPED-DOWN, AMPED-UP APPROACH TO ALT-BLUES”
– The Onion

Build your own Vaudeville cigar box fiddle

March 8, 2010

Shane just discovered a historical set of cigar box guitar plans from 1920. Plans are now posted on Scrapplehead’s sister site, Cigar Box Nation.  Go ahead and download your copy! www.cigarboxnation.com

Red Writing Hood spotlights Dave SanSoucie

February 23, 2010

York Music Scene: Dave SanSoucie

Another quick report by Scrapple-journalist, Little Red Writing Hood

Dave SanSoucie has been a tremendous influence on shaping York’s music scene into what it is today and it seems that the York music scene has changed a great deal since he arrived here 25 years ago.

Having established himself as a musician in Europe, Dave SanSoucie moved to York, Pennsylvania in 1985.  According to Dave, “original acts had trouble getting work in the mid 80’s.  That slowly changed in the 90’s—and now it seems to be what the York public and bar owners prefer (for the most part).”

“[It seems to me that] York, in general, is a bit behind the times with the advent of streaming audio, WXPN, satellite radio, and so on.”  Or are we?

SanSoucie continues, “satellite radio, wxpn, streaming music etc will be huge influence in york within 5 years.”

As a word of advice for up-and-coming strummers, Dave suggests buying the best equipment you can afford to buy.  He says he didn’t know much about gear when he started, but learned that to sound really good, you have to buy good equip.  “Go find someone you want to sound like talk to them.  What speakers?  What mics?  Do they use?”

As far as recording, he learned you need a lot of processors and yup, more good equipment.  “Take time to listen to the music in the same room, then go behind the glass and make it sound that way.”

DAVID BROMBERG LIVE IN YORK THIS SUNDAY – BLUES JAM AFTERWARD!

February 23, 2010

The Susquehanna Folk Music Society presents

David Bromberg

Sunday, February 28, 2010
Concert 4:00 pm
at Yorktowne Hotel

ADVANCE TICKETS:

Logo: Brown Paper Tickets
Buy tickets online at BrownPaperTickets.com »
or call their Live 24/7 Hotline: 1-800-838-3006

David Bromberg

Logo: Downtown York Inc

An American original: amazing multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter.

“He has such control of his audience that he can, at one moment, hold it in his hand with a tender, touching yet funny anecdotal song, and then set it romping and stomping with a raucous bit of raunch. He is electrifying.” — New York Times

Inspired by the music of “The Great Folk Scare” of the 1950s, David Bromberg began studying the guitar at age 13. He enrolled at Columbia University intent on a career as a musicologist, but Greenwich Village’s lively coffeehouse scene was more absorbing than college. His extraordinary guitar picking and exceptional stylistic range brought him to the attention of many other musicians: Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, John Hurt, the Reverend Gary Davis, Tom Paxton and Chubby Checker are only a few of the notables who sought Bromberg out as a back-up artist for recording. In all he has played as a sideman on over 100 albums.

After a solo career spanning most of the 1970s, he dissolved his band and moved to Chicago, where he became a violin maker and settled down to raise a family, playing only occasionally. Recently he and his family moved back east, and he now has a violin shop in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. The shop specializes in sales and repair as well as bow and violin making. With his return to the East Coast, Bromberg fans can expect to see and hear a lot more from him.

Blues Jam after the Concert

Join the Blues Society of Central PA and the band “Acoustic Stew” for a free blues jam after the concert, downstairs at the OffCenter Grill. Acoustic musicians are encouraged to join in, and listeners are welcome.

Build your own cigar box guitar – FREE PLANS

February 16, 2010

Learn how to build your own cigar box guitar using the free plans at www.cigarboxnation.com .  You can have a new axe with only $15 in parts found at hardware stores.

Official Scrapplehead OPEN MIC starts this Wednesday night!

February 14, 2010

We now have an official open mic night!!!

Shane Speal takes over the First Cap this Wednesday (and every Wed.) for Scrapplehead’s Official OPEN MIC NIGHT! Expect Shane’s blues and primal rock goodness on cigar box guitars…but also expect to see some great jams by many other Scrappleheads.

Can we get some jazzers to show up?  How about some spoken word artists who would like to collaborate with musicians?

Let’s get creative!

Time: February 17, 2010 at 9:30pm to close
First Capital Dispensing Company
57 North Pershing Ave (on the corner of Philadelphia and Pershing)
York, PA
http://firstcapitaldispensing.com
Phone: 717-854-1714

www.FracturedAtlas.org – awesome resource site for artists

February 4, 2010

Joanne Riley from the Cultural Alliance of York gave me the heads-up on an essential website for artists:  http://www.fracturedatlas.org .  It contains info on grant $$$, health insurance for artists, networking and even liability insurance.  Check it out.  It’s based in NYC.

Artist Space available

February 4, 2010

I got to meet some great people from the Yorktown Craft Guild tonight.  The have an open studio available for jewelry and pottery!  Their website with contact info is http://www.ytcg.org

I was surfing thru their site tonight and I’m amazed at all they have to offer there.  I’m tempted to try out one of their pottery classes!

York Cultural Alliance ROCKS!!! A report…

February 4, 2010

I just returned from the artist meeting organized by the Cultural Alliance of York County and …wow!  What a great night. There were about 25 or 30 artists at the networking event.  Most of the evening was simply a brainstorming session with everyone contributing.  In other words, it was ELECTRIC!  Here’s a few bullet points from the meeting:

  • The Cultural Alliance has been known as the fundraising arm of nine local art/culture organizations.  However, they’ve been starting to reach out directly to the artists in order to help their community unite and prosper.  Do you know  how cool this is???
  • There has been some studies done on the York art and culture scene.   One recommendation was to highlight the industrial art of the area that go with our factory heritage.
  • Many artists talked about the need for communication with each other.  They’re looking for ways to collaborate, work together and start becoming more united as an art community…to attract other artists and to attract buyers.
  • Cultural Alliance president, Joanne Riley was very passionate about helping the local artists.  She kept asking, “what resources do you need?”   Artists responded with ideas ranging from media lists for press releases, a website that could feature artists, legal and business advice to even health care.  It was all out on the table and ideas flowed for over 90 minutes.

I’ll post more detailed notes in separate blogs in the next few days.  Things are looking up for the art/music/cultural community in York.  Let’s use Scrapplehead to start the chatter.  You need to network, use the site to your fullest advantage!

I’M PUMPED!

-shane