By SCOTT CUNNINGHAM //
See them at the Wonder Ballroom on Thursday, November 19th.
When you are conceived in New Orleans, there's a pretty good chance that some spirit will come along for the ride. In the case of Brian J, front man and creative driver of the Pimps of Joytime, the guiding spirit was undoubtedly music.
“Music is in my soul, it is something sacred for me,” he explains.
Brian and the band bring their energizing groove to the Wonder Ballroom in Portland on Thursday night.
The band emerged while Brian was working on a new musical concept in his Brooklyn home studio. “Somewhere around two-thirds through the process, I decided going in this funky direction was the way to go. I wanted (the album) to be fun, a celebratory type of vibe,” he says.
Funky doesn't go far enough to describe the bands most recent album, “Jukestone Paradise.” It certainly is funky, but also contains huge, forceful beats derived from places like New Orleans, the Caribbean, and Africa.
“Jukestone Paradise” is the third release for Pimps of Joytime and pushes the project to a new level, in terms of style and extending Brian's comfort zone, particularly with his blend of lead and rhythm guitar. In some ways, the album feels like a massive jam session. Any track could easily be extended to a 15-minute jam live, a they probably are.
That's not meant to imply that the songs go meandering off course in some endless jam. Rather, the energy found in each track pulls each cut, and the album, forward, be it with drums or funky, New Orleans style rhythm guitar with lots of syncopation.
“When I started Pimps I was like 'this is my thing, this is my project.' It's a crazy endeavor that I keep trying to take higher.”
For the new album, part of taking it higher involved pushing the boundaries of what he had previously been comfortable with.
“I attempted to capture the live sound. A good portion of the record was recorded with the rhythm section live. I haven't done that much before. Normally, I create it like a painting. I start with this base canvas, then add a color here and a color there.”
Rhythm is embedded in everything about Brian, so it isn't surprising that his first instrument was the drums.
“Drums are a really good place to start, no matter what type of music you want to do, especially if you want to do rock. Starting with the drums was important for me, it made everything easier, understanding the rhythm.”
Being exposed to a wide variety of music early in life also helped shape him as a musician. “My father was very passionate about music. I'm definitely steeped in the roots of rock and roll and the great blues stuff. As a young person, I was deeply influenced by that,” he explains.
The picture of Brian that emerges today is one of an artist who is deeply connected with his craft.
“There's something sacred about the artist sculpting and getting inspiration. For me it is liberating to think of music in the same way. You always want to think of yourself as a creator.”
Duke Ellington famously said that there are two kinds of music: the good kind and the other kind. Extending on that idea, people recognize the good kind when it touches them, oftentimes in a spiritual way.
“Music tickles something inside me. It's like a musical g-spot. When you hear someone singing the blues, they hit a certain bell,” he says.
Pimps of Joytime bring their musical juju and funk to the Wonder Ballroom Thursday, November 19. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are still available as of this writing.