Night of Contemporary Music
A four-piece fronted by Courtney Jensen, Top Heavy is part Red Hot Chili Peppers’ hard-edged funk, part No Doubt-style accessibility (in the days before Gwen Stefani became a pop superstar), and part Led Zeppelin crunch. The band performs hard music with a penchant for the sort of 1980s-style power ballads that induce lighter waving in the audience. Top Heavy is a product of various school talent shows and sonic garage assaults – the latter complete with angry neighbors and at least one visit by Sacramento’s Finest for noise complaints. Entering their third year of live performance, Top Heavy is a band to be watched.
Courtney Jensen: Lead Vocals, Jeremy Briggs: Lead Guitar, Ben Keeler: Rhythm Guitar, Jordan Keeler: Bass, Travis Simas: Drums
Natomas Nighthawk Drum Corps
After the Natomas Nighthawk Drum Corps shook the foundations of the Crest Theatre during last year’s JAMMIES contemporary music night, there was no way we could leave them out of this year’s show. This large group of Natomas High School students marches and drums in perfect formation, beating thunderous tattoos and complicated rhythms. All the while, the drummers maintain serious, straight-ahead stares – never once looking down at the precision movements their hands are making. The students’ level of discipline is almost more impressive than the tremendous vibration created by their energetic playing.
Cymbals: Justin T. Hamilton, Robert M. Garcia, Jatoine Smith, Quads: John M. Myers, Nancy M. Ramirez, Joey Sanders, Christian J. Tuttle, Quints: Kenneth C. Brand , Ryan M. Burge, Isaiah Abdul Rahman, Joshua L. Rossman, Bass drums: Antonio Russo Arreguin, Christopher W. Eshenaur + Snare drum, Santos Gonzales, Claire June Kinsey, Dylan O. Knott, Elena Alderete Leal + Snare drum, Julian McCoy, Andrew Stephen Milton + Snare drum, Jeremiah Williams, Snare drums: Jeremie C. Elkins, Edwin R. Lugo Jr., Daniel M. Mitchell, Tamra A. Trotter, Michael Ward
Adrian Bourgeois may be the son of Brent Bourgeois, a noted musician and the former head of A&R for World Records, but he deserves credit for creating a name for himself. With allusions to the Beatles and the Beach Boys (think Pet Sounds era), Adrian Bourgeois knows how to fill a room with his pop-folk presence. The song “Juniper,” which is strongly reminiscent of the Fab Four, is so familiar that you’ll swear you’ve heard it before. At this year’s JAMMIES Battle of the Bands, Bourgeois’ performance of the beautiful, if not a little sad, song had the entire audience swaying back and forth with lighters in the air. At one point during the performance, an excited fan yelled, “We love you, Adrian!” To which the 17-year-old multi-instrumentalist responded, “I love my mother.”
It could be argued that acoustic-based jam rockers such as the Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, and Ben Harper are among the most important and influential forces in music today, particularly among younger music fans. Kyle Hernandez is a young singer-songwriter who captures these influences in his own music in a way that steps beyond the genre’s limitations. Playing percussive guitar that moves effortlessly between rock, pop, jazz, and funk, Hernandez’s performance style, songwriting, and vocals will all suit him well in pursuit of his musical goals—one of which is attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Sam and Aaron are brothers. Sam introduces Aaron to Kevin. Kevin introduces Aaron to Matt and Cody. Kevin, Matt, Cody, and Aaron could probably become extras on The O.C.—they have that clean (but not too clean) look that places them in the impossible space between football player and rock star—but instead they decide to form a band. It turns out that the band is good. They call it “Running Riot” and perform accessible KWOD-style rock for the masses. Their classmates at Christian Brothers High School like it and you’ll like it too. In their band bio they describe themselves as “normal guys,” but don’t hold that against them.
Cody Howle: Lead Vocals & Guitar, Matt Frye: Lead Guitar, Kevin Hayes: Bass, Aaron Trux: Drums
After catching a live performance by Eclectic, it’s hard to believe that the six-man jam band has only been together for six months. At the JAMMIES Battle of the Bands, the crew—including the recently inducted bassist Patrick Martin—put on an engaging, booty-shaking performance. The dance floor was packed, the audience was screaming, and the musicians were lovin’ every minute of it. At one point, drummer Greg Reed covered his face with a rag and continued to hammer away blindfolded, wowing the audience with his remarkable skills. Percussionist Delton Wingfield left his position at the bongo drums to marvel at keyboard sensation Ricky Center. Guitarist Michael Hart added texture to the show with his swirling guitar riffs and organist Trendon Barnes brought a vocal element to the show. Fusing elements of rock, pop, jazz, hip-hop and funk; these boys know how to bring it. The best part is, they have a blast while doing it.
Michael Hart: Lead Guitar, Patrick Martin: Bass, Trendon Barnes: Organ, Rickey Center: Keyboards, Greg Reed: Drums, Delton L Wingfield II: Percussion
Scribbling in the dark during bassist Patrick Martin’s solo, instrumental performance at the JAMMIES Battle of the Bands at Luna’s Café, an SN&R reporter emerged with the following notes: “Patrick flies from rock to thrash and back. He sounds like a band all by himself. The crowd yells, ‘Wow!’ and ‘I love you!’ The whole room vibrates. He moves through classic rock to classical music. Just watching his fingers – they’re a blur! Amazing! I had no idea what could be done with a bass.” It’s no wonder the audience called this Sacramento High School senior back onstage for an encore that night, or that the members of JAMMIES band Eclectic asked him to join their group right after the show. Music fans nationwide will be hearing from Patrick Martin. Catch him now, and you can say you saw him when.
A band that has performed at every JAMMIES since the event’s inception, Gooser approaches the stage with a professionalism, drive, and passion that infects audiences instantaneously. It’s a style that has netted them sold-out shows at local venues like the Underground, Capitol Garage, and the Boardwalk, and put them on stage at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre during the 2003 Vans Warped Tour. Poppy, contemporary punk rock with good looks, energy, and attitude make this band one of the area’s very best.
Daniel Espinoza: Vocals & Rhythm Guitar, Anthony Ricker: Lead Guitar, Seth Mattson: Bass, Derek Diesen: Drums
Familiar to previous JAMMIES-goers and, more recently, with music fans who frequent the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco, Sasha Tkacheff approaches her electric violin with a kind of frantic abandon. It’s similar to the way Jimi Hendrix, one of Tkacheff’s heroes, approached his guitar: part primal-scream therapy, part musical exercise, and part sonic experiment. Tkacheff’s project is to extend the use of the violin in the same way, by blurring the boundaries of classical, rock, and fusion with pieces like “Ziggy’s Bow,” a solo violin paean to none other than David Bowie.
To the untrained ear, Illuminate may sound like another hardcore band waiting to have a parental advisory sticker slapped onto the front of its album. The nearly indecipherable lyrics (most of the choruses are screamed rather than sung) could be about anything and the music is the type that inspires teenagers to throw their bodies into one another. It may come as a surprise, then, that all of the songs the band’s self-produced debut album, Simplicity, are about God. Yep, the band—which consists of Josh Reeves on guitar and lead vocals, Jesse Reeves on drums, Jonathan Reeves on bass and backup vocals, and Scott King on guitar—took its name from Matthew 5:14-16. The band cites other hardcore groups like Blindside, Spoken, Divine Romance, and Nails of Sovereignty as its musical influences. One look at the lyrics on the group’s Web site, www.1doorrecords.com, makes it clear who the real influence is.
Joshua Reeves: Lead Guitar & Vocals, Ryan Dehart: Rhythm Guitar, Jonathan Reeves: Bass, Jesse Reeves: Drums