Alternative Nation’s Artists to Watch Showcase

AJ
AYRON JONES AND THE WAY

From: Seattle, WA

Biggest Influences:
Nirvana, Dr.Dre, Jimi-Hendrix, SRV and Michael Jackson

What’s your story?
From Ayron Jones: In 2010, I had the idea of putting together a band that featured members from Seattle’s inner-city. The idea was to capture the blues and soul tones of Seattle’s Central District and fuse them with that legendary Seattle Rock sound. In 2012, we caught the ear of Seattle Hip-Hop legend and Central District native, Sir Mix-a-lot. After attending a live show, Sir Mix-a-lot was so captivated by the band that he offered to record and produce our first album. In 2013, we released our debut album Dream, which was followed by extensive touring and appearances with legendary names such as, B.B. King,Train, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Robin Trower and more.

How would you describe your music?
From Ayron Jones: I would describe my music as Seattle Rock meets Inner-city soul, ‘Urban Rock’

What’s on tap?
From Ayron Jones: Right now I’m currently working on my next album, travelling, touring and getting ready for 2016. Amazon just released a video series on the band, we’re trying to sell out two local shows back to back for the first time at The Tractor and opening for Walter Trout next week

We’re slowing down on touring for the Fall/Winter to work more on the album. We plan to tour extensively
in the US and beyond in 2016.

Recommended songs:
My Love Remains, Boys from the Puget Sound, Take Your Time

Where can you find them?
www.ajandtheway.com, facebook, twitter

clifford
MIKE CLIFFORD

From: New York, NY by way of Allendale, NJ

Biggest Influences:
From Mike Clifford: I’m a huge fan of everything Van Morrison did in the 1970s. The writing, the singing, the sounds he got in the studio. All of it. Vocally I’ve spent a lot of time listening to great soul singers like Sam Cooke and Donny Hathaway. I love and admire how they can be so technically flawless and, at the same time, sing with such raw emotion.

Martin Sexton, a singer-songwriter from the Boston area, is another big influence. He’s written some beautiful music and he can do some things with his voice that I’ve never seen or heard another person come close to.

What’s your story?
From Mike Clifford: I’m an NYC public school elementary music teacher. I love my job, but it ain’t always easy. It requires a deep reserve of patience to do it well. I wrote a lot of the tunes on the new record during my lunch break at work. The process of writing and demoing new ideas just relaxes and centers me. It makes me a better teacher. And, hopefully, I get a few good tunes out of it.

How would you describe your music?
From Mike Clifford: My newest release, Among the Evergreens, came out on September 12th. Thematically I think the songs speak to the ups and downs of everyday living that we all experience. There’s a longing in there to regain some of the innocence that we inevitably lose as we get older, and a celebration of the love and simple pleasures that can be found along the bumpy road of modern living.

Sonically I was after capturing something a bit more raw and less polished than a lot of the pop music out there. We played the songs live, and there are mistakes in there. For mixing, we ran a bunch of the instruments through an old Portastudio 4-track with 1/4 inch tape to take some of the gloss and sheen out of the basic digital tracking that we did with Protools.

What’s on tap?
I just had a great record release show in NYC at Rockwood Music Hall. I’ve got a bunch of shows booked around the NYC area and I’m looking to book some stuff further out of town in the near future.

Recommended songs:
Mother of Mercy, Swept Away, Carry Me Home, On a Friday Night, Hey Hey Darlin’

Where can you find him?
www.mikecliffordmusic.com, facebook, twitter

Jaffe
MATT JAFFE AND THE DISTRACTIONS

From: San Francisco, CA

Biggest Influences:
The Talking Heads, The Clash, Elvis Costello, X, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons

What’s your story?
From Matt Jaffe: Jerry Harrison, the keyboard player from the Talking Heads discovered me playing solo at an open mic in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve worked a lot with him and he was the one who actually encouraged me to start a band. He helped shop us and he helped us record. He also really encouraged me to write more proactively and take it more seriously. He’s been a huge mentor and friend to me in navigating this weird business.

I had already ironically already met Jerry a few years back. I have always been a huge Talking Heads fan and I interviewed him for a school project. Several years later, he just happened to be in the audience. He remembered me from the interview he so graciously had granted me. I think he gets recognized plenty, but probably not as much by teenagers so I think I probably stuck out because of that.

How would you describe your music?
From Matt Jaffe: Rock is the stylistic core. I never write songs thinking it has to be a specific genre. It’s usually just whatever happens. We then arrange it based on the ensemble at our disposal. Overall, I would say rock is at the center, put there is a ton of country, punk and folk influences in there.

What’s on tap?
From Matt Jaffe: After opening for Blues Traveler through the fall, we will then be putting out a full length record. We are in talks for more touring and have a couple videos on the horizon as well. Basically just keep releasing music in all platforms and tour in support of it.

We have a really interesting relationship with social media. We have a big social media following that is largely separate from our fanbase that attends the show. That’s something we working on, how we get those that click like to come to our shows. We’ve been lucky having a few youtube videos that have gone somewhat viral. The past year though, we’ve really done a lot to build our audience through touring constantly.

Recommended songs:
Write a Song About Me, Stoned on Easter, I Wanna Be Cruel

Where you can find them:
Currently on tour with Blues Traveler, MattJaffeMusic.com, facebook, twitter

SBA
SOAPBOX ARMY

From: New York, NY

Biggest Influences:
Jeff Buckley, dredg, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Prince, Pink Floyd, Tool, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Sunny Day Real Estate, Alice in Chains, City and Colour, Bon Iver, Frank Ocean

What’s your story?
From lead singer/guitar player Dan Tucker: I’ve been a huge music fan my whole life, but was always the sort of bedroom singer-songwriter guy pursuing a different career path until I got the courage to try a few open mics. I can remember the first couple times I played my songs live, I had to sit down – I was sweating, my entire body was shaking and it was almost impossible to even hold the guitar pick. But I pushed through and eventually managed to assemble a band, record 3 albums, play countless shows and meet some awesome people from around the world through the music. It’s been incredibly rewarding. Point is, put yourself out there kids! Especially if you really love something.

How would you describe your music?
From Dan Tucker: Our new music is probably the biggest departure since the band’s inception. At least sonically. It’s still rock, but incorporates a range of styles, from electronic to folk to pop and blues/R&B. Whereas the past albums have taken (a majority of) inspiration and influence from other rock artists and singer-songwriters.

I think our tastes have changed and grown, and we’ve both consciously and subconsciously pushed the music in a different direction. Lyrically it’s still coming from a similar place as past albums. I tend to write about both personal things as well as things that affect me in some way out in the world.

What’s on tap?
From Dan Tucker: Next show is on November 13th at Black Bear Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We’re mostly focusing on our upcoming EP at the moment – hoping to have that out early 2016.

Recommended songs:
Mountain, Headlight, Stay Home, Cycle, The Tower, Say Something New

Where can you find them?
www.soapboxarmy.com, facebook, twitter

WR
WHITE REAPER

Where are you from?
Louisville, KY

Biggest influences:
The Cars, Ozzy Osbourne, the Ramones

How would you describe your music?
From lead singer/guitar player Tony Esposito: We just make music that we want to hear

What’s your bands story?
Tony Esposito: I met Ryan in 2nd grade and I met Nick and Sam in 5th grade and they’re pretty much my only friends

What’s on tap?
From Tony Esposito: We got a split 7″ with Daddy Issues coming soon, full US tour in November/December with together PANGEA, and after that we’ll do more records and touring.
Next show is Saturday October 10th at Northside Yacht Club in Cincinnati, OH.

Recommended Songs:
Cool, Pills, I Don’t Think She Cares

Where can you find them?
www.whitereaperusa.com, facebook, twitter

  • Billy

    Of this list i will check out more of soapbox army, but that Ayron Jones guy is awesome.