I will be honest, I really wasn’t 100% sure what to expect from this night of music. I’d heard that Jahman Brahman was an exceptional band, but I hadn’t heard any of their music or seen them live. I hadn’t heard any of the bands on the schedule for the night, as a matter of fact. Unknown territory is sometimes the best, though.
Before the show even started, I had a chance to interview the guys from Jahman Brahman. This turned out to be a perfect intro to the night. The band couldn’t have been nicer and shared some of their recent life on the road. (You can read the full interview here.) We wrapped up the interview and, having a little time before the show started, I grabbed a drink with an out-of-town friend.
As I made my way down the block back to 1904 Music Hall, Observatory was just starting to play. From the outside, they sounded really great, and I was excited to get inside and hear more. Just before I reached the door, though, I found myself talking with an employee of the restaurant next door, specifically about the band. “You never know, some nights, what kind of music will be coming through those walls.” As a true music hall, 1904 caters to all genres of music and some won’t appeal to everyone. THIS music though, “They can play this all night! I hope it never stops.”
A genre-fluent band, Observatory moved from jammy sounds, to caribbean flair, right into straight ahead rock. Their singer really had the right kind of voice to carry you through the entire journey, too. For me, they showed versatility through each song, and through the entire set. I was disappointed we only had 30 minutes with them and I will be going back out to catch them again.
I will be honest, I have listened to very little Latin music, except for what I might have heard on the radio, from time to time. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just something I don’t have much knowledge about. When it comes to my musical taste, I enjoy a wide variety of music, and it’s constantly expanding. There’s really not much I won’t give a listen. These guys reminded me that there’s always more genres that I can (and should) explore and enjoy.
Baba Caiman is about diversity. They draw their influences from several different parts of Latin America and blend them all together, with a healthy dose of multiple genres of North American music. They blasted right out the gate with style and strength. Every member of the band is noticeably talented, but Erika Weitz might be their secret weapon. She has a fierce onstage presence and a voice to match. They played several cover songs, my favorite being “Baracunatana.” It was an immediately catchy song that made you want to get up and dance. I will warn you, like Erika did us – do not ever dedicate this to someone you like. She warned us that it would not go over very well. I looked up the words and…well…I’ll let you look them up for yourself. Let’s just say I would not want anyone to dedicate it to me. I also really enjoyed their original, “Soy Caribe”, I believe, composed by their drummer, Andres Guzmán.
The third opener was Trail Diver, a band out of Jacksonville Beach. Their opening song was a great warning as to what they had in store for us. It invited the crowd into their world and was the beginning of our collective musical journey. Their use of electronics and live instruments really spoke to me. And then, another surprise, when they busted out a Talking Heads cover. They breezed through an excellent version of “Girlfriend is Better.” One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite groups. The lead singer, TJ Fortenberry, really did a great job; not a lot of people can pull off sounding like David Byrne. If you get a chance, check them out at their next gig, which is at Surfer the Bar in Jacksonville Beach on June 29, where they’ll be playing two sets, including a tribute set to Talking Heads.
By this point, I was exhausted from all the dancing, and we hadn’t even gotten to the main act yet! Fortunately, they started out with a real jammy, electronic song that kept everyone on the dance floor. By the end of the song, my friend had come in from outside. He said he heard it, as he was leaning up against the window outside and it sounded so good he had to make his way inside for more.
Jahman Brahman, based out of Asheville, is a really tight act. They describe themselves as ‘Shred’n’flow,’ which I think is an accurate description. Each of these guys are talented in their own right and they flow really great together. I tried all night to find one band or word to accurately describe them and fit them into a genre and there’s just no way to do it. They chose well when coming up with the band name (read more on this in my interview). My favorite song, as they warned me it might be, was “Life (Give & Take).” My notes for this song simply state “ALL the dance moves!” Which means, I put my notes away and got down on the dance floor, unable to hold back on what is their oldest, yet most popular song. Just like life, this song has apparently evolved and grown with them. “It takes and it gives, makes and re-lives, breaks and re-builds” – everything I look for out of life and music.
Like every show put on at 1904 Music Hall, the attendees were treated to exceptionally talented and diverse musical acts. The musical odyssey provided to all of us was superb, both during each band’s set, and throughout the night, as a whole. As a Jacksonville resident and a huge fan of live music, I feel blessed to have a venue like 1904 Music Hall. They really make an effort to bring in the big names as well as the rising acts, locally and from around the country, who represent a multitude of different genres and styles. The pairings of the bands also blend perfectly. I’ve been introduced to quite a few of my new favorites because they opened for some of my old favorites. They’re also consistently making an effort to introduce and support artistic aspects of music culture we’ve all grown to love. A great venue, worth all the love and support they receive, and more.