Staxx Brother article from Santa Cruz

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The Staxx Brothers | 11.19 | Santa Cruz

By Team JamBase Dec 2, 2009 • 5:00 pm PST

By: Dennis Cook

The Staxx Brothers :: 11.19.09 :: Moe’s Alley :: Santa Cruz, CA

In funk music we find a pronounced commingling of elements, where rock, jazz and R&B bump uglies, moistened with soulful lubrication and powered by a church-like need to get folks onto their feet and out of their constrictions. When done right, funk hits one like happy lightning with a bumptious thunderclap that shakes our preconceptions and lights a fire in the pit of us. Not many contemporary practitioners truly honor the spirit of funk’s founding fathers – Sly & The Family Stone, The Meters, Funkadelic – but one finds the same refined, lusty, socially conscious clamor ringing loudly in Seattle’s Staxx Brothers, who further distinguish themselves by carving out their own mythology rather than riding the coattails of their ancestors.

Before the show, bandleader/lighting rod DP Staxx (aka Davin Michael Stedman) tested the length of his microphone cable to make sure he could reach the already retreating weeknight crowd. Coming up to a total stranger, he quipped, “I’m Davin with The Staxx Brothers from Seattle, and we came to party. We’re gonna play our fuckin’ hearts out.” The look in his eye and casual, confident tone announced he meant business, and the great leaping “hoo-rah” of opener “Westsound Union,” a glorious West Coast celebrating funk grenade, delivered on his word immediately. And then they never let up, not for a second, and this in spite of one of the most honky ass, hang back audiences Moe’s Alley has ever witnessed. How one stands still with a bunch of thrusting, jiggling jumping beans like the Staxx kids capering onstage is simply beyond me, but if the general lethargy of the crowd bothered them it never showed, and DP brought the party right into folk’s faces, busting down the proverbial fourth wall to force choruses and giggles out of some genuinely startled peeps. As an enthusiastic recipient of their back alley gospel flecked salaciousness, I found myself happily singing “Crimson & Clover” and skipping with DP when he scooped me up. One picks up on the same audience-bridging gusto one finds in Akron/Family and Surprise Me Mr. Davis, except much earthier in tone and more anxious to tweak your bottom like the Marx Brothers riding a bad ass bass line.

For just a few folks, they made a hellacious amount of sound. With just three instrumentalists – Chris O’Connor (guitar), Denali Williams (drums), and Shane Smith (bass) – the focus often rested on the four-strong vocal frontline of DP Staxx (MC, lead vocals, awesome, shameless clownin’), explosive, direct and darkly adventurous rapper DC Staxx (aka Amin Tony Hester), and The Staquelettes (comprised of Angela Rickard and Michelle O’Connor). However, the richness of their sound is a smartly designed, cleverly interwoven relationship between all elements, where tight, satisfying solos and perfect, humorous refrains arrive right on time, every time, and the whole thing rides like a cherry Caddy with top line hydraulics. Even the best of their funk contemporaries usually relies heavily on showy musicianship or obvious cover tunes to woo audiences, but Staxx has it all over most of them compositionally, vocally, and intellectually, and their showmanship puts them in the stratosphere of vintage P-Funk (on a no-frills budget – one dizzies to think what they might do if they had ‘flying saucer’ production money). Decked out in a Run-DMC tee, DP was balanced out by the curvaceous Staquelettes in “RIP JMJ” shirts, and it’s sly little touches like coordinated fashions and a growing stock of stage props, costumes, etc. that make time with the Staxx crew so hugely entertaining. Good music is wonderful but if one can have good music and a good time, isn’t that better still?

It would be enough that they’re so bloody fun and engaging live but there’s a deep bottom depth to their music. While not initially clear in the heat of a concert, Staxx’s studio work – 2008’s keenly shaped, Parliament-esque 12th Street Blues and 2009’s heady snapshot of the band in fiery action We Are The Blaxstonz (produced by Scott Colburn, who’s worked with Arcade Fire, Mudhoney and Animal Collective) – reveals slave narratives, close encounters with death, country and hard rock leanings, and way more as one commits to sussing out the nitty and the gritty in their grooves. And like Funkadelic’s ’70s recorded output, just as one finds they’re shimmying they often also discover that some succinct yet important socially or culturally aware nugget has suddenly lodged itself in their dome. Frequently while singing along, perhaps unconsciously, as happened to me a few times at Moe’s, one stumbles across a quality laugh AND something that gives one pause.

And this creative arc looks to be on a continuing upward spiral based on the new numbers they rolled out at this set from their forthcoming third album, Jungle Cats, which showed the band delving into even more diverse musical terrain but keeping things sticky sweet and dance floor ready.

Jungle Cats is our own mythology that we aren’t actually black, white, Puerto Rican/Creole, or even gypsy, but rather the last of the North American jungle cats, thought to be extinct, no longer running for cover – out of the shadows (of Bigfoot) and kicking ass,” says DP Staxx. “Plus we have crazy cool medallions, sweet ass capes, and a fur coat made of actual possum.”

Their lustiness, hell, their PLAIN OLD DIRTINESS is essential to their appeal. As the world grows increasingly more desiccated, ball-less, insular and individually focused, it’s heartening to find a band that openly and anxiously proclaims their love of pussy, nasty pounding, and other carnal delights that create connection, union, and vibrant, immediate sensation. Staxx is a post hip hop unit, and the street vibe is strong in this bunch. That often means they cut to the chase where others tiptoe, and more power to them on this front. It does not hurt that they have The Staquelettes, who undulate oh-so-winningly, moving hypnotically like some lost Motown sisters that might just give it up if you played your cards right. When I told the girls after their set that despite being a happily married man I had it bad for them both, they smiled and said, “Well good, that’s our job!”

From an absolutely blazing, tough as nails cover of “Red Hot Mamma” to irresistible new compositions like “Bad Neighborhood” and “Sugarwalls,” The Staxx Brothers reaffirmed funk’s relevance and potency in Santa Cruz. Going straight for that g-spot and doing The Running Man with zero irony, they poured out all they had in them, truly playing their “fuckin’ hearts out,” just as promised. Their apostolic character inspires healthy fanaticism for their cause. Their general delightful demeanor and blooming mythology, full of multiple nicknames and a strange, expanding geography, provide multiple points of entry, and wherever you come in the music is on point and rewarding. Theirs is a sound and mood that might stir you to dry hump the nearest GILF, toilet paper Timothy Geithner’s house, or some other form of beautiful mayhem. The Staxx Brothers are reaching out, anxious to take your hand and get into it, and they’re game for anything.

The Staxx Brothers :: 11.19.09 :: Moe’s Alley :: Santa Cruz, CA
Westsound Union, G Spot, Game Recognize Game, Red Hot Mamma, Roll Wit’ Me, Sugarwalls, Money, Bad Neighborhood, Back Home, On Ice, 1992, Name Dropper, Keep The Motor Runnin’, Jesus In Adidas, Detroit

Feral Children – Brand New Blood

We’ve started our fires in the forest and soon we will bring them to the cities with our second full-length album titled, Brand New Blood, to be released on Sarathan Records. Your first chance to buy the album will be when we release it for digital release on Tuesday, December 8th, and then you can go out and buy it in stores on Tuesday, January 19th…..

Not long ago, a group of genuinely backwoods dudes from the country moved to Seattle and began playing shows that burned with primal intensity and soared with pop sensibility. They called themselves Feral Children-a wholly appropriate name for a bunch of wild boys from rural Maple Valley, WA-and were ready to stake their claim in Seattle’s celebrated music scene. And when they arrived, they adamantly let it be known they would not be playing any of the following: “fucking California pop”; “classic rock covers”; or “shitty indie pop.”

Instead, Feral Children would be making their music-music from the Pacific Northwest. When they released their 2007 debut LP, Second to the Last Frontier, bassist Jim Cotton proudly stated: “It actually sounds like the first Northwest record that I’ve heard in 10 years.”

And it didn’t take long for them to catch the ear of KEXP FM and the local press, who jumped all over this debut with rare and unanimous praise: “will undoubtedly be heralded as one of 2007’s best” (The Stranger), “the future is now for the Feral Children” (John Richards, KEXP), and even “Perfect, absolutely perfect” (Seattle Sound Magazine).

In a city known for “hey-no-worries” politeness, there are countless interviews in which local indie rockers come off like glad-handing chimps toward their peers, often hiding their real opinions under a veil of niceness. The boys in Feral Children, however, have been ready to separate themselves from the pack and to claw their way to the top if need be, and they don’t seem to care who gets scarred along the way; “Yeah, we live in Seattle, but only because we have to.” In fact, they would prefer the soggier and stranger outskirts of town.

Luckily, they haven’t had to claw too hard to get attention; they’ve perked the ears of many on the strength of their music and the visceral ferocity of their live shows. And if Brand New Blood is any inkling, they’re set to garner even more acclaim, well beyond the hemline of the Cascade Mountain range they call home.

Like their last album, Brand New Blood contains music that evokes Feral Children’s home territory-sprawling, chilly, vast, strange, and, at times, violently stormy.

Comparisons have been made to another great Northwest concern, Modest Mouse, and that comparison is not without merit. But after listening to Brand New Blood, it’s obvious Feral Children share more in common with Modest Mouse philosophically than musically. The fact that they are from Maple Valley, WA, and not the big shitty of Seattle, has cemented their outsider status and shapes every lick of music they play. They also share that band’s mournfulness for nature-as natives of the Washington hills, these Feral Kiddies have watched Mother Earth raped time and again by greedy developers. They don’t approve of excessive wealth and would likely have no idea what to do with the wads of cash this album stands to earn them. To some, their perspective may be askew-but they are proud of it and don’t feel like conforming to anyone’s standards. Why should they? They’re from the real Washington State, so fuck you.

Take a listen to the album’s centerpiece, the colossal “Conveyer”, in which the band’s wonderfully wonky perspective of society is on full display. “This world is like a video game controlled by lonely boys with attention deficit disorder,” sings Jeff Keenan in a huffy manner that suggests total exasperation with everyday life. The song eventually erupts into full-throttle Arcade Fire-like pounding with Keenan frothing and barking the lyrics: “The milk calls the coffee black/ and Mother Nature’s getting so fat!”

Scott Colburn produced this album, and his ability to push a band into the stratosphere is all over Brand New Blood. This sucker is all about atmosphere; specifically, the Pacific Northwest woods featured in Twin Peaks or Twilight. In fact, the band doesn’t sound like they are playing in a studio at all. The cold blankets of synthesizer (“Kid Origami”), the tooth-clattering percussion that sounds like the breaking of bones (“Castrato”), the volatile guitars (“Enchanted Parkway”)-this album feels as if it were recorded along the banks of the Green River Gorge at 3 a.m. in the middle of January.

The legion of hyphen-wielding indie rock critics will likely be compelled to draw parallels between Brand New Blood to Lonesome Crowded West. But that would be a lazy comparison based on little more than geography. A deeper listen will reveal that while there are philosophical similarities, Feral Children are on to a whole other trip musically, one that feeds off of isolation and loneliness, the ghosts of their working-class pasts and the awkwardness of trying to fit in to Seattle’s hyper self-aware music scene. Desolate as it may sound, though, it’s obvious they are happy to have each other for company. Fucked up individuals they may be, but they seem to understand each other and speak fluently through their music. Feral Children are proud to stand together as a pack: defiant, dysfunctional, and outsiders to the core


I’m still trying to figure out what “Noncommercial Records Recording Studio” means. Does it mean I record non-commercial records? that ain’t true. Do I work for Noncommecial Records? I’ve never heard of them and why haven’t I received a paycheck?

Press Release


Scott Colburn Receives 2009 Seattle Award

U.S. Commerce Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement

WASHINGTON D.C., June 8, 2009 — Scott Colburn has been selected for the 2009 Seattle Award in the Noncommercial Records Recording Studio category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2009 USCA Award Program focused on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a Washington D.C. based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association

The Quadraphonic Sound Spectacular

WHO: Special Ops, This Blinding Light, Wizard Prison

WHAT: A Quadraphonic Sound Spectacular featuring live music in a quadraphonic setting and playback of quadraphonic recordings from the 70’s. More info below

WHERE: The Josephine, 608 NW 65th St. Seattle, WA, 8pm – 11pm

WHEN: Wednesday September 9th, 2009 (999)

WHY: Why Not? This show will be over by 11pm for those lucky bastards who actually have jobs!

In just 8 days, on Sept 9th, 2009 (999), Gravelvoice and The Josephine will present a Quadraphonic Sound Spectacular. This is a special show in that it will feature a quadraphonic PA system.

Taking advantage of this system will be:

Special Ops – doing their brand of psychedelic Black Sabbath tunes;

This Blinding Light – the closest thing to Spaceman Three this side of the stars.

Wizard Prison – a multimedia, throbbing mass of ambient beat magic.

I’m promising some sort of surround experience from these bands, but if that weren’t enough, in between bands will be playback of excerpts of quadraphonic records, including:

Seastones – This is a side project of Grateful Dead keyboardist Ned Lagin and Phil Lesh. But it sounds like Throbbing Gristle. Greatest electronic record of all time. Hear Grace Slick and David Crosby singing through harmonizers that is reminiscent of the Residents. This recording is transferred from an SQ encoded vinyl disc.

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – This is a classic record that also was released in quad. Recently it was issued on DVD-A but that is NOT the original quad mix. This came from the quad reel to reel tape release.

Flaming Lips – Zaireeka – This project was a 4 CD box in which 4 stereo systems were needed to play it back correctly. No 2 CD played play the same speed, so the charm of this set is that you get different results each time. I took the time to load all of the tracks in the computer, line them up and rechannel it for quad. You get a similar experience to the original intent without the hilarity.

The night will follow this schedule roughly. By roughly I mean, these things could start before or after the appointed time. So if you don’t want to miss something, come early and stay late.

8pm – Seastones playback
8:30pm – Special Ops
9pm – Pink Floyd playback
9:30pm – This Blinding Light
10pm – Flaming Lips playback
10:30pm – Wizard Prison
11pm – go home

Decoder Ring Name Check on Indie Rock Reviews


Aussie post-rock outfit Decoder Ring are launching their first effort since 2006’s Sommersault, on September 1st. Chris posted the video for the album’s opening track, Beat The Twilight, last month, and gave me the opportunity to subsequently review the full album.

Listening to They Blind The Stars, and The Wild Team is a venture not taken lightly, though despite the gravity of the music, it remains all the more uplifting. Plumbing depths and reaching highs, it is quite easy to imagine these songs working as the audio backdrop to imagery from scenes in your favourite dramatic enterprise. The sonic landscape described on the double album is both awesome and bombastic… but the tunes will caress your ears at the same time.

The album’s title track features a solid build that reminded me of the feeling one has cresting the top of a large mountain to view a lush and verdant valley below. The efforts of Scott Colburn (Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, Yeasayer) from a production standpoint are much appreciated.

Happy Place was another tune that appealed, as it candidly described the sentiment of its namesake. Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom is the third of my favourites. Its pace was a bit more varied but there was never really a point in the track that let me down.

Those of you who recall the sounds of Godspeed You Black Emperor! or who enjoy listening to Mono or Mogwai will be quite content to ride along with the Wild Team as they ride you towards the land of Decoder Ring’s exultant soundscape.

Cross- Pollinated

An article about my solo music project does a good job of covering the music, but also releases more info about my producer roles.

Dark ambient avant-garde disco comedian. MS. JAYE.D

Data Breaker

Jabon’s Chillingly Funny Dark-Ambient Ditties


A jester-masked, berobed figure stands behind an imposing bank of keyboards before a stylish, boho crowd at the Hideout bar. There he generates unsettling waves of electronic horror—but it’s subtle Lovecraftian horror rather than blatant shock tactics. The haunting, sometimes-antic miasma created by this audio wizard seems absurdly incongruous in this chic setting, but one feels privileged to catch a rare appearance by Jabon, aka studio engineer Scott Colburn.

A longtime key figure in Seattle’s underground-music scene, Colburn is best known for producing albums by Arcade FireAnimal CollectiveSun City Girls, and Mudhoney, among many others. But since 1985, Colburn’s been recording solo pieces on the sly. This year, he’s decided to take his special, rarely heard music to the live realm (many Jabon tracks and concerts can be heard at

Black Flag–saluting punk in the ’80s, Colburn had an epiphany while listening to the Residents‘ Mark of the Mole. A music-appreciation course at Indiana University hipped him to StockhausenCharles Ives, and Morton Subotnick, and immersion in mid-’80s tape-trading culture led to him discovering subversives like Controlled BleedingNegativland, and Whitehouse. “I figured I could do that kind of music, too. Fortunately, I had access to a studio in which to do tape-loop experiments. Very quickly after that, the convergence of instrumental Black Flag (and [Greg] Ginn’s instrumental trio Gone) and Chrome started to take hold. So from there on out, my tapes were made of ‘rock’ trio improvisation, weird Residents-esque pop songs, intercut comedy, and general madness.”

Jabon flourished from 1985 to 1995, but then Colburn moved to Seattle and put the project on hiatus for about 14 years in order to focus on recording with Climax Golden TwinsWizard Prison, and Sun City Girls guitarist Sir Richard Bishop, while also burgeoning as a producer working out of his Gravelvoice Studios.

Colburn disagrees with my “unsettling” adjective above, but he admits, “I think [my tracks] might be challenging in the mood department. I can’t make happy music, but I can make funny music, so I think you need to approach it with a sense of humor and it will make more sense. I like to call my project Dark Ambient Avant Garde Disco Comedy. On any night, there’s gonna be someone who is stoned out of their mind and will get into the drone. There will also be someone else who had a bad day and will appreciate the darkness. Someone else will just enjoy the wacky pop ditties and laugh. I’m trying to appeal to the full range of human emotions.”

The Residents’ multimedia concerts inspired Jabon to follow suit. “In Wizard Prison, I didn’t want to play a show unless it would be an event,” Colburn says. “We wanted to put something together that was unlike anything anyone had seen before. So we got a 9-foot-high and 12-foot-wide aluminum cage draped with a white scrim. We made Brakhage-like avant-garde films to project behind us so we were in silhouette. And we’re wizards, see… in prison! And the music is the alchemy that allows our escape.

“For Jabon, I can play with or without films, with or without special effects, with any multitude of masks and disguises. The best shows will be the ones where I can pull off the carnival. The Hideout was close to that. If you watch the video from that show, several people just walked right up to me and took pictures with their cell phones. Probably to send to their friends to say, ‘Look at this shit I saw tonight!'”

As for the upcoming Cal Anderson gig, Jabon’s music seems like the antithesis of Saturday-afternoon-in-the-park entertainment. “I like the idea that it’s gonna be sunny and hot out there, and I’m going to get onstage in a wizard costume and make some sort of freak sounds,” Colburn says. “It just doesn’t make any sense, and that’s a good thing.

“The first set will concentrate on all my goofy pop numbers, the second set will concentrate on ambient improv. So in a way, the sunny day in the park is the perfect wrong venue. I think it would be fun to play a Laundromat, a parking garage, a beach, a forest, or the light rail!” recommended

Sounds Outside: Jabon, Figeater, Syncopated Taint Horn Quartet, and others perform Sat Aug 15, Cal Anderson Park, 1–8 pm, free, all ages. Jabon performs at 2 and 3:30 pm.