Headtronics: A Night to Remember
Words & Photos By J-man
Headtronics Live at River Street Jazz Cafe August 8, 2010.
As I left a meeting, I glanced down at my phone to see that I had missed a call from DJ Logic. I sent him a text message back as I knew I would be venturing into poor cell service. Then it hit me... Headtronics was playing in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Damn! In the midst of moving back to Michigan and planning my adventures in Colorado, I had forgotten that the one project that I wanted to see the most this summer would be within' viewing range. Immediately I was irritated with myself as I had plans/work to do that evening. Then it came... an invite from the band.
Let me give you a little bit of back history on this project. The project came together out of a shear desire to play together. It came together in a festival environment, in an impromptu type of situation. The legendary mix master, DJ Logic heard Freekbass, one of the funkiest bass players on the scene, and asked him on the spot if he wanted to jam. Then, the same offer was presented to key master Steve Molitz, who obliged. That night in front of an unexpecting crowd, Headtronics was born.
When I first heard about the assembly of Headtronics I was thrilled. I knew from the get go it would be a hodge podge of space and experimental freedom. For me it was just a matter of where and when I would have the opportunity to see them. What I didn't know in the beginning was how wonderful my first Headtronics experience would be. It played out like a dream.
I arrived in Wilkes-Barre early in the evening, at The River Street Jazz Cafe'. The venue had not yet opened when I arrived, so I had to be let in. The staff were preparing for the evenings affairs as the band soundchecked. I found a table in the corner, set up my mobile office and finished composing the interview that would take place. I ordered a White Russian and a Chicken Caesar Salad, from the bar. As I began posting live from the event a gentleman (assumably Headtronics manager), sporting a Shamy Bash shirt approached me with an out-streched hand.
"You must be Paul." I said with a smile.
"We're glad to have you out tonight. Let us know if you need anything..." He said in a relaxed fashion.
Paul's road resume is thick, from Parliament, to a long stint with Bootsy Collins. I could tell that Paul did good work. Headtronics was in good hands.
He returned to the band who was dinning at the bar of the empty venue.
"Justin, come over here and meet everyone!" Paul yelled across the room.
I walked across the room, re-acquainted with Logic, met Bernie Worrell (one of my musical idols), and Freekbass, whom I had never come across to date. They wrapped up dinner and we made our way backstage to conduct the interview.
Following the interview, we enjoyed a few "press" style shots...
Then came a shot with one of my musical idols, Mr. Bernie Worrell... Following the shot I was told that they had a hotel room available for me. Bernie came up to me and fumbling through a bag.
"Here, here's my room key. Logic and I are taking off tonight." Bernie stated.
"Thanks." I said with a smile.
Following the interview I got back to my drink and food, which were both excellent. I was surprised at how good the food was... You could taste the love put into it. I want to say a couple of things about River Street Jazz Cafe before I continue. The vibe was excellent, the staff was upbeat and the food was top notch. I was really impressed by the venue, all the way down to the sound. Small venues often have trouble/issues with muffled sound as well as dynamics. Not this time. River Street had it dialed in. I want to personally thank the owner Tom for his hospitality, great stories and excellent food. I am a man who appreciates good food.
The house DJ's were spinning as people began to make their way in. I uploaded some pictures as well as the interview to the MusicMarauders Facebook Fan Page. As I did, Paul approached me with another White Russian. I sat next to DJ Logic at the bar and discussed a couple of projects, our mutual appreciation for good food and good wine, as well as the up coming YarmonyGrass festival in Colorado.
As it came time for Headtronics to take the stage, the crowd thickened. It still wasn't as packed as I had hoped, given the line-up of musicians. But, it was a Sunday evening in PA. Paul stepped on stage to introduce the band and it began.
From the get go it was spacey. Bernie eased in with some characteristic Worrell phrasings. Logic, who came off as poised on the turntable eased in with some beats, and then it really hit; Freekbass came out swinging. You have heard me rant and rave about Logic before, and I have mentioned Bernie Worrell is one of my musical idols; but let me, for a second give some praise to the gentleman holding down the low end... Freekbass. I was extremely impressed by his apparent and natural connection to funk bass. The funk oozed out of this cat. His licks were so clean and powerful and where I was curious as to how he would hold his own against Logic and Bernie, he appeared to be leading the charge. If you haven't check him out, get to it.
Headtronics Weaved in and out of exploration and space, re-organizing for covers like "Red Hot Mamma" and what sounded like "Billie Jean". The sound was so unique, so funky and so innovative. I pondered to myself about the amount of time it would take this project to blow up... Or if they would just be swept under the rug, like so many other super groups before them.
I was granted stage access so I took the opportunity to get some press shots of the band as well as some video of the band doing their thing.
To me, DJ Logic is like a chameleon. He seamlessly fits, into his surroundings with such ease that it confirms his versatility and status as a top notch musician. Logic's tasteful contributions to so many progress spanning the gamete, draw a certain respect. To see him featured next to The Legend Bernie Worrell was enjoyable to say the least.
What does one say about the legend, Bernie Worrell? How can you verbally describe such a sizable contribution to music. We're talking about one of the funk-fathers as well as the most sampled musician of all time. Bernie created a language. One that was taken and reiterated by so many across so many genres. A pure musical genius. This cat played with Parliament as well as the Talking Heads... I felt compelled to express my appreciation to him personally. And I did just that.
In the end, the turn out was not huge. The energy wasn't mind-blowing... But what I will say is that Headtronics is one of the most unique and innovative bands on the scene. To harness improv as they have is impressive to say the least. I expect great things from this band, and I look forward to seeing Logic and Freekbass with Steve Molitz. I could see this project achieving greatness, as well I could see it getting overlooked. All I can do is my part in trying to get the word out about this rare super-group.
The end of the night came and I was pumped up. I thanked the band for having me out, and decided not to take the room as I would not be sleeping this evening. I thanked Tom of River Street, collected my gear and drove off towards Upstate, NY.
As I drove, I reflected on how truly fortunate that I am to be able to mingle with some of my idols... Living the dream.