Swatkins & The Positive Agenda & Jarrod Lawson 5.25.19
Words & photos by James Sissler
The night began with a solo set by multi-instrumentalist and looping artist Amenta Abioto, whose music features conscious lyrics over hypnotic African and hip hop-inspired rhythms. Using a mix of live instruments, vocals, and pre-recorded loops, she played a short set of original songs culminating in a theatrical dance break that helped get the audience moving.
Soul singer/songwriter Jarrod Lawson then took the stage with his band and kicked things up a notch. The added richness of the full band stood out as they launched into a set of their sweet and funky soul tunes. The group’s dynamic, groovy playing filled the space nicely, complimented by the venue’s noticeably good sound. Christopher Friesen’s bass and the percussive textures of drummer Cory Limuaco were especially present. The two were locked into a deep pocket that had the crowd dancing. Along with guitarist Andriano Donnaloia, they did a great job supporting the smooth and jazzy singing and playing of bandleader Jarrod Lawson.
Before releasing the microphone, Jans took a second to congratulate and appreciate Swatkins and all the good work he does for the Portland music community, comparing him to the sun in how he gives life and strength to others. This was echoed by vocalist Arrietta Ward, who sang a couple of songs after emotionally reminiscing about the formation of the project and how “Swatty spoke it all into existence” years ago. The set ended on a high note, with Swatkins yelling for the audience to “shake it” in his funky robo-voice, after which they demanded an encore.
The Positive Agenda EP is now available on iTunes, Bandcamp, and Spotify.