BoomBox | 06.07.08 | NYC

Words by: Martin Halo | Images from

BoomBox :: 06.07.08 :: Rocks Off Cruise :: New York, NY

BoomBox by Christian James
Touring in support of Vision of Backbeat, BoomBox is developing a sound that rings true not just within the jam community but in the transcendent dance world of clubs as well.

Consisting of Zion Rock Godchaux, son of Grateful Dead alum Donna Jean, and DJ Russ Randolph, they approach music from the mindset of seasoned musicians and talented producers. For Godchaux, he grew up a child of the Dead in the Bay Area before eventually exploring the hypnotic nature of San Francisco's seductive underground rave community, while his counterpart's musical upbringing was very different. Randolph is a native of a vibrant artistic community buried within humid Alabama who went on to do production work for Los Lobos and Chuck Berry. Together they are putting forth an eclectic fusion of lick-based grooves and nightclub friction.

With a schedule that will keep them on the road until the fall and a forthcoming new album, the duo arrived in New York for a midnight voyage on the Rock Off Boat Cruise. Rocks Off books gigs that give audiences an alternative to stuffy rooms by pushing audio equipment onto party boats that scour the Hudson and East River.

BoomBox by Gary Barber
Adding an extra element of comic relief to the proceedings was an inner city prom preparing to leave in the boat slip directly next to us. The hip-hop and jam communes find a common level of expression and understanding within a dank stench of euphoric decadence. With boarding at 11, the Half Moon Cruise Boat blew its horn for departure at midnight, and the three-hour tour around the eastern tip of Manhattan proved to be an all out dance party. Godchaux is a character; as he sported a feathered, American flagged top hat, psychedelic vest, tinted glasses and a masterful, overgrown Fu Manchu moustache. With the lights passing by his head, his guitar ignited the hip shake. "It is about the funk," Godchaux said in a spirited pre-show interview.

With the Half Moon passing under The Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, the music carried on. Beautiful, curvy hippie girls in long skirts grooved in sweet gyrations to the thump of Randolph's vinyl-flavored backbeat. There were no breaks in-between songs as the set melted into one continuous track that showcased little snippets of recognizable covers from the quick hands of DJ Randolph. "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson was one of them, joined to their original "Stereo." Adding to the party were several long, heavy rolls of the boat courtesy of the wake from larger vessels crossing through the shipping lanes along the Statue of Liberty.

In this atmosphere of raw musical improvisation, what stood out was Godchaux's guitar work. At some points, the man needed to reconnect to the telepathy wavelengths being exerted by Randolph but his off-the-cuff playing remained interesting throughout the duration of the set.

In true jam scene fashion, audience members strutted about in flowers, and on this particular evening, there was a gentleman in a protective bike helmet. The whole night I was thinking to myself, "Dude, if shit is going to go wrong a life preserver might serve you better." That was until after Godchaux said goodnight, thanked the crowd, and bike helmet weaning gentleman, almost on cue, collapsed over the monitor, knocking down the microphone and spilling into Godchaux's lap.

The Half Moon returned to the dock at 3 a.m., under the loom of the Empire State Building, dark and silhouetted. If you haven't had the chance to experience BoomBox in a live setting yet, you're encouraged to go for a ride.

Here's a film reel by Chris Casiero

DMW News Presents: An Interview with BoomBox

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[Published on: 6/30/08]

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lasvegas starstarstarstarstar Mon 6/30/2008 12:31PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

here is the show for your listening pleasure:

enjoy, it's a smoker!!

bumblebee7 star Mon 6/30/2008 01:00PM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
phishr82 Mon 6/30/2008 01:18PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


^^^his guitar work is pedestrian, at best. that being said, these guys are a really fun dance party! check em out!

ratatatpat Mon 6/30/2008 01:43PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Phattiebace Mon 6/30/2008 02:42PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I dont care whatchall say, his music can make my ass shake...funk, funkity, funkfunkfunk

Godspeed305 starstar Mon 6/30/2008 03:16PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
ratatatpat Mon 6/30/2008 04:12PM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Mr. Brojangles starstarstarstar Mon 6/30/2008 05:34PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I was trying to sleep in my tent at Wanee Fest this year, but the people beside me where playing loud dance music. I was pretty pissed until I heard a crazy cover of a Dylan's "Who Killed Davey Moore" that seemed way out of place. When I got back home, I researched until I found it was BoomBox doing this. Interesting stuff, and these guys have some good shows on

BooneRes Mon 6/30/2008 06:40PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


ratboy you're a tool......

totalot Mon 6/30/2008 07:00PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great songs and he uses his guitar as part of the beats not to shred solos...i dont think thats the point of their style and why its so great and different. I can go out to my local spot and see some guy tearing stuff up but it doesnt mean its good.

luvly life Mon 6/30/2008 07:05PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

this NYC show bounced in the wake of the hudson. Saw them in Denver and Cevantes was packed and the floor bounced kinda like the boat...

NittyGritty starstarstarstarstar Mon 6/30/2008 10:07PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


hell yes these guys are a lot of fun live! Godchaux came to an after party, man was he the center of attention with his sunglasses and outfit still on all night. When i gave him a ride to his van he asked if he could pick up some dinner cuz he hadn't eatin all day. So of course i give him a ride to this gas station that sells the best fried chicken in Mississippi and instead of picking that up, he got a big gulp of coffee and a pixie stick. I dont know about you but after not eating all day, thats the last thing id pick up. HAH Anyway, real friendly guys. go see them!

Nasty Nate starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/1/2008 10:04AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nasty Nate

I think Boom Box are great! If you want to see hot chicks shake their asses all night go see Boombox. If you want to see an amazing guitar player, go see Trey, Haynes, Kimock, Trucks. Enjoy the diversity people. Zion is soooo charizmatic, he really makes Boombox. The beats could use some engineering though.

T Boogie starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/1/2008 12:24PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

T Boogie

Wish I could've been there.......def one of the highlights of their tour this summer! And WOW...such criticism from grumpy people? Whatever happened to listening to music to have a good time? I don't know..........i think they are THE BEST!!! I would have given a pinky to see this show....but already bought tix to a RAINED OUT THAT was a bad investment.

pjsglide starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/1/2008 01:24PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Both Zion and DJ Russ are very talented and I am very thankful to have found their music and see them live several times. You can't help but to dance your a**ss off! I highly recommend seeing them live at least once, if not 12 times!

luvly life Tue 7/1/2008 02:28PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Well freaking said Goldfinger. however the bass lines and beats are what drip with booty shakin' us bbox girls.

Halluxone star Tue 7/1/2008 03:35PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Nasty Nate starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/1/2008 04:08PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nasty Nate

agreed... but he is using a MPC or a Electribe or something... dunno. He is not playing records. And in my opinion you if you are going to have everything pre programed to a certian extent your beats need to be absolutely amazing. I am a producer/engineer and I have a band similar to boombox. We are still in the writing stages, BUT with all the old breaks: Amen, doggone, funky nassau, hot pants, etc. it seems that DJ Russ could use some more hits and bass than the same old 606 hits he uses in every song.

But still... I LOVE Boombox.

If you are curious... hehe.

totalot starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/1/2008 05:01PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

hung out with Russ and Zion at after parties supporting local groups at post shows. Also, pretty sure record their samples and then mix them live, but either way they make some funky dance music and are nice guys.

Godspeed305 starstar Tue 7/1/2008 05:08PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

thank you Halluxone for noticing the reality of the situation. I thought I was going crazy. Though after reading all the other comments, I'm reminded that if the music moves you, then it is good. But I like this website in that it focuses on original, often challenging and envelope pushing music and I just don't get any of that from these guys.

Worland Warriors Bus Tue 7/1/2008 05:13PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Worland Warriors Bus

Technical guitar work has its place, definitely, but BoomBox has so much funk in its soul that it's just not necessary here. They bring feeling and a specific atmosphere that is not teachable, and that transcends fast fingerwork and the ability to execute advanced musical concepts. They are the raw essence of music: pure feeling. Uncluttered, undiluted, unrefined funk, and that's the reason that BoomBox packs the dance floor every time.

Ching star Tue 7/1/2008 11:45PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
BooneRes Wed 7/2/2008 08:46AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I have to agree with ^^^^^^. They are both very cool guys and as down to earth as it gets. I was supposed to interview them the last time they were in Charlotte but that fell through. Regardless I spoke with Russ and their manager a few times and they were as nice as you could possibly be. Iv kicked it with Zion and Russ a few times at the Ledges as well and the same goes for there too. There music might be simplistic to some of you but I love it either way and I am glad they are putting out a new album. Lets not forget about the vocals which I think are very soulful and great!

77 starstarstarstarstar Wed 7/2/2008 05:04PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

...sounds from other universes...

Halluxone star Thu 7/10/2008 09:25PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Mia...I have listened to Zion play guitar (read the original post). Booombox opened up for us and I actually did listen closely the entire time. As a booty shakin hippie chick, sure the prefabricated bass and beats are fun to dance along with...but there is very little originality in what they do. Disco break beats with a sampler, add some lights and average guitar playing...presto! You've got a nice little party mix. But let's not believe the pipe dream that this is anything other than just that. As far as the attitude of these guys, maybe I caught them on a bad night or something (they were late to the gig and were slotted first because of this). All I know is that particular night, they acted like two biatches...flame away.

a_side33 starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 11:51AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I agree with my mia here boys and girls, if you guys wanna go talk shit go somewhere else. And you know what did happen to listening to music because its fun and makes you feel good? music doesnt have to be the most complex thing to be good, thats what's great about music. Music is about the feeling you get from it, the way it touches your soul and moves you in a way that the regular world cannot. As far as BoomBox goes, they definitely know how to have a good time and they are very soulful individuals and it shows through their music. Zion's guitar work is tasteful, soulful and moving, not to mention far from pedestrian. Did Gilmour shred all over Dark Side or Animals? NO he tastefully placed perfect notes around, same with Garcia and same with Zion. As for Russ's work..He is an excellent person and knows his music to a T. Everything he does is intentional and intelligent and far from lame so lets not bash somebody who actually makes records and doesnt just talk. Overall between Russ and Zion, they are the perfect team and two great guys, BoomBox is about the feeling they give you out on the dance floor, the same feeling the Dead were about, that feeling you get from music. So go check out these guys, i promise they'll move and stir up your soul for a goodtime dance party.