By: Alan T. Goodman
For those of us who grew up in the 80's, listened to the Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo soundtrack, wore Moonpants, and danced on pieces of old cardboard and linoleum, well, we know what boom boxes are. Or at least what they were. How about a new BoomBox, especially one that takes old school styles and combines them with Beck, Gorillaz, St. Germain, AND delivers live performances that have the entire Southeast turning their heads. Would you check it out?
Formed about three years ago, BoomBox is not your traditional group. It only has two members - a guitar player/vocalist and a DJ - that combine live instruments with multi-track sequencing, turntables, and samplers for a unique brand of infectious music. Zion Godchaux and Russ Randolph came together while working on an album that Zion was collaborating on with his mother, former Grateful Dead member Donna Jean Godchaux. Russ was engineering the record and the two connected immediately.
After forming in late 2003, BoomBox spent most of 2004 in the studio developing both their sound and their unique approach to live performance. Since then, they've been refining that sound, which has stirred up a nice buzz with promoters, media, and other bands.
Zion Godchaux - BoomBox
At the time they met, Randolph was tired of playing in traditional bands. He says, "I had pretty much given up, too much of a pain in the ass, not fun nor fulfilling, either musically or creatively." Zion, who had practically grown up with the Grateful Dead, was feeling similarly jaded. Together, they had an original vision of what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go.
In the mid 90's Zion was a DJ in the San Francisco house music scene, and pondered the possibility of fusing DJ tracks with live instruments. A decade later that fusion has come to fruition with BoomBox. With musical influences from house to the Grateful Dead, Zion says his vision is "not just jamming live, but to write full songs in dance format like a singer-songwriter, retaining the lyrics, the melody, and the song. It's the best of both worlds, something everybody could groove and have a good time with. But, when the show was over they could still take away the meaning and the songs as a whole."
Russ Randolph - BoomBox
In just three short years, BoomBox's shared vision has come a long way from their home in Florence, Alabama. What began as local gigs and playing aftershows has blossomed into a full-blown touring act. With one studio release under their belts, they're working on remixing some live tracks for a new album. "We want to establish BoomBox as a legitimate act in a bigger market, to take it to the next level on a bigger scale," Randolph says. By the overwhelmingly positive reaction to their debut, their rapidly growing fan base, and Randolph and Zion's infectious dedication to their music, their legitimacy seems almost inevitable.
Despite their unique instrumentation, every song does have a somewhat traditional structure which they're able to flesh out live. They jokingly say that "we share one brain between the two of us," which is evident in the way they finish each other's sentences and thoughts. Onstage, they are "two people as an extension of one DJ" and the chemistry between them is undeniable.
So, what does the future hold for BoomBox? "We are always experimenting in the 'Lab' towards a bigger vision. We want to keep everything fresh and new, and exciting for us as musicians. We want to take it as far as it will go," says Randolph. Zion adds, "It's still a mystery to us. We know the path we're on will have twists and turns but we have a good idea where we are going now. I'm blown away by what is possible and am happy to experience the adventure."
BOOMBOX TOUR DATES
03/08/07 | Georgia Theatre | Athens, GA
03/09/07 | Mellow Mushroom | Tuscaloosa, AL
03/17/07 | The Funky Bean Farm | Yellow Springs, OH
03/23/07 | The Soul Kitchen | Mobile, AL (w/ Perpetual Groove)
03/24/07 | Club 29 | Decatur, GA (w/ Green Lemon)
03/29/07 | Two Stick | Oxford, MS
03/30/07 | Two Stick | Oxford, MS
03/31/07 | P Sally's | Monroe, LA
04/04/07 | Newby's | Memphis, TN (w/Particle)
04/05/07 | The Granada Theatre | Lawrence, KS (w/Particle)
04/06/07 | The Blue Note | Columbia, MO (w/Particle)
04/12/07 | The 8X10 |Baltimore, MD
04/13/07 | Uncle Buck's Ranch | Athens, OH
04/14/07 | Magic Stick | Detroit, MI (w/Particle)
04/17/07 | The Buffalo Icon | Buffalo, NY (w/Particle)
04/19/07 | Mellow Mushroom | Tuscaloosa, AL
04/20/07 | Smokehouse | Florence, AL
04/24/07 | Exit/In | Nashville, TN (w/Particle)
04/25/07 | The Bottling Company | Hattiesburg, MS (w/Particle)
04/26/07 | Barley's Taproom | Knoxville, TN
04/28/07 | Oldfields on High | Columbus, OH
05/02/07 | Canal Street Tavern | Dayton, OH
05/03/07 | The Blue Gator | Athens, OH
05/05/07 | Nelson Ledges Quarry Park | Garrettsville, OH
05/11/07 | Mellow Mushroom | Tuscaloosa, AL
06/07/07 | Wakarusa | Lawrence, KS
06/24/07 | Park Street Tavern | Columbus, OH
07/04/07 | Nelson Ledges Quarry Park | Garrettsville, OH
07/13/07 | Kinetic Playground | Chicago, IL
07/27/07 | Hoxeyville Music Festival | Hoxeyville, MI
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