“Here’s your damned theme, people!” NOW ON TOUR: the venerable Stones Throw label mounts a barnstorming soul revue featuring Stepkids, Myron & E, Dam-Funk and Stones Throw majordomo Peanut Butter Wolf. Mayer Hawthorne pops in at the end, too. Check out video clips of each artist following the text.
BY RON HART
“Old Motown tours used to have a bunch of their artists all together in one bus usually backed up all by the same band so we also like the how this tour is reminiscent of that,” speaks Jeff Gitelman, singer/guitarist Bridgeport, CT-based avant-soul outfit The Stepkids, in regards to the upcoming Stones Throw Soul tour, where they will also be serving as the backing band for R&B throwback act Myron & E. “This’ll be a new experience for us as a band, backing up another artist. What’s interesting is that we really have to be two different bands for this tour. When we play with Myron & E we are just trying to let them do their thing and support that. However, a different animal is unleashed when we are performing out front.” [Below: Stepkids]
Rounded out by electro-funk maestro Dam-Funk and Stones Throw label chief Peanut Butter Wolf on audio and visual duties with a DJ & video set, the nine-city trek across the West Coast kicked off August 16th in Pomona, California and heads up and down the shoreline before returning to the label’s stomping grounds of Los Angeles for a show at Jewel’s Catch One on August 28th featuring Stones Throw alumnus and current radio sensation Mayer Hawthorne on the 1s and 2s between sets. [Full list of dates at the end. Below: Myron & E]
The tour marks the first of its kind of the intrerpid underground urban imprint, which initially got its start in 1996 as a means for Wolf to put out the debut full-length of his late best friend Charizma (whose untimely passing in December 1993 will be commemorated in a 20th anniversary box set of his complete works later this year). The label would soon grow to become the definitive word on leftfield hip-hop and outsider R&B ever since, releasing classic titles from such noteworthy as J. Dilla, Mayer Hawthorne, Jonwayne, Guilty Simpson, Homeboy Sandman and, of course, producer extraordinaire Madlib and his many guises, who Gitelman attributes as a major influence on the Stepkids’ sound.
“Madlib is highly influential on us,” Wolf admits. [He’s pictured above] “Being jazz musicians ourselves, he represents a perfect bridge between that world and hip-hop. Listening to him showed us how we could channel and fuse our jazz influences to make something original.”
When asked who he is most excited about seeing perform live each night, Wolf was quick to say Dam-Funk [pictured below] whose excellent collaboration with former Slave frontman Steve Arrington, Higher, was released this summer as a precursor to his hotly anticipated follow-up to the former gangsta rap studio musician’s solo debut Toeachizown.
”In Dam, I had finally found someone who actually lived in LA and was as interested in ‘80s soul/funk as I was,” he proclaims. “He’d make me CDs of rare records and I’d do the same for him. Then I eventually found out he made music and after I heard it, I asked him to do a remix for this artist Baron Zen I released an album from and from there, I signed him as an artist to Stones Throw.”
With this roadshow featuring three of the most talented acts in his troop, the San Jose-born DJ/producer otherwise known as Chris Manak feels the Stones Throw Soul tour is the next logical step in the label’s progression into the second decade of the new millennium.
“It’s gotten to the point where Stones Throw represents so many different styles of music, but they basically all fit into three main categories: hip hop, rock and soul,” explains Wolf, who doesn’t rule out a East Coast leg of the tour and expressed interest in Stones Throw-affiliated revues showcasing the label’s rap and rock talent in the future as well. “It’s made it harder to promote certain things in a way because when people see the [Stones Throw] logo these days, they don’t know what they’re getting. When I DJ I pretty much play all different stuff too, but I also realize that audiences enjoy going to themed nights cuz they know what they’re getting themselves into ahead of time that way. So here’s your damned theme, people. Stones Throw SOUL!!!!”
Fri 8/16 POMONA CA – Glasshouse – tickets
Sat 8/17 PHOENIX – Crescent Ballroom – tickets
Sun 8/18 TUCSON – Club Congress – tickets
Tues 8/20 DENVER – Casslemen’s – tickets
Wed 8/21 SALT LAKE CITY – Urban Lounge – tickets
Fri 8/23 PORTLAND * – Mississippi Studios – tickets
Sat 8/24 SEATTLE * – The Crocodile – tickets
Tues 8/27 OAKLAND – The New Parish – tickets
Wed 8/28 L.A. – Jewel’s Catch One – tickets w/ Mayer Hawthorne (DJ)
(*PB Wolf not performing at the Seattle & Portland shows.)
Okay, let’s watch some video clips of these mofos!