Buffalo Black & Lord Byron
Medicine Man Revival, Jon Bap, TREE.
Thu, June 29, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmTrees
This event is all ageshttp://www.treesdallas.com/event/1486329/
Young went quiet after a solo record deal fizzled in 2008, but he wasn't entirely silent. Medicine Man's Traveling Revival, a well-produced, variety act showcasing local talent, ran for three years. Young hosted with Mattie Michelle.
"The name Medicine Man came from a character that wasn't completely intentional," says Young. "A lot of it came about because of certain life experiences, the kind you don't write about."
Singer Dezi 5, who used to perform in Traveling Revival, recalls his awe upon meeting Young. "I looked up to Keite the first time I saw him at the Prophet Bar," Dezi says. "I love Keite like a brother, and he's Dallas' D'Angelo; he's soul-rock."
Young was ordained as a minister at age 15, through the Baptist church, and spent his teenage years conducting sermons. "It's what I always was, it's what I am," he says, despite the fact he left the church at age 19.
"I had already outgrown religion," Young says. "I saw the lies for myself, the lie that religion uses to keep people slaves." These days, the only organized groups that Young belongs to are bands. "But I do still preach every time I'm on stage."
In his early twenties Young learned to play instruments, though he finds that they tie him down onstage. "I learned music by myself," Young says. "I had a broken guitar and my grandmother had a game room with no AC, and I would sing into a mic for 72 hours, writing a song."
Young also studied pre-law at the University of Houston, but dropped out after a year. "I found myself in the piano room more than in class," he says. He signed a publishing agreement at 19 with a label called Gospel Central, which entailed contributing 12 songs to be used at their discretion. "I signed the agreement because I don't think the music business has ever looked kindly upon people like myself who can't be put into one category very easily," Young says.
After fulfilling his contract as a writer, he was asked to join one of the label's artists, seven-time Grammy winner Kirk Franklin and the Family, as a backup singer. For two years, he performed on a nationwide tour, joined by his parents, who were also background singers for Franklin. "It kept me out of a lot of trouble," Young says. "Not enough, though."
Following the tour, Young signed a recording contract with Hidden Beach Records, a subsidiary of Sony. He says that the connection came through his great uncle, NBA player Wayman Tisdale, who'd worked with Hidden Beach, and had also been a bass player for the Motown label. Young says that it took six years to release his debut album, and it wasn't commercially successful. "Critics gave it love, but it wasn't promoted," Young says. "I was outpacing their promoting of the record, it wasn't a good match. ... If it's not honest, I can't connect to it, and then I have nothing on stage. I can't compromise."
He also says he feels industry racism helped limit his options. "They were only letting Lenny Kravitz have a guitar and be black at the same time," he says. "The industry is super racist that way, nobody knew what to do with me."
After separating from the label, Young formed a band called Black and Blue, which includes guitarist Mark Lettieri of Snarky Puppy, and which still plays intermittently. He considers his music "root rock," inspired in a range between Led Zeppelin and Sam Cooke.
Medicine Man's upcoming album is in production at Modern Electric studios, and he expects it'll be ready for release in the beginning of next year. Producer Burt, who also plays guitar and keys, says of the project: "Medicine Man is a culture of honesty and vulnerability. Keite is a modern day shaman and has a lot to offer the music community in more than just the music department."
For Young, elaborate showmanship and music are just tools to get out his message. "Success for me is being the artist," he states. "I'm an artist, so I'm successful. I create. My show is my resume."
While it’s difficult to find a box that he fits into neatly, Bap is perhaps best described as an experimental soul artist. His background is in many ways traditional: He was raised in a musical family, first found his voice in the church choir, and clearly draws a lot of inspiration from classic funk, soul and R&B. The forms that his songs take, however, push beyond the commonly understood bounds of those genres. His aesthetic as a recording artist is one of disorderly virtuosity, a composer who piles up home-recorded sounds in unexpected and sometimes stunning ways. In this regard he has more in common with, say, the Dirty Projectors than D’Angelo, though he’s clearly indebted to both.
Nowhere is Bap’s outsider stance more clear than in his approach to percussion. The drums on Jon Bap songs clash and clatter, fighting for control of the tempo and the listener’s ear. He allows beats to collide at odd angles, to play counter-rhythms, to create an air of barely-contained chaos. On What Now? Bap has taken this sensibility a step further by fully removing the drummer from the songwriting process. Nearly all of the drum tracks on What Now? were sampled from hours of jazz drummer Mike Mitchell’s improvisations, which Bap recorded in preparation for the album and then sequenced to create these tracks. On these songs, Mitchell’s playing evokes everything from Questlove’s off-kilter kit work on Voodoo to Zach Hill’s manic fills to the inhuman breakbeats of IDM artists like Squarepusher and Aphex Twin.
Despite the rhythmic discord, Bap’s best songs still manage to feel loose, warm and immediate. “Gotta Be Your Lover” sounds like the warped memory of a Prince song with a wind-up toy standing in for a drummer. “Don’t Run Into the Dark So Quick” is a devastating ballad, its wobbly, detuned guitar conjuring a dusty blues acetate, as Bap pleads with a wayward lover. And “Let It Happen,” the beautifully off-balance, Jeff Buckley-esque title track from Bap’s debut EP, gets a welcome reprise here, closing the album with one of Bap’s strongest vocal performances to date.
Jon Bap is a promising new voice, and the inventiveness and confidence he displays here is commendable, but he might benefit from an editor. What Now? has more than its fair share of interludes, field recordings and spoken-word bits, but its primary shortcoming is that there are simply not enough songs, especially by way of comparison to his more focused debut EP. Similarly, not every sonic experiment here clicks; songs like “Intuition” border on cacophonous in parts, when the songwriting begins to bow under the weight of too many tempos and layers. Still, it’s not difficult to see how this sort of willful messiness might support Bap’s overall aim, to surprise and unsettle the listener but also, to see that her patience is rewarded.
2709 Elm Street
Dallas, TX, 75226