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Jonathan Scales had an amazing album release event this past weekend in Asheville at the Emerald Lounge.  The new album, Character farm and Other Short Stories, is now available on his website and i-tunes. Bold Life did a great interview with Jonathan Scales and below are some excerpts:

Building Character

BY ROBIN TOLLESON in Bold Life www.boldlife.com

For his third album, Character Farm And Other Short Stories, steel drumming frontman Jonathan Scales wanted to imitate long form. “Back in the day the great composers like Wagner wrote complete works from top to bottom as opposed to just a bunch of songs mixed together,” he says. “An epic saga that takes you through all the movements.”

To help tie together the musical fusion of his Fourchestra, Scales called upon the comic book-inspired artwork of Gregory Keyzer. “There’s a different illustration for every song,” Scales says. “It’s cool because you can kind of put a visual image with each piece. The album is packaged like a book of short stories, but there’s an overlying theme. The sonic tapestry, mixed with the congruent artwork, really ties the whole thing together. The pictures help people make their judgments about what it’s about and how they feel about it. It’s not complete long form, but it’s closer.”

. . .    . . .    . . .

“Every time I put out a CD I want to get further along,” Scales says. “It takes a lot of planning to have a successful release. You work hard on the music, and you want people to hear it, so that’s when you have to kick in on the other side and try to get things rolling.” Scales planned a pre-release campaign to build some momentum. In February he released a behind-the-scenes video with footage from the recording session. And last month he released a full-length music video of his song “Muddy Vishnu.” “I’m trying to get people interested,” he says.

The Fourchestra recorded Character Farm at Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, in the fashion of classic jazz records. “We all played together,” Scales says. “We got enough separation that we could get some real good sounds, so it comes off like a studio album with a lot of energy, as a mixture between a live recording and a studio album, kind of like the best of both worlds. That was (sound engineer) Michael Hynes’ approach to the thing.

Character Farm features the churning 6/8 “Jam We Did,” the slightly-island strut of “Science Fair Project,” the breakneck steel-drum’n’bass of “The Longest December,” and “Muddy Vishnu,” a dynamic tune filled with plot twists reminiscent of The Flecktones’ classic “Sinister Minister.”

“This set has my same style, as far as some metric complexities and style changes. Different uses of rhythms and timbres and harmonies,” Scales explains. The music is solid, he says, because the lineup was solid. “My other two albums had streams of different people. This album is definitely more focused.”

Guitarist Duane Simpson, drummer Phill Bronson, and bassist Michael Libramento are the main backing cast on the album, with four guests, saxophonist Jeff Coffin, flutist Kofi Burbridge, percussionist Yonrico Scott, and fiddler Casey Driessen.

“Overall it has a pretty edgy sound,” Scales says. “It has highs and lows as far as dynamics and styles. ‘Muddy Vishnu’ is definitely on the more rockin’ side — my take on a mix between Muddy Waters and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. I wanted it to be a subtle thing to where if you understand or if you’ve never heard them, it’s not a big deal and you’ll still enjoy the song.”

. . .    . . .    . . .
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE and find out more about Jonathan’s history and the rest of the Fourchestra:  http://www.boldlife.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A18113

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Compositionally-twisted work of steel pannist Jonathan Scales “Character Farm & Other Short Stories” includes nine original instrumental “stories” and features guests Jeff Coffin, Kofi Burbridge, Yonrico Scott, and Casey Driessen. The cast of Characters hold this mind-bending concoction together with jazz edge and classical sensibility along with custom designed comic book graphics illustrating each song for the album artwork…


Asheville, NC- March 31, 2011–  The steel pan, an amazing musical discovery born in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago, is often times associated with sandy beaches, tropical climates, and cruise ships: that’s not exactly what you get at a show by the jazz-fusion quartet, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra. Modern Drummer Magazine recognizes, “… Jonathan Scales makes the pans fit in unconventional musical spaces…” and Jazz Times goes on to state that Scales’ brings forth a “new vitality to the traditional Caribbean instrument… picking up where Othello Molineaux left off 20 years ago with Jaco Pastorius.”

Here you have a classically trained composer turned steel pan maestro and front man of the Fourchestra, Jonathan Scales, heavily influenced by the complexity of banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck to the hustle of Jay-Z. Gritty blues guitarist, Duane Simpson, and fusion-chops bassist, Cody Wright, provide the harmonic support for Scales’ sound, while jazz/hip-hop drummer, Phill Bronson, drives the time-shifting, modern grooves. The cast of Characters hold this mind-bending concoction together with jazz edge and classical sensibility.

As an immediate release by Le’Rue Records, the 3rd installment in the Jonathan Scales’ musical saga, Character Farm & Other Short Stories, is a 45-minute dive deeper into the compositionally-twisted work of steel pannist Jonathan Scales.  The nine original instrumental “stories” on the album take listeners from the primal Jam We Did to the lush Hallucinations of the Dream Chasers. The title track Character Farm takes the audience into a chilled, ‘worldly’ ride after the frantically emotional The Longest December. Guest appearance on the record include Jeff Coffin (of Dave Matthews Band / Bela Fleck & the Flecktones), Yonrico Scott and Kofi Burbridge (of Derek Trucks Band fame) and the dazzling work of fiddle virtuoso Casey Driessen.

Jonathan Scales has also been busy creating a NEW Music Video for the song Muddy Vishnu from the album which is available to watch on www.jonscales.com. Scales’ has a unique approach to his album artwork with custom designed comic book graphics illustrating each song with artwork by Gregory Keyzer. He’s also made available a glossy 19 x 13 poster with the comic graphic images.

Steel pannist and virtuoso composer, Jonathan Scales, formed his ‘Fourchestra’ in 2007 as a means to deliver his musically complex, yet accessible ideas to anyone willing to listen. Since then, Scales has released two well received, full-length works, 2007’s One-Track Mind and 2008’s Plot/Scheme which features the likes of Jeff Coffin, Joseph Wooten (of Steve Miller Band), and Jeff Sipe (of Aquarium Rescue Unit). 2011 will usher in Character Farm & Other Short Stories.  Scales’ versatility and innovative nature have allowed him to play along with with acts like The Wooten Brothers Band, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, The Duhks, Everyone Orchestra, Toubab Krewe, Ben Sollee, Casey Dreissen, and Futureman.

Scales has been called a “…rising star of the steel drums…” by Traps Magazine, while Pan on the Net refers to him as “the Real Deal” and having “A Thelonius Monk-like attitude with a Mozart creativity that works.”  When Steel Talks sums it up with, “At the end of the day, Scales is going to be a major play in rewriting the books on steelpan music outside of the box.” With Character Farm, Scales has pushed the limits of conventional steel-pan yet again.

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Jonathan Scales Fourchestra
Casey Driessen opens the show!
Friday, April 1st, 2011
Emerald Lounge

9pm, 21+
$7 cover / $15 gets you a copy of the new album AND ticket
828.232.4372
112 N. Lexington Ave.
Asheville, NC
www.emeraldlounge.com

The steel pan, an amazing musical discovery born in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago, is often times associated with sandy beaches, tropical climates, and cruise ships: that’s not exactly what you get at a show by the jazz-fusion quartet, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra. Modern Drummer Magazine recognizes, “… Jonathan Scales makes the pans fit in unconventional musical spaces…” and Jazz Times goes on to state that Scales’ brings forth a “new vitality to the traditional Caribbean instrument… picking up where Othello Molineaux left off 20 years ago with Jaco Pastorius.”

Here you have a classically trained composer turned steel pan maestro and front man of the Fourchestra, Jonathan Scales, heavily influenced by the complexity of banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck to the hustle of Jay-Z. Gritty blues guitarist, Duane Simpson, and fusion-chops bassist, Cody Wright, provide the harmonic support for Scales’ sound, while jazz/hip-hop drummer, Phill Bronson, drives the time-shifting, modern grooves. The cast of Characters hold this mind-bending concoction together with jazz edge and classical sensibility.

The 3rd installment in the Jonathan Scales’ musical saga, Character Farm & Other Short Stories, is a 45-minute dive deeper into the compositionally-twisted work of steel pannist Jonathan Scales.  The nine original instrumental “stories” on the album take listeners from the primal Jam We Did to the lush Hallucinations of the Dream Chasers. The title track Character Farm takes the audience into a chilled, ‘worldly’ ride after the frantically emotional The Longest December.   Guest appearance on the record include Jeff Coffin (of Dave Matthews Band / Bela Fleck & the Flecktones), Yonrico Scott and Kofi Burbridge (of Derek Trucks Band fame) and the dazzling work of fiddle virtuoso Casey Driessen.

Jonathan Scales has also been busy creating a NEW Music Video for the song Muddy Vishnu from the album shown above. The album is available for pre-sale through the brand new website www.jonscales.com in a variety of options through April 1st. Scales’ also got a lot of fun new merch including a glossy 19 x 13 poster depicting the custom designed comic book graphics illustrating each song with artwork by Gregory Keyzer.

19x13 poster. Full artwork for "Character Farm & Other Short Stories". Illustrations by Gregory Keyzer.

Steel pannist and virtuoso composer, Jonathan Scales, formed his ‘Fourchestra’ in 2007 as a means to deliver his musically complex, but somehow accessible ideas to anyone willing to listen. Since then, Scales has released two well received, full-length works, 2007’s One-Track Mind and 2008’s Plot/Scheme which features the likes of Jeff Coffin (of Dave Matthews Band), Joseph Wooten (of Steve Miller Band), and Jeff Sipe (of Aquarium Rescue Unit). 2011 will usher in Character Farm & Other Short Stories.  Scales’ versatility and innovative nature have allowed him to share the stage with acts like The Wooten Brothers Band, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, The Duhks, Everyone Orchestra, Toubab Krewe, Ben Sollee, Casey Dreissen, and Futureman.

Scales has been called a “…rising star of the steel drums…” by Traps Magazine, while Pan on the Net refers to him as “the Real Deal” and having “A Thelonius Monk-like attitude with a Mozart creativity that works.”  When Steel Talks sums it up with, “At the end of the day, Scales is going to be a major play in rewriting the books on steelpan music outside of the box.”

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Galen Kipar Project at the 2010 FloydFest!

Check out this great review of the Galen Kipar Project’s new release, The Scenic Route in Bold Life. GKP is playing in Asheville This Thursday, August 12th,  at the Grey Eagle in Asheville with the Stereofidelics.

Musical Melting Pot

BY ROBIN TOLLESON in Bold Life

The Galen Kipar Project’s blend of original folk and Americana has been dubbed “experimental” by some music scribes. But it’s really more “old school” roots, like “really old school.”

Galen Kipar fuses his soulfully sung melodies and blues threads with structure ideas he learned studying Debussy’s playbook. Kipar composes with his scope open wide, and has produced four albums in the last five years, including 2008’s acclaimed Paper Sailor, and, just-released, The Scenic Route.

find out more about Galen’s musical background

Kipar started playing music when he was 14, after finding his mother’s classical guitar in a closet. “A friend of mine had just gotten a guitar, and he was learning chords,” he says. “So I started learning chords, and soon we started trying to play songs.”

Now 33, Kipar was a self-taught musician until enrolling at Brevard College in 2001. “My emphasis was in composition,” he says. “I started out as a guitar performance major because I wanted to be able to play an instrument to write songs on. But I switched my interest to composition, and that’s really what I was in love with — I just didn’t know it until I chunked through some of that stuff. That’s what college forces you to do.”

Kipar’s songwriting skills have earned praise from many sources — “small scale symphony,” writes Mountain Xpress, “never settling for conventional melodic or lyrical choices,” adds Asheville magazine. “Going to school and studying composition with Paul Elwood was basically like gathering a toolbox,” Kipar says. “Before I went back to school I had hit a plateau where I just wrote the same song over and over again in a different way. Picking up compositional techniques and tactics, you just have a whole dictionary of things to use as writing tools. I don’t think I’ll ever cover everything in my lifetime. That’s the beauty of it. There are so many different ways to create music.”

Kipar is inspired by music like Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ and Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody In Blue.’ “I love Debussy’s ‘La Mer,'” he says. “It’s all about the oceans, and it’s creating imagery through several different movements. My college professor was persistent that you take an original melody when you’re thinking about a song or a work, and you get everything that happens in that song from that group of notes, those intervals. It can always come back around, but you’re developing it from those. It’s like when you’re writing — you come up with a topic, you develop your thesis statement and then you elaborate on that statement. Music is a language in so many different forms, so a lot of those same principles can be applied.”

Kipar met his talented bandmate, Jon Morrow, at Brevard College, where they played classical music together in the guitar ensemble. Morrow plays an eight-stringed Novax guitar, and simultaneously covers guitar and bass parts in the GKP. They trade off on leads. “It works well because we’re both playing finger-style picking for the most part,” Kipar says. “On a couple tunes I’ll use a pick for a strumming pattern. I try and write music for those instruments, with lots of counterpoint happening. So the experience that we got together in guitar ensemble has definitely carried through to this point.”

Drummer Jeremy Young brings a myriad of grooves to the table, from world beat and jazz fusion to blues and avant garde. “I was on the hunt for a drummer, heard him play one night, and it all came from there,” Kipar recalls. “He is the rock. I love that guy. John and Jeremy have definitely turned me on to some other styles of music. We’ve been listening to Indian composers, and they’ve turned me on to some jazz — I really like Brad Mehldau’s stuff.”

Western North Carolina has proven to be a good fit for Galen Kipar. “Brevard kind of found me, honestly. I had fallen in love with the mountains and gotten into fly- fishing,” he says. “I got a little bit of scholarship money, and that was enough to at least get me up here. From there I found Asheville and just fell in love with the area. If you’re going to be on the East Coast, in my opinion, this is it. Especially for a musician or someone that loves the outdoors.

“Art is a reflection of your surroundings, a mirror of culture. I think that if you spend enough time in one kind of environment then it’s going to channel through in whatever you’re doing.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.boldlife.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A15294

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Photo by Jon Leidel

The steel pan, an amazing musical discovery born in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago, is often times associated with sandy beaches, tropical climates, and cruise ships: that’s not exactly what you get at a show by the jazz-fusion quartet, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra. Here you have a classically trained composer turned steel pan maestro (front man Jonathan Scales), heavily influenced by sounds from banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck to rapper Jay-Z, joining forces with a super-solid but sensible Rock & Roll drummer (Ryan Lassiter). Rapid-fire blues guitar (Duane Simpson) and powerfully finessed bass work (Shannon Hoover) hold this concoction together with jazz edge and classical sensibility.
Steel pannist and virtuoso composer, Jonathan Scales, formed the ‘Fourchestra’ in 2007 as a means to deliver his musically complex, but somehow assessable, ideas to anyone willing to listen. Since then, Scales has released two well received, full-length works (2007’s One-Track Mind and 2008’s Plot/Scheme) featuring the likes of Jeff Coffin, Joseph Wooten, and Jeff Sipe. Scales’ versatility and innovative nature has allowed him to share the stage with acts like The Wooten Brothers Band, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, The Duhks, Everyone Orchestra, Toubab Krewe, Ben Sollee, and Futureman.

Check out some great photos by Vikas Nambiar from the last time the Fourchestra played the Double Door:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/musicmagik/3788018782/in/set-72157621815630975/

Here’s what the media has to say about Jonathan Scales Fourchestra:

“…A Thelonius Monk-like attitude with a Mozart creativity that works.” –Pan on the net

“At the end of the day, Scales is going to be a major play in rewriting the books on steelpan music outside of the box.” –When Steel Talks

“…rising star of the steel drums…” –Traps Magazine

“…Jonathan Scales makes the pans fit in unconventional musical spaces…” – Modern Drummer

“The innovative Asheville, North Carolina based steel drummer Jonathan Scales brings new vitality to the traditional Caribbean instrument on his sophomore release, picking up where Othello Molineaux left off 20 years ago with Jaco Pastorius.” – JazzTimes

“Jonathan Scales is dropping serious musical conversation. . . Jonathan Scales clearly has something to say – and he is letting his talent and pan instrument do the talking. There are many pretenders, but double second pan player Jonathan Scales is The Real Deal. ” – Pan on the Net

Show Details at a Glance:

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra
Double Door Inn
Friday, April 23, 2010

10pm, $10
704-376-1446
1218 Charlottetown Ave
Charlotte, NC 28204
www.doubledoorinn.com

Find Js4 on the Web:

www.jonscales.com
www.myspace.com/jonathanscales
www.reverbnation.com/jonathanscales

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