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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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By: Samantha Ricketts

The Concordian, Issue date: 9/9/09 
Concord University in Athens
Media Credit: MySpace (From left) Lassiter, Hoover, Scales, and Simpson make up the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra.

Media Credit: MySpace (From left) Lassiter, Hoover, Scales, and Simpson make up the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra.

The Jonathan Scales Fourchestra entertained students Thursday night on the Subway Stage in the Student Center. Scales’s use of the steel drums provides a unique and catchy sound to the group.

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the band is made up of four talented musicians—Ryan Lassiter on drums, Duane Simpson (originally from West Virginia) on guitar, Shannon Hoover on bass, and Jonathan Scales on the steel drums.

The Fourchestra’s music can be described as a fusion among rock, jazz, funk, reggae, and bluegrass. And the traditional Caribbean steel drums add yet another element to the style.

While the band’s songs are instrumental, they still manage to tell an intricate story. One of the songs, Scales explained, was written a couple years ago about the war. Although no words were said, his message was clear to the audience.

This inventive group left Concord students both content and impressed. Freshman Clifton Jowers comments, “It was like four different kinds of music fused into one.”

The blend of sounds was both soothing and exciting at times. The band joked that their steel drums sound nothing like Jimmy Buffett; the group truly has a sound unlike any other band.

The band currently has two CDs out: “One-Track Mind” (2007) and “Plot/Scheme” (2008).

They are playing numerous shows on the East Coast this fall, so anyone who missed out on Concord’s performance can still catch them nearby.

For more information about the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, to purchase a CD, or to see their schedule of upcoming performances, visit their myspace at http://www.myspace.com/jonathanscales.

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Written by Rob Moore Friday, 03 July 2009 14:59
Crankit Mag
www.crankitmag.com

Asheville-based Jonathan Scales Fourchestra has a uniqueness that is just theirs–steel drums and jazz. This cool combination is a product of Appalachian State’s alumnus Jonathan Scales. Taking the calypso-style (style of Afro-Caribbean music) sounds of the Caribbean steel drums, fusing then together with jazz and reggae, and putting them together is his signature. He manipulates the sound of his steel drum in ways that are refreshing, yet distinct in the island sounds.

Photo By Jon Leidel

Photo By Jon Leidel

His band is made up of Ryan Lassiter (drummer and fellow App alumnus), Duane Simpson (guitarist), and Shannon Hoover (bass). Simpson and Hoover are new to the band this year and in Jonathan’s words, “They are ripping it.”

“How do you mix the traditional Caribbean, jazz, reggae in your music?” I asked.

“Well, I’m influenced by everything I’m around, but I didn’t grow up listening to Caribbean music. I grew up like any typical kid, and when I went to college I listened to classical and modern music. That’s pretty much my musical influences,” said Scales.

He named one of his main influences as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He also has other influences like the Derek Trucks Band, Andy Narell, Pat Metheny, Cannonball Adderley, and Chick Corea to name a few. He has also had the opportunity to play with Jeff Sipe (most recently he has toured with Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe and Jimmy Herring Band), Future Man, and Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck’s drummer) and and he has woven all of that influence and knowledge into some cool sounding music.

“In playing with Sipe and Coffin, what inspirational growth have these two given you to help open new musical opportunities? I asked.

“Jeff Coffin in particular is a big influence on me,” Scales said. “I actually tried to get him to play with me on the first CD and he wouldn’t do it. I learned a lot about being professional and producing quality, and the second time around he said he would do it because I proved I could step up.”

Stepping up is exactly what Scales has done. He has produced a second CD, the first being One Track Mind in 2007, titled Plot Scheme. This CD features Jeff Coffin and others, but is full of that jazz, steel drums and Caribbean flavor that’s their signature style and a “more developed sound,” according to Scales.

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra will be at Music On The Mountaintop on August 29, in Boone, N.C. He played the inaugural event last year and put on a very good show. Very refreshing. This year he will move up the totem pole to a better stage.

“What are you going to bring to the table at Music On The Mountaintop? Anything cool?” Scales was asked.

“We’ve got some new music that’s still Jonathan Scales, but some of our newer stuff seems to be edgier than it was before and I don’t know why.” Scales said. “I am also bringing my new lineup. A new and improved band.”

Well, we are looking forward to his show in Boone. He will also have a tour coming to the upstate of South Carolina in the fall so be sure to catch a show. You can catch his sound and play dates online at his MySpace, www.myspace.com/jonathanscales and www.jonscales.com.

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