People’s Blues of Richmond
Opener: Jordan Okrend Experience
People's Blues of Richmond brings a carnival-like mayhem to their dark, blues-infused psychedelia. The power trio’s new album Quit or Die is their third studio release and was recorded in Richmond, Va at The Ward Recording Studio with Ricky Olson. Within the past 24 months they have signed with Madison House Booking, toured full time, put out a full length album released June 10th, 2016 and recorded a 7-inch LP produced & engineered by the highly sought-after Mark Neill, the man behind The Black Key’s platinum-selling, Grammy-winning Brothers record.
“The reason we pursued Mark—we already had a pretty firm grasp on our frenetic live sound but making a song sound beautiful in the studio is a whole other animal,” says singer-guitarist Tim Beavers II. “Mark’s sound doesn’t come from a million digital studio tricks on his computer, but from a diligent set up, an intimate understanding of sound, and a belief in himself, his gear and in the bands he’s recording. Working with him, we learned how to push ourselves harder than ever before.”
With the anticipated new album on the way, word is starting to spread about the manic intensity of PBR’s live performances as they burn up the road, sharing bills with an impressive collection of artists from Tom Petty, ZZ Top, and The Allman Brothers to J Roddy Walston & the Business and festival favorites Modest Mouse & Gogol Bordello.
People’s Blues of Richmond co-founders and lifelong friends Beavers and Matt Volkes (bass, backing vox) began playing music together in college as a way to grieve the loss of a mutual friend. Those bleak, drug-fueled days pushed the two into an artistic bender of rock and blues that led to their 2011 debut LP, Hard-On Blues. They followed with the self-released Good Time Suicide in 2013, the album recorded on the exact same handmade ’68 Flickinger board used to record T. Rex’s Futuristic Dragon. Immediately following this album, People’s Blues of Richmond’s lineup finally solidified with the addition of friend and powerhouse drummer Neko Williams (son of Drummie Zeb of legendary reggae band The Wailers).
After years together, on the road and off, the three are more than just bandmates, they’re brothers. It’s a camaraderie that show in their music and beyond. “No matter what, we look out for each other,” Volkes says. “If I have a sandwich, Tim and Neko get a bite, too. We’re all in this together.”
“The whole concept behind People’s Blues of Richmond,” Beavers says, “is that we all struggle, we all experience pain. Life is full of highs and lows, and we all work hard to survive. So we do the only thing we know how—we get out on the road, and we keep moving forward. We become a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Jordan Okrend Experience
The Jordan Okrend Experience is more than one thing. First, there is the signature sound,
vintage pop imbued with an infectious funky jazz edge. There is also something else. Soulful
music with socially conscious lyrics, that has all been but lost in today’s current pop climate.
The Asheville NC based singer/songwriter released his first two EP’s, Unpredictable and
Rising Up, between 2010 and 2012 while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston and
has been performing extensively throughout the East Coast ever since. His 2015 EP World
Keeps Turnin was a clear indication that Okrend had thrown his hat into the ring of other soul
revival upstarts such as Allen Stone and Michael Kiwanuka. The EP blended the old school
with the contemporary while echoing the conscious elements of his musical heroes-Lennon,
Hendrix and Marley. Since settling in Asheville NC in 2016, Okrend has continued with his
impressive musical journey. He was a winner in Asheville's Brown Bag Songwriting
Competition and was also named as one of the top acts to see at MONDO, NYC.
Okrend's new album, Dance By The Riverside is a buoyant meditation of the stresses of the
modern world, with a distinctively funk and retro soul vibe. It may bring to mind classic soul
artists like Stevie Wonder, but has a sound that firmly belongs in these times. With lyrics that
reference “social media” as in the single Dance by The Riverside, the phenomenon of
“ghosting” as in the hooky electric guitar driven Stranded, the call for “Unity” in the bonus live
acoustic track written in response to the 2016 election, these songs resonate.
Recorded at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville, NC with engineer Robert George, there is a
certain uncontrived timeless quality in the material that resulted from Jordan's spontaneous
approach to playing and recording. Four of the eight tracks on the album are marked by their
use of horns that echo over catchy hooks including the single, Dance By The Riverside. The
single also made into an Official Video was filmed by the French Broad River in Asheville,
NC and captures the joy, freedom and positive vibes of Jordan's music. "The emphasis is on
speaking to the human experience”, Okrend asserts. "I hope this album inspires and uplifts
all who hear it.”