SOJA & Dirty Heads

Music Farm Productions Present

SOJA & Dirty Heads

Nahko and Medicine for the People

Tue, October 29, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Moon

Tallahassee, FL

$25.00

This event is 18 and over

Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by someone over the age of 18.

SOJA
SOJA
Mention folk music to the average listener and the list of usual suspects come to mind: Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Woodie Guthrie, etc. Talk to SOJA lead singer/guitarist Jacob Hemphill, however, and you'll walk away with a different perspective. "To me, Rage Against The Machine, Wu -Tang Clan, Sade, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley – they're all folk artists," he says. "There's no difference between Raekwon saying, 'I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side, where staying alive was no jive,' to Bob Marley saying, 'Cold ground was my bed last night and rock was my pillow, too,' to Johnny Cash saying, 'I know I had it coming, I know I can't be free, but those people keep on moving (around) and that's what tortures me.' Folk is all about storytelling and passing on a legacy. It's timeless, it's limitless and it crosses all boundaries. That's what this band is striving for. It's a tall order," he laughs, "but we're making our way."

They're raising the bar with Strength to Survive, their fourth full-length album, an intoxicating mix of hot-rod reggae grooves and urgent, zeitgeist-capturing themes. The album, produced by John Alagia (Dave Matthews, John Mayer, O.A.R.), will be the band's first for ATO, the label co-founded by Dave Matthews.

Hemphill says the album was greatly inspired by Bob Marley's Survival. "That's the greatest reggae album ever made," he says. "It has the best basslines and the best lyrics ever heard on one record. Marley wrote it after he went to Africa. I was 13 or 14 when I listened to it for the first time and it triggered all these long-forgotten memories of when I lived in Africa as a kid. My dad was an IMF res rep in Liberia in the late 80's. I remember when the coup first started --- my family had to hide in these iron bathtubs for 3 days because the military was shooting at everything. I was 7 and that was one of my first memories. We made it out on the last flight. So Africa was always a big part of our lives --- it defined our family, in a way. Music came right after that, so, for me, music was always tied to Africa and music was always something powerful."

Shortly after returning from Africa, Hemphill met Bobby Lee (bass) in the first grade in Virginia. The two instantly became best friends, finding common ground through their love of hip hop, rock and reggae which they performed together at their middle school talent shows. Throughout high school, they met Ryan Berty (drums), Kenneth Brownell (percussion) and Patrick O'Shea (keyboards) and together formed SOJA. The band gigged locally in the DC area while a couple of the guys finished school, all the while making plans to hit the road after graduation. They actually wound up owning the road.

Over the course of the past few years, SOJA has sold more than 150,000 albums, headlined large theaters in more than 15 countries around the world, generated over 20 million+ YouTube views, amassed more than a half-million Facebook fans, and attracted an almost Grateful Dead-like international fanbase that grows with each tour, with caravans of diehards following them from city to city. Most impressive of all, they've accomplished all this on their own. This 7-piece band has spent the past year and a half grinding it out from venue to venue, playing more than 360 dates, including headlining sold-out tours of North and South America, as well as opening for O.A.R. and sharing stages with everyone from Dave Matthews Band to Matisyahu.

With Strength to Survive, the band makes an impassioned call for unity and change with universally relatable songs about faith, hope and love. "I could go on and on about the horrible damage we've done to the earth or the problems that arise when countries compete for money over an imaginary border, but the album has one central theme," says Hemphill, "and that's our hope for the world to be one family."

It's a concept best exemplified in the song "Everything Changes." "People out there with no food at night," sings Hemphill, "And we say we care, but we don't, so we all lie/But what if there's more to this, and one day we become what we do, not what we say/Maybe we need to want to fix it. Maybe stop talking, maybe start listening/ Maybe we need to look at this world less like a square and more like a circle."

Among the album's many highlights is the ethereal "Let You Go," about the road not taken, "Mentality," the disc's hard-hitting opening track, and the one-two punch of "Be With Me Now" and "When We Were Younger," the latter bringing together the macro and the micro with the simple yet resonant line, "All of my answers, now that I'm older, turn into questions."

Hemphill says the band's simple and honest approach to music is what's enabled them to break through obstacles of language, distance and culture in amassing an international following. "What's the alternative – pop music?" he laughs. "Pop music—especially American pop music, is about having money, sleeping with models, living in mansions, spending all of our time in clubs and generally being better than the rest of the world. It's funny, 'cuz everyone here is broke. We sing about different things—things that actually matter. I think our fans appreciate that."

"When I look out in the audience and I see these kids with tears in their eyes, not because I'm singing a love song, but because I'm singing about how the world is dying and we're the only ones who can stop it, that is huge. I live for that. We played a festival in Brazil in front of 80,000 people, and everybody was singing every word—in English. After one of the songs, I told them, 'We're on the road a lot, and people always ask me, "Don't you ever get homesick? Don't you miss your family?" I said, 'It took me awhile to realize this, but this is my home, and you all are my family.' The place just blew up. It was amazing. But it's the truth—those are my people and I always want to do right by them. It's is the only game in town for me."
Dirty Heads
Dirty Heads
The first time I listen to Cabin by the Sea, the new album from The Dirty Heads, it's 40 degrees outside and a cold, bitter rain is lashing against my window.
Inside, it sounds like summer.
"That's exactly what we wanted," says Heads front man Jared "Dirty J" Watson. "It starts with the title. No matter where you are or what's going on, when you hear this record, we want to transport you to this place, this 'Cabin by the Sea.'"
For the SoCal rock/reggae/hip-hop band, Cabin represents more than just good vibes. It's the culmination of years of hard work and endless touring, and a chance to refine and improve on their breakthrough, 2008's Any Port in the Storm. That's not an easy act to follow – their debut album featured one of the decade's biggest rock singles, "Lay Me Down" (which spent eleven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Chart, a record for an independent release and more than any single that year by anyone, including The Black Keys, Kings of Leon and 30 Seconds to Mars) and a shout-out in Rolling Stone as one of year's best new bands.
But the Heads knew better things lay ahead. "Last time was our first time in the studio, working with a producer," says Watson. "This time out, we nailed it. We trimmed the fat and got the sound we were always going for."
Cabin by the Sea was co-produced by Mario C and Lewis Richards - splitting time between Sonic Ranch Studios in Texas and 17th Street Recording Studios in Costa Mesa, CA. Maintaining the diversity from their first album, Cabin ranges from sunny acoustic pop (the title track) to hip-hop with mariachi horns ("Disguise") and feel-good reggae ("Day by Day," "Your Love"). The album's defining trait? An insistence on positivity and good vibes (with an herbal assist), a philosophy summed up nicely by the single, "Spread Too Thin." "It's about having too much going on, work or whatever is stressing you out," says guitarist Dustin "Duddy B" Bushnell. "It's about needing a breather in life."

(The album's one outlier, "Smoke Rings," is a punk/hip-hop fueled rager. "We've matured, but we still have that side of us," says Bushnell. "It's talking shit for a couple of minutes, and we use a sample from an old movie called Satan's Satanists. It's fun, nothing more than that.")
While Port contained an expanded roster of guest stars, from M. Shadows to Billy Preston (best known for his work with the Beatles), Cabin keeps the guest list tight. Still, a few A-level names make an appearance, including a return engagement from Rome (from Sublime with Rome), Del the Funky Homosapien, Ky-Mani Marley and Hasidic hip-hop star Matisyahu. "He's awesome. We got to know him years ago on tour," says Bushnell. "We had built this great relationship, so we asked him to guest on a track. He came down to the studio and knocked it out of the park."
The recognizable guest stars, big tours and hit songs are a long way from the group's humble origins in Bushnell's garage. Back in 1996, school friends Watson and Bushnell started their musical career almost on accident. "It was hilarious: I was in a punk band, but Jared had no musical inclination," remembers the guitarist. "Then one day he started rapping over these cheesy hip-hop songs I'd make with Casio beats, and I'm like, wow, you're really good!" (Note to fans: Bushnell recently rediscovered tapes of those teenage sessions, but don't plan on hearing anything in the near future)
The group, later rounded out by percussionist Jon Olazabal, drummer Matt Ochoa and bassist David Foral, eventually outgrew the funny rap vibe and developed a local following as an acoustic hip-hop group. Surprisingly, the Heads grew to be very successful on a small label with little to no resources, an indication of their organic momentum and appeal. The Dirty Heads are now signed to a worldwide deal with Five Seven Music.
The group plans to spend the rest of the year on a number of different tours. For now, though, you can experience the band's sunny, good-time outlook on their new record. "Whatever has happened to us over the years, we've always kept a mindset about staying positive and squashing negativity," says Watson. "And that's the vibe we had making this album. I think that comes across to anyone who hears it."
Cabin By The Sea will be released on June 19, 2012.
Venue Information:
The Moon
1105 East Lafayette St.
Tallahassee, FL, 32303
http://tally.moonevents.com/