MP3 Jason Luckett - Arrogance Procrastination Fear Humility
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12 MP3 Songs
POP: California Pop, FOLK: Modern Folk
(also check out the discs Living Room and Distil on CDBaby)
The Groovy Acoustic Soul movement took its name in 1992, when Grateful Dead piano player, Bruce Hornsby, asked Jason Luckett, "what kind of music do you do?" He'd just given up his electric guitar to get ready for a wander to Europe so he replied, "Groovy Acoustic Soul." Which Bruce twisted into "GAS music." Not quite as descriptive, but the awful mutation by a rock star solidified Jason's moniker.
Jason describes Groovy Acoustic Soul as "music you'd make in the back room of your parents' house...if your parents were Joni Mitchell and Marvin Gaye."
The Southern California singer/songwriter was born in Hawaii, with roots in Mississippi and Maine, USA. If that seems a navigational conundrum, his music clarifies. He brings stories from all stops with residual suburban angst... and a healthy dose of urban consciousness.
It begins with Jason's jazz loving father placing the infant in front of the stereo speakers to see if he'll dance. Eight years later his passion finds focus in an after school program at the Westside Jewish Community Center, listening to his counselor sing folk and rock songs.
Feeling isolated by a move later that year from multicultural Los Angeles to homogenous Irvine, Jason finds a book on Woody Guthrie and begins writing his own songs. This inspires the boy to lug an amp to school to play recess gigs for the kids.
Not much has changed. He continues to take his music out of the bedroom to US and European clubs and colleges. And he takes it to the kids-the inner city teens that he mentors in Los Angeles when not out supporting his CDs. He also puts his music out through film, theater and TV scores.
Four independent releases precede his new disc, "arrogance procrastination fear humility."
Why "arrogance, procrastination, fear, humility?"
It's a cycle I and a lot of people go through all the time and also I think culturally as a nation we go through this cycle, too. It seemed really prescient as I started making this album in September of '01.
On a personal level, I feel a lot has been gifted to me and I can take that for granted. Then I start to doubt myself, think that I haven't worked for anything in my life and if I did I'd fail. Then I put my nose to the grindstone and, with a little help from friends, come up with something I feel is pretty respectable. It's probably a standard middle class state... I put a few of my thoughts about the political application in the CD book.
Who's in your CD player right now?
I've got the new Beck. I listened to a little Aimee Mann yesterday and blasted Nirvana for a bit to exorcise some New Year's funk. I've been on a Charlie Parker kick since I saw Cassandra Wilson sing "Ornithology" on TV the other night. Joni Mitchell's played non-stop in my car this week.
I've this sexy soul idea that people will be listening to me between Isley Brothers and D'Angelo. But in reality it'll probably be in a mix with people like that, Badly Drawn Boy, John Mayer, David Gray, Ani DiFranco and Norah Jones.
What made you want to augment your sound and put so much electric guitar on this record?
I've always loved electric guitar and over the past couple years I've had the opportunity to play it with some really great musicians. I kind of eased up on the solo thing and backed up a few people in their bands. I also scored a couple short films and did music for a few motorcycle commercials. So I've had a lot of opportunities to explore sonic possibilities and wanted to bring that knowledge to my own stuff. And one of the great things about those experiences was that I got to know Est, who plays drums on the disc and with me in a Caribbean/Hip-Hop/Soul group called Kaliband.
I hear hints of Steely Dan, Prince, Paul Simon, and maybe even Travis in this disc, yet there's also poetry, a little reggae, and even some sitar samples mixed into a laid back California soul. What influences were you calling forth when you put this disc together?
Well, it's interesting that you mentioned California. In LA, we're a city of a lot of pain, poverty, crushed dreams, violence, and tangible economic extremes. But it's a place where more often than not you'll have a warm sunny day (eventually!) and have the opportunity to see a beautiful sunset even if it's from the rooftop parking of your local Best Buy. So it's natural to have pain and pleasure co-exist and the overall feeling be of a beautiful and thankful place. So that's what I like about the artists I grew up listening to like Prince, Steely Dan, Simon, Joni Mitchell, and an album like Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks." There's a truthful cohesion of pain, melancholy, and beauty in their work. Certain things will make you uncomfortable, creep you out even, but you get the sense that-even where the artist looks like he may not believe it at times-this huge power of love and creativity will endure. It's definitely not "all good," but love is supreme. (I had this conversation with my sister the other day and I think we're going back to what the folks said in the seventies: "Everything is everything." Ambiguous, but true.)
So, musically, I started feeling that seventies thing when I started layering the tracks, and I was listening to Beth Orton, Travis, D'Angelo, Sade, and Bebel Gilberto's "Tanto Tiempo" while I was putting this together. Also Jaco Pastorius (Joni's bass player on my favorite disc Hejira) has an album called "Word of Mouth" that starts off so painful then releases so beautifully. That was definitely on my mind, too. Also Beck's "Mutations."
Obviously, you've got a wide musical taste. What shaped you growing up musically?
We had a lot of bossa nova in the house as a kid. Lots of Miles Davis. Nina Simone for your heavy and political kick start! The Who, Beatles, the Bobs-Marley and Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder (who actually came to the house once, but that's another story). I was into the Jam, the Smiths, definitely Jimi and the Beatles. I wanted to be in succession: Michael Jackson, Woody Guthrie, Paul McCartney, Jimi, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and then Billy Bragg. I never wanted to be a rapper, but we used to make little rapping phone messages that would freak out my old fashioned (white) grandmother from Maine.
Ah...race, you mentioned it! What's your "Mescege Nation?" (Referring to the song "Celebration.")
Well of course it's a play on the word miscegenation, the old derogatory word for race mixing. I've always tried to address issues of race in my art first because I felt really alone in examining my "status" as a youth. Black Pride didn't work for me completely and the subtle and not subtle racism of my white peers (I grew up in Irvine, CA) definitely didn't work for me. Even if there was Lisa Bonet, and Jennifer Beals, I never heard any discussion or even acknowledgement about what it meant to be biracial. I don't know if these "icons" felt alone in their junior high school. And there certainly weren't any men to identify with, until Lenny Kravitz came along. But that was too late for me and he didn't really seem to break it down in any real sophisticated terms to my mind anyway. So I've been writing about my family and this stuff since I was 9 and in my Woody Guthrie phase. It's interesting, the very first song I wrote was a song about the North and South and loving truth and the world. The second was called "Heartbreak Blues," about the girlfriend I left in LA when I moved to Irvine at 8 years old!
You said it in "...Seriously:" "nothing's really changed."
-Interviewed by Jimmy Rabitte
* "In the spirit of a stripped-down Ben Harper, another passionate guitar-god rises from the steamy armpit of Southern California. ...Luckett is a charismatic, romantic poet who wields lyrical dexterity in his heartbreaking yet inspirational narratives. A refreshing return to pure unadulterated tunage!"-HITS Magazine, Alexa Sherman
* "Armed with nothing more than a jangly acoustic guitar, a pocketful of melodically rich songs, and a voice that will stop you dead in your tracks, Jason Luckett is a reminder that if you search long enough in Los Angeles, you just might find a hidden treasure now and then."-BAM, Pat Lewis
* "...He uses his guitar as an accompaniment to his stellar, expressive voice as well as his intriguing love songs and mesmerizing essays. ... He's a little Sam Cooke, a little Lenny Kravitz, and a little Neil Young. ... His friendly demeanor and barefoot appearance draws you into the moment and relaxes your guard. ... Jason Luckett is just the breath of fresh air that this jaded town needs"-Music Connection
* "...A tasty brew of pop, soul, and folk that's both relaxed and infectiously danceable. They keep things interesting by shifting the tempo and instrumentation, and through it all weaves Luckett's supple, soulful singing."-Victory Review, Richard Middleton
* "...Along comes a singer/songwriter who really shines. Jason Luckett could be billed as a male Tracy Chapman. His songs cast a jaundiced eye at life, love and social issues. Luckett tackles his subject matter with aplomb."-New Times (SLO County), Glen Starkey
* "Luckett is a folksinger who has learned a lot of adjectives to describe all those dysfunctional relationships that are responsible for so many good songs. Bad significant others make for good songs, and Luckett gets emotional for the usual reasons at the right places. He's got a pleasing voice, and that never hurts."-LA Times, Bill Locey
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