KBM Productions put on a great show at Connie’s Ric Rac Friday night. The first performer was Jared Jones, a singer-songwriter performing solo with his acoustic guitar. Opening with an original called “With or Without You”, which he assured us had nothing to do with the U2 song of the same name, he ran through a smooth set of originals and covers, including Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” and Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love”, the latter of which he admitted was based on Ed Sheeran’s rendition. Interspersed between each song he shared the story behind its composition or the reason why he liked it with an endearing humor that soon had the audience eating out of his hand. Though both his songs and his performance could use a little polish, his powerful vocals reminded me of the best of the Warped Tour bands I grew up with and his easygoing personality will make for a winning combination on the local circuit as he fine-tunes his skills.
Next up was Dominic Tursi, a Connecticut native currently attending University of the Arts. With fellow student Tyler Lyons adding beats on cajon and effective use of a vocal harmonizer, it was easy to forget there wasn’t a full band on stage performing his laid-back indie pop songs. The two soon had the audience grooving and even singing along to songs they didn’t know, at least for the oohs and ahhs, which were rather frequent in music that would fit nicely on a summer shore playlist next to Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat. This is an artist that is going places, with tunes perfectly suited to various commercial placements and a friendly and inclusive performance style that is sure to build up his audience wherever he goes. Following his set, all the artists present immediately asked him about his vocal processing before the lead support act came on.
That act was Laura Cheadle, a blues singer from New Jersey whose family band immediately kicked things into high gear. With her father on keys, brother on guitar, and a female drummer whose relationship to her seemed to change throughout the set, some of her raunchier covers and originals seemed uncomfortable, but she laughed off the awkwardness, jokingly asking her dad to cover his ears periodically. She’s clearly an experienced performer, hopping down into the crowd to dance with the die-hard fans down front and new converts alike, and generally dashing about the stage with unbridled enthusiasm. She’d gotten things good and sweaty by the time headliners Hazie Blu came on.
Hazie Blu exists primarily as a backing band for various projects, having worked with R&B singers Cody Kahmar, Yufi Zewdu, and others for years, currently focusing on rapper The Bul Bey. They also serve as a springboard for the solo projects of the various members and collaborative performance group, having played songs by guitarist CodeNine, bassist Wil Bond, and former keyboardist Leon Tomas (now known as A’rin Leon). This performance was therefore a blend between their own music and Bey’s, with the latter’s mixtape version of Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do” the clear crowd favorite following Cheadle’s traditionalist performance. CodeNine’s brother Que (pronounced like its first letter) again provided his prodigious talents on both keys and vocals as they tore through a set that had everyone dancing, complete with a demand for an encore that they satisfied with “Say Yeah” from CodeNine & Bey’s collaborative EP. Today they dropped a new song by Wil Bond, the Latin-inflected slow jam “Open Up”, which you can check out here:
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC