Boombox delivers elemental funk rock from the banks of the Tennessee River

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:: BoomBox :: Fox Theatre :: April 24 ::
:: Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom :: April 25 ::
:: Hodi’s Half Note :: April 26 ::

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By Dustin Huth

Every so often a band will come onto the scene with a new and completely original sound that somehow, at the same time, feels like it has always existed. BoomBox are just such a band, and their sound is definitely that kind of a sound: a stripped-down and elemental incarnation of psychedelic funk rock, with well-balanced and unassuming vocals that deliver abstract imagery and storylines at an unhurried pace, paying little attention to things like clocks on walls or conventional song structures.

Maybe this whole instant timelessness phenomenon is linked to the fact that Russ Randolph, producer/engineer, DJ and drummer for the band was raised in the musically renowned Muscle Shoals district of Alabama, a quiet little cluster of towns along the Tennessee River that, since the 1960s, has been responsible for recording an eclectic collection of some of the most important tracks in American popular music. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that guitarist and singer Zion Godchaux has Grateful Dead blood flowing through his veins, and is the bearer of a prized piece: a guitar given to him by Jerry Garcia, himself. But most likely, those things are just interesting side notes, and it’s more a result of the fact that both Randolph and Godchaux feel that they play music because that’s what they were put here to do, and they have taken it upon themselves to follow that calling.

“Every person in this walk of life has some job or purpose, and this is, I believe, our purpose,” said Randolph in a late night interview with The Marquee as the band’s van rolled across the Alabama/Mississippi state line toward the next day’s show in St. Louis.

From Godchaux’s perspective, it’s less like BoomBox are the creators of the music they play, and more like they are conduits through which it is communicated from some other source. This channeling concept translates to the writing of lyrics as well as the music.

“I just have faith in the way that the words sound and the way that they came down the pipe, that they hit on some level,” said Godchaux. “So I’ll just hang out with a tune, and sometimes it’ll be like a year before I really start to understand what’s going on behind it. But once again, it’s that thing where we’re understanding more and more about what it is we’re doing and it comes in different pieces of revelation, I guess.”

With lyrics that seem to be transmitted rather than constructed, one might expect BoomBox’s songs to carry in them some direct message, but in reality they tend to be more of a series of images that piece together a moment.

“For me, a song is like a place and it can be whatever world you want it to be, that we can all hang out in if we want to,” said Godchaux. “I’m not out to tell anybody that I know what’s best for them. So I guess I try to just create songs that perpetuate an environment that would maybe let them find out what’s best for them on their own. It’s like a path or an adventure, and I’m on it too. I’m right there on that path in that world. It’s just a place.”

There is one line, though, in the song “Midnight on the Run,” that definitely does tell you what’s right for you when it suggests that, “You better put ‘em on, your dancin’ shoes.” But anyone who got to see BoomBox back in December when they played four consecutive nights in four different Colorado cities, knows that this advice is not to be taken lightly. The band’s approach to playing live is very spontaneous and responsive to the energy of the crowd. They make changes in the moment to ensure that BoomBox and their fans remain in tune with one another for the duration.

“We’re up there reading a crowd to make sure they’re still having a good time with what’s going on, and that we’re not completely separate from them,” explained Randolph. “As long as we’re all in it together it’s all good, so we try to keep that separation down as much as possible.”

For the Colorado run, Boom Box is teaming up with Colorado-based nonprofits, Conscious Alliance, and The Basics Fund. Conscious Alliance raises money, awareness, and collects canned food for the hungry by providing anyone who donates $10 or 10 cans of food at a BoomBox show with a custom-drawn BoomBox poster as a part of its “Art that Feeds” campaign. The Basics Fund raises money to pay for artists’ health insurance by organizing bus parties to local and national art and music-related events, including all four of the Colorado BoomBox shows. For more information on the charities that Boombox is supporting, visit www.consciousalliance.org, and www.thebasicsfund.org.

:: BoomBox ::
:: Fox Theatre :: April 24 ::
:: Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom::
:: April 25 ::
:: Hodi’s Half Note :: April 26 ::

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