3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
Our first glimpse into the heart and soul of Jake Clemons came in 2013 with release of his debut EP, Embracing Light. With just a few original songs, this gifted singer and multi-instrumentalist offered a bewitching hint at how much he had to say and the intricate way he said it. Now, with Jake’s current full-length album Fear & Love (released in January 2017,) we are allowed a deeper appreciation of what Clemons has to offer.
There’s the hair, then there are the glasses, but ultimately there is a person who is a magnet for positive energy, emotion and creating stories. In short, Jake continues to make a deep connection in the present by living life to its’ fullest through a musical journey.
Growing up in Virginia as the son of a Marine Corps band director and as the nephew of the legendary Clarence Clemons, Jake began his musical career studying jazz performance at the Virginia Governor’s School For The Arts. Over the years while crafting his skills in writing and recording, Jake’s musical ability evolved to include vocals,guitar, piano, drums and of course, the saxophone.
The Jake Clemons Band was created in 2010 and since then Jake has been living on a perpetual world tour, traveling throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe, performing at venues and “Legendary Living Room” shows across the globe. Jake has graced many stages performing alongside a variety of artists including Tom Morello, Glen Hansard, The Swell Season, The Roots, Roger Waters and Eddie Vedder to name a few.
Dividing his time between touring the world with his own music and spending the last five years as the tenor and baritone saxophonist with Bruce Springsteen’s E
Street Band (stepping in for his Uncle, the late Clarence Clemons,) Jake had time to think of the sound and the direction for Fear & Love, laying the first parts of this album’s foundation at the same time that his EP Embracing Light was in progress.
“When I put Embracing Light together, I changed the way that I approached recording. A lot of that was due to a conversation that I had with Bruce about having a theme and a concept for each record. Because some of the songs he had written did not quite fit the “Embracing Light” theme, Clemons set them aside knowing that Fear & Love was going in a different direction. “It’s more introspective,” he explains. “Instead of looking up at the moment and carrying hope to the next moment, this album reflects the ‘right now that you feel inside’ as opposed to the ‘right now” that’s external.
Reflecting on his late father’s influence on his own musical experience, Jake notes: “My father was a bandleader in the United States Marines and a very observant Southern Baptist so we always had music in the house and would all gather around the piano and sing...although we weren’t allowed to sing anything but gospel. Still, he was and still is a humongous influence to me. He was a great band director and no matter how it started, every band he worked with was first-class by the time he’d finished. That affected my approach to leading a band and feeling out what I’m going for. Even now, although I like to think of myself as a bit of a rebel, I operate better when there’s some sense of parameters that I am working in.”
Jake took these experiences and by July of 2015 had decided to focus all of his energy on Fear & Love. To chart a musical direction that would complement the messages he wanted to convey, Clemons followed an unlikely muse. “I listened to a lot of Beethoven, a lot of heavy, emotive classical music,” he says. “I immersed myself in it on almost a daily basis. I wanted to compose my songs so that they could really convey emotions, so you could feel the lows and the highs. When it came from a deep, dark place, I wanted it to sound deep and dark. And when it came from a light and exciting place, I wanted that to come through the music as much as through the lyrics.”
The title Fear & Love frames the range of emotions that Clemons explores through the eleven song album beginning with a cacophony of hurricane warnings leading into “Hold Tight” and culminating in an exhilarating collision of restlessness and romance of “Move On.”
“Clearly,the first half of the record is darker and heavier,” he says. “On the first track, ‘Hold Tight,’ the lyrics begin with ‘Hold tight, she’s a hurricane.’ Then it goes to a song called ‘Janine,’ which deals with an abusive relationship. The chorus is, ‘Get out while you can. This isn’t love.’ Eventually we get to the up-side of the record, with the “Move On” and “A Little Bit Sweet.”
Singing, playing guitar and a multitude of other instruments (including some of
that muscular tenor on “Just Stay”, “A Little Bit Sweet” and “All Undone”),
Clemons gives voice to intimate doubts and conflicted feelings through a long and powerful crescendo on “The Burning” and shares fear and hope on “Fear &
Love” (“I was born to break hearts/If you get too close, you’ll get torn apart/ By the way, what’s your name?”) and creates a disaster-ridden metaphor for falling in love on “SickBrokenBroken” that’s somehow light-hearted, hilarious and painful at the same time
Fear & Love is clearly but one step in what promises to be a long path leading ever deeper into the poetic essence of Jake Clemons. Already he is an artist in his own right, with an eloquence and passion that’s rare even among the legends of music. Perhaps the most exciting part of this picture is its confirmation that much more can be expected from this extraordinary talent.
“There are things I’m still sorting out, things I’ll be exploring in years to come,” he affirms. “Even now, I’m still a work in progress.”
Fear & Love was released January 13, 2017.
Purpose brings clarity to our lives. While on tour in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, graffiti art emblazoned with the sobering slogan "Hard Times For Dreamers" brought a lifelong music journey into stark focus for singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Brian Fitzy. It galvanized him into making a musical statement about the harsh realities of today.
The multi-medium Mexican artist Sleepwalck made the tag. Its placement on a bleak intersection in an impoverished section of town surrounded by palatial resort and well-to-do living accommodations, conjured a metaphor that was hard to ignore. The dissonance in the imaging paralleled today's global sociopolitical struggles. The mashup of it all crystalized a 1990s hip-hop and pop-infused pan genre approach of non-related musical statements and styles in fertile conversation. Brian took a picture of the tag—used with permission of the artist (he reached out via Instagram)—and his photo graces the cover of his debut album. The image reflected the diverse strains of music incubating inside Brian, and a renewed lyrical mission. And it's all here on the headphone masterpiece, Hard Times For Dreamers.
"The image hit me, and I started having dialogues with people over there and back home about where we are and where we are going," Brian says. "The record snapshots struggles and life experiences that I couldn't face sitting down. I had to stand up and write about them."
Brian grew up with a musician mother who turned him onto prog-rock and fusion at an early age. By 9, he was playing violin. Soon his prodigious talents began to shine through, and it wasn't long before he was sitting in with professionals such as Philadelphia legend John Blake when Blake played his elementary school. From then on, each year he would learn a new instrument, building a veritable symphonic skill set. Upon graduating from high school, Brian formalized his talent through earning a degree in classical instrumental performance on violin from West Chester University.
Brian's post-college career began with a bang when he performed with the Foo Fighters at the Grammy Awards as a Top 3 finalist in the "My Grammy Moment" competition. That performance garnered him support and features from TV stations such as 6ABC, NBC10, and CBS3 in Philadelphia, as well as prime regional radio coverage. Since then, Brian's career has blossomed as a solo artist and a sideman. He's performed everywhere from dives to Madison Square Garden. He's also earned endorsements from Fishman Transducers, Wood Violins, and Westone. In addition, he's had the good fortune of working with bands he grew up admiring such as Rusted Root and members of the Roots Crew.
Hard Times For Dreamers was initially titled "1993" as a nod to Brian's favorite era of hip-hop, epitomized by Pete Rock and CL Smooth. During that fertile time, hip-hop was the vanguard of musicality for many, pushing the envelope with intrepid sonic layers, esoteric post-modern references enabled by sampling technology, adventurous arrangements, infectious hooks, and rugged beats.
As a formative exercise, Brian initiated a YouTube series titled "Throwback Thursday" in which he painstakingly replicated these classics in real time. In these episodes, he would use looping technology, and many innovative one-man producer strategies to bring these classic to cuts life. He would even mimic minute details like stray audio hisses buried deep beneath isolated samples of Herbie Hancock and Weather Report musical motifs. In addition, he memorized and recited each track's classic rhymes.
This labor of love honed his multi-instrumentalist skills. However, the seeds of this approach were sown earlier when, out of necessity, Brian turned to looping when he realized he couldn't continue to afford to hire a full band to play his songs. Looping enabled him to combine his virtuosic violin playing, his breezy funk guitar playing, his beatboxing skills, and his soulful vocals and rhyming gifts.
Although Brian is a capable producer, he let Joe Nicolo (Kris Kross, Lauryn Hill, Fugees, Cypress Hill, Schoolly D) take the production reins, allowing him to focus on the album's intricate layers and the album's carefully crafted track sequence. Hard Times For Dreamers boasts a classic A-side/B-side flow with an uplifting conceptual sweep—the lyrical bend gets more hopeful on the second side. Throughout the album, gritty hip-hop sonic collages breakup song blocks, lending the record a throwback feel to monumental hip-hop full-lengths from back in the day.
Hard Times For Dreamers opens with a manifesto of hope on the invigorating soul-pop track, "Your Hero Never Dies." Here, Brian recasts 1970s Philly soul with lush orchestral soundscapes, rugged hip-hop beats, touches of electro-pop, and invigorating modern R&B hooks. The A-side's sense of doom and darkness sets in by track four with the ominous hip-hop of "On The Run." The track's gritty production lends a sense of film noir urgency and pained confusion. One of the great treats of the album is the old-school interludes, and the fifth track, "Preserve Disorder" is a gem. It features stanky 1970s funk keyboard riffs, abrupt musical direction shifts, a lethal beat, and an onslaught of barbed rhymes.
The second half of the album, beginning with track nine, aptly titled "Ode To Hope," begins the album's uplift. This is a stunning piece of ambient music that moves glacially and gorgeously, ushering the listener into the B-side. Standouts in this section include the retro-futuristic soul of "No Idea" which vibes Jamiroquai, and the album's centerpiece, the title track. "Hard Times For Dreamers" is a journey unto itself. It begins with somber minor key piano, then locks into a bluesy rollicking waltz, and finally sails away with a soaring string section and major-key melodicism, painting a sonic picture of optimism.
Upon completing the album, Brian hosted an in-studio listening party back home in Philly, selecting 30 people from a broad cross section of friends and family for lively dialogue. "That day in the studio carried so much weight for me. It gave me hope in so many ways. It reminded me of the power of music, and it showed me how this album did exactly what I hoped it would do. It's been a hell of ride, but I've finally taken steps in a fully realized set of shoes."
$18 SRO - $22 Seated + Fees
Mezzanine tickets are subject to a premium service fee that will be applied at checkout.