The Aristocrats

The Aristocrats

The word "supergroup" is tossed around a lot in instrumental music circles, the result of a seemingly endless supply of efforts to package together individual virtuoso players and make a band out of them. But every once in a while, the group part of that shopworn term becomes authentic and real. Such is the case with The Aristocrats – guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller, and drummer Marco Minnemann – who defiantly and joyously blow the supergroup stereotype to bits, thrilling audiences and fans around the world in the process.

Let's get the requisite individual credentials out of the way:

* Guthrie Govan is arguably the hottest guitarist on the international music scene today, and his 2006 solo album Erotic Cakes was widely recognized as an instant classic. His top-level touring experience (Asia/GPS, U.K. rap superstar Dizzee Rascal) complements his busy schedule as one the most in-demand guitar clinician/educators in the world, and he was featured on the cover of Guitar Player Magazine in July of 2011;

* Bryan Beller's numerous credits include guitarists Steve Vai (Beller's featured on Vai's 2009 live DVD Where The Wild Things Are), Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa), and the hugely popular metal "band" Dethklok, borne of the Adult Swim (U.S.) animated TV show Metalocalypse. His solo artist catalog includes three CD's, two DVD's, and an instructional DVD for Alfred Publishing, and he was featured on the cover of Bass Player Magazine in October of 2012;

* Marco Minnemann has played with everyone from Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and Adrian Belew (Zappa, King Crimson) to technical death metal specialists Necrophagist, and is looked upon by fans and peers as one of the most gifted, innovative, cutting-edge drummers in the world. He's graced the covers of several drum magazines, including Modern Drummer. Perhaps less known: He's a multi-instrumentalist and compulsively productive composer with nearly twenty CD & DVD solo releases to date.

Despite their individual followings, The Aristocrats' formation was a matter of considerable happenstance on a barely-paying gig. Beller and Minnemann had a trio slot scheduled at the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, CA in January of 2011, and their guitarist was a late dropout. Govan was a last-minute replacement who they met for the first time in rehearsal, the night before the show. The electricity was immediately obvious, with their unbeknownst-to-them shared influences infusing a high-energy instrumental fusion with an aggressive, playful, even cheeky edge.

The single 45-minute set they performed the following night unexpectedly floored the audience – and themselves – with near-telepathic interplay and boundless musical energy, leaving heads shaking in disbelief that it was their very first gig. The response was overwhelming, and the band formed practically by demand on the spot. "The chemistry was so great," recalls Govan, "that when we came offstage we all said to each other, 'This is working. We should record this.'"

A mere three months later, the band convened in person in Chicago – eschewing the usual remote file sharing method in favor of actual live band chemistry – and tracked their debut album in just eight days. Consisting of nine tracks (three contributions from each member), the music turned out to be a melting pot of their respective influences, ranging from the seminal '70s jazz-rock fusion of Return To Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra, to the progressive rock of King Crimson and UK, to guitar heroes like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, to the absurdly complex and satirical music of Frank Zappa and Mike Keneally, and even to '90s groove metal like Rage Against The Machine. But this strange brew is peppered with memorable melodies, myriad shifts in dynamics, and sensitive treatment of musical timbres that explore the limits of what the electric guitar, electric bass and drums in a power trio can achieve.

Beller says of the tunes, "We ended up using our different influences to write for each other. I wrote "Sweaty Knockers" specifically for Guthrie to have fun with, while Guthrie wrote "I Want A Parrot" with bass leads in mind. As for Marco's material, we're just lucky to be able to keep up with it."

The ever-mischievous Minnemann's song titles – such as "Boing!…I'm In The Back" (borne from a publicly indescribable incident in Russia) and "Blues Fuckers" (in which a typical blues form is violated in every way imaginable) – along with Beller's "Sweaty Knockers," prompted Govan to wonder if the band shouldn't be named The Aristocrats, after the infamous dirty joke and movie of the same name. It stuck, and The Aristocrats were born. "We're going to have a raucous rock vibe and a sense of humor about the music," says Govan, "which you might not expect to find in other muso projects in which people are flung together to make an album in a hurry."

The band released The Aristocrats on their own label, BOING Music, in September of 2011. It was universally praised as one of the most interesting and groundbreaking instrumental albums of the year in publications from America to Japan, France, Germany, and around the world. Seemingly every major guitar magazine took the opportunity to finally do their feature or cover story on Guthrie Govan, and the album appeared on many of that year's top ten lists. Music schools in particular felt the impact, as a wave of students took to covering Aristocrats tunes much in the same way Steve Vai's Passion And Warfare inspired players a generation ago.

As of 2012, the band has successfully toured both coasts and the Midwest/mid-south of America, eastern Canada, the U.K., Benelux, France, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Poland, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Israel, Korea, and Japan. The band's live energy and otherwordly chemistry are captured on the DVD/2CD release BOING, We'll Do It Live! The Aristocrats At Alvas Showroom, which is set for a December 2012 release. Looking to the future, the band plans to start tracking its second studio album in January of 2013.

The key thing to remember is that The Aristocrats are a true band. Whether it's about the music, the touring plans, the record artwork and sequence, the business decisions, or what have you, everyone has an equal say. Perhaps Guthrie said it best when he used the phrase "a rowdy democracy of musicianship."

It's not just fusion. It's not just shredding. It's not even meant to be taken seriously at times. It's just the sound of a new band, consisting of three guys who did a NAMM show gig and discovered they had something musically deep going on together…and also had a propensity for employing R-rated song titles.

So what do you call an act like that?

The Aristocrats.

Magic Jackson

Magic Jackson mashes searing guitar solos with a groove-based rhythm section of dance beats, slap bass, and chicken scratch guitar to create a signature sound that is fresh yet familiar. MJ blur the line between the genres of rock and funk to create music that, one moment, will conjure imagery of classic soul and blues, while the next will have you on your feet bouncing to the hard-hitting thump of dance music.

Influences ranging from Jamiroquai, Parliament Funkadelic, Ohio Players and Slave, to Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers have allowed Magic Jackson to bring a multi-faceted, yet widely appreciated original style to a diverse fan base.

Primarily defined by high energy live performances, Magic Jackson has entertained audiences at clubs, theaters, and music festivals across the midwest since 2008. Dayton-area Music Critic Don Thrasher describes Magic Jackson's music as "lascivious white-boy funk" and their live show is a true reflection of that vision. The unique talents and diverse songwriting skills MJ brings to the stage showcase a cohesive package steeped in vamping, improvisation, and unorthodox song structure. The band is known for getting the party started and is regularly tapped by promoters and talent buyers to get crowds warm for national touring acts.

In 2009, MJ released their first studio album, “Freak Tab”, which was ranked one of the top 5 local releases of that year by The Dayton City Paper, continues to receive great reviews from industry professionals, and has sold out of hard copies. The self produced album hearkens back to the decades-old traditions of the funk masters while staying true to the raw grit of the Dayton music scene of the past 30 years and has been widely accepted by all types of music fans.

In 2011, Magic Jackson went back into the studio to work on their second full length album. Armed with some bass grooves, a few big hooks, and a general concept for the bigger picture of what they wanted to create, MJ wrote the majority of their follow up album in the studio as they were recording it. Entitled "Venus In Transit", this effort is the true collaboration of an eclectic blend of ideas and comes correct with a dirty batch of streetwise funk-rock, ranging from the lighthearted party anthem, to bitter breakup songs, and social commentary tinged with a blunt truthfulness not seen in today's pop landscape. Through it all, the band delivers scintillating grooves, sizzling guitar interplay, and the huge sing-along choruses that the band is so well known for. Tapping into the sloshy grooves, throbbing beats, and gang vocals characteristic of the funk that put Dayton on the music map, Magic Jackson achieves a melody oriented, rhythmically driven collection of polished funk tunes realized through a filter of distortion and blue collar attitude synonymous with the stripped down abandonment and riff rock sensibility of a garage band. The 2012 release arrives with substance, style and a spirit that captures the aggressive, in-your-face vibe of their live show.

In an ailing music industry, saturated with artists frantically clamoring for your attention, for this hardworking group, the mission is clear and the philosophy is simple: produce music that is straightforward and honest, fun to listen to, fun to play, rocks hard, funks harder.

School Of Rock Mason

School of Rock Mason is a performance-oriented music school that opened in 2012. Since then its students have put on more than 70 different shows, with new shows performed every four months. The school offers lessons, performance programs, summer camps, and workshops for kids and adults. It has programs suitable for beginning to advanced students.



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