Ancient meets modern at Opal
October 16, 2008
Jamie Janover and LYNX are likely to throw listeners for a loop, but the duo is confident that Tahoe will enjoy the journey.
“I think people who haven’t seen us don’t know exactly what to expect, and then they’re pleasantly surprised,” Janover said by cell phone while driving up the coast from Southern California to Santa Cruz, then Nevada City and Tahoe, where they’ll play Friday, Oct. 17. “It’s breaking ground somewhere, somehow, and how is up to other people to define.”
LYNX and Janover have been touring since the spring, giving them plenty of time to define their sound as a duo. Since playing April 19 at Opal inside the MontBleu Casino Resort & Spa for an Earth Day benefit, they’ve been playing the West Coast and have appeared at festivals including Burning Man, High Sierra Lightning in a Bottle and Earthdance.
“We’ll probably make it a regular stop,” Janover said of Tahoe. “We love it up there: It’s beautiful, good peeps.”
Both musicians hail from Boulder, Colo. LYNX, now 23, has been performing since the age of 7, and blends guitar with singing, rhyming and beat-boxing. Her focus on lyrics highlighting peace and justice are on display on her new album, “Grain of Sand.”
For Janover, a national champion on the hammered dulcimer, the collaboration with LYNX grew out of Zilla, which featured Michael Travis from the String Cheese incident, as well as Aaron Holstein.
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If mixing and looping a hammered dulcimer, mini-percussion kit, electronic folk and hip-hop beats into multiple live loops and layers sounds like a random combination, LYNX and Janover cast it as a multifaceted sound that encompasses a number of dualities: male and female, an ancient instrument with modern technology, song structure spinning off into fractal loops.
“Very soon, we’re going to need to remember ancient wisdom from this planet and at the same time incorporate it with the most modern of technologies.”
Janover embraced one critic’s description of the duo as “Ani DiFranco meets Zilla meets Rahzel,” throwing psybient DJ Bluetech into the mix as well. LYNX’s songs “Shout It Out” and “Just One Step” have emerged as favorites, with the duo branching out and improvising often as well.
“I’d say it’s about the same as, say, a jazz band or a jam band or Indian music ” something where there’s a structure, and within the structure, the freedom to improvise a lot,” Janover said.
Those who haven’t heard Janover and LYNX should expect something completely different. Those who saw the duo play at the Opal Ultra Lounge should expect a different show: After all, it was only their fourth performance as a duo, and since then, they’ve honed their sound at big festivals and little clubs; being the only performers at acoustic shows with a laptop and the only performers with strings at electronic shows.
“We’re better,” Janover said. “We’ve done a lot of shows between then and now. Like anything, it’s a never-ending, evolving process.”
“You’ve got to have a good time. That’s the point right now is for everybody to enjoy themselves while they can because we’ve got to stick together out here,” Janover said. “And by ‘they,’ I mean the human race, and by ‘out here,’ I mean on this planet.”
Drinking with Clowns opens the show for Janover and LYNX. The band came together in Reno when guitarist Baldo Bobadilla met drummer Marrio Williams, a former boxer who left Kansas to look for new horizons, according to the band’s Web site. Keys player Daniel Lopez moved to Reno after touring with a Peruvian jazz band and signed on. The rhythm section of bassist Junior Franco, an Iraq war veteran, and former hard-rock drummer Kris Trujillo completed the lineup.
The Reno-based band blends Latin rhythms and funk, Spanish, English and Spanglish. Drinking with Clowns debuted with “Mind Your Head” in December and also appeared on last year’s Carbon Drum R&B Hip-Hop Compilation.
Alfred Howard and the K23 Orchestra close the show. Bandleader Howard, percussionist Steve Craft, 6-foot-8 guitarist Ian Wright, Matt LaBarber on bass and keyboard player Josh Rice combine funk, spoken-word, soul, rock and psychedelia, winning the San Diego Music Award for best funk or hip-hop band each year from 2003-06.