This Friday and Saturday, Jubilee!JAM returns to Capitol Street in downtown Jackson. National juggernauts Ludacris and The Black Crowes headline, but hometown heroes Jesse Robinson, Jonezetta, Kamikaze, Storage 24, Owen Beverly and Colour Revolt deserve the limelight for keeping music alive in Mississippi. We didn't have room for all the locals, so we focused on Colour Revolt and Beverly as two emerging Mississippi artists. Go out and support all of them, and holla at the national acts, too. For a full schedule, visit Jubilee!JAM's website.
I DO APPRECIATE YOU BEING 'ROUND
by Matt Saldaña
Three months ago, the young men of Mississippi's Colour Revolt made the proverbial trip West—South by Southwest, to be precise, to the Austin, Texas, music festival bearing the same cardinal direction as its name. Over the past several years, SXSW has emerged as a breeding ground for bands good enough to make it on the strength of their music alone. Sounding a bit like what might have happened if Kurt Cobain had taken Nirvana's roots-inspired "Unplugged in New York" set and made a touring punk-rock Sigur Rós outfit, Colour Revolt certainly has the chops to hold up without the crutches of shtick or subgenre.
Five college kids from Ole Miss who formed out of high school bands at Jackson Academy and Jackson Prep, Colour Revolt set out deceptively dry behind the ears and boldly charting the path of their horizon-chasing predecessors. If this were 1967, they might have been headed to San Francisco. 1987, Los Angeles. But in 2007, musical dreams are made and broken in Austin.
At a tour stop in Dallas, Colour Revolt's dreams were nearly shattered. In the time it took to gather up their swag at the merch table after a show, their van and trailer—along with all of their personal belongings and the instruments—were stolen.
In the 1960s, that might have been the end of Colour Revolt's tour—and depending on their resilience, their career. But Colour Revolt are both resilient and modern. Taking advantage of just about every type of media, the band sent out a plea for help—on the local Dallas TV station, in newspapers back home in Jackson and, perhaps most effectively, on their highly trafficked MySpace page. In a March 13 blog post reprinted verbatim on the Jackson Free Press Web site, they listed their van's license plate number and every item stolen—most with accompanying serial numbers. The "equipment manifest" included more than 100 items, varying from an Electro Harmonics Big Muff guitar pedal to a Fender Jazzmaster guitar to a Roc-N-Soc bicycle-style drum throne. At the bottom, the page included a link to donate money online.
The response was enormous. Fans expressed sympathy and anger on Colour Revolt's MySpace wall, scoured Craigslist.org classified ads in Dallas, and donated with equal fervor.
"I never knew we had that many fans," says Sean Kirkpatrick, who joined the band as a guitarist/vocalist in 2005, during the recording of the band's beautifully rendered self-titled debut EP. "We never had a showing of hands of who's a fan of Colour Revolt. People (usually) just randomly send MySpace messages and say, 'Hey, come over to Australia.' People just started donating, and they really felt for us. They saw that we were very poor, and had accumulated this musical equipment since we were in 10th grade. We definitely weren't going to be able to buy all this stuff back."
In a time of cynical MySpace promotion—bands asking other bands to be their "friends" so each one can boost their "fan base"—Colour Revolt's 19,000 MySpace friends began to seem a little more lifelike.
Bear Colony—a Jackson band on Colour Revolt's Esperanza record label—wrote: "We love you guys, and we're sorry this happened."
AutomaticBoy, a Wyoming band, wrote: "Guys, I'm so sorry for this loss. Here's to a speedy recovery and continuation of your incredible music career."
Things quickly began looking up. Borrowing gear from friends, the band managed to play their four scheduled shows in Austin. In a twist of fate, Energizer, the battery company, gave the band a giant check for $500—delivered by the Energizer Bunny himself.
"Getting our photos taken with a huge, life-sized Energizer Bunny behind us—that was surreal," Kirkpatrick says. "We still hadn't gotten any of our stuff back. We just had the clothes that we were wearing when our stuff was stolen. Here we are with the Energizer Bunny, getting a huge check. It was hilarious, I thought."
Eventually, the Dallas Police Department recovered the van and trailer, and—aided by the "equipment manifest"—found many of the band's guitars and amps in area pawnshops. The band's piano, guitar pedals and cabinets are still missing, but they've been able to buy new equipment with money from donations.
"Getting all your stuff stolen and not knowing how it's going to work out, and then it does work out—it was amazing," says lead singer/guitarist/pianist Jesse Coppenbarger. "We had a lot of friends help us out. It was one of the most fun tours I've been on."
With their van damaged but still running, Colour Revolt followed with a more stable tour in May, opening for Brand New on the East Coast and Canada. The tour included stops in New York City and Montreal, but Atlantic City may have been the most memorable show.
"We played in a casino to a crowd of 3,500 people," says bassist Patrick Addison, who joined Colour Revolt by way of The Rockwells. "That was the place where they treated us the best. We had free cafeteria food. The casino was right there, so we gambled."
When asked if anyone made any money, Addison replies: "I lost $75. It was OK, though, because Brand New's drummer gave us some chips to go have fun with."
Well, ain't it just like Colour Revolt to lose a few hands and still come out on top?
"The worst thing that could ever happen on tour, we've done it," Kirckpatrick says. "So, we're sort of prepared now for whatever. If our stuff gets stolen again, we can say, 'Hey, we've had that happen before.'"
And, he's quick to add, everything is insured now.
"Go ahead and steal that van again," he says with wry humor that only time and insurance will allow.
The band recently returned to Oxford, grateful and ready for two career-defining gigs—easily surpassing the Atlantic City show in size, and perhaps eclipsing their triumphant Austin shows in importance: Jackson's Jubilee!JAM this Friday and Chicago's Lollapalooza Aug. 3. In between the two festivals, they will record their first full-length album.
Coppenbarger promises the new songs will thrust with more rhythm and haunt with more melody—two qualities that define the near-spiritual experience of a live Colour Revolt show.
"All the EP songs were written before Sean was in the band, except for 'A New Family.' With Sean, and now Patrick playing bass, it shifts with different people's strengths. The new songs are more rhythmic, and are based more on melodies and rhythms than guitar parts," he says.
The band has already played entire sets of new songs on the Brand New tour, and expect to debut some of these tracks in Jackson during their Jubilee!JAM set.
"We're excited to be playing Jubilee!JAM," Kirkpatrick says. "We went to Jubilee!JAM as kids. We saw some pretty cool bands. It seems like they're going in the right direction now. They're getting bigger national acts. I hope people come and show up for the local bands."
With van intact, they're excited about meeting some of the big names, too.
"If Ludacris wants to meet Colour Revolt, sure," Kirkpatrick says. "Come to our van. We probably won't have a dressing room, but come by and hang out with us."
by Natalie A. Collier
Since graduating from Murrah High School in 2000, Owen Beverly has moved a lot. He lived in Charleston, S.C., to attend the College of Charleston, had a semester-long stay in Oxford while he attended Ole Miss, after which he "kind of lived in Atlanta for a few months." But he's back in Jackson now. Kind of.
Beverly is a busy man. When the musician's not doing construction and other side jobs to save money for his next tour, he's on the road. It just so happens that as we talked, he was driving back to Jackson to prepare for two more gigs. One is at Rick's Café' in Starkville on the fourteenth, and the other one—the big one—is Jubilee!JAM this coming weekend.
It seems you're super busy traveling. Where are you now?
I just got done playing two shows in South Carolina. I'm on my way back to Jackson now.
How do you travel?
In my 2002 Pontiac Grand Am. I try to keep my gear to a minimum. And luggage, clothes and toiletry. I try not to tour with any more people than can fit in my car.
How did you come up with that travel philosophy?
I have kind of a rotating roster of bands for when I do full-band shows. It's kind of like musical chairs. I have to produce all the touring, rehearsal and tour budget, so that makes a big difference. Plus, this is the only car that I have. This is a real grass-roots campaign right now. It requires patience and (depends on the) good graces of others, who are willing to work for nothing, pretty much.
I'm constantly meeting musicians. … I try to collaborate with as many people as I can. I don't have a set band necessarily every show. So I call musicians I've worked with before and friends that I've worked with. It's kind of an incestuous situation when it comes to the people I work with—it's a small circle. … I have a nasty reputation for stealing members from other bands.
You went to college on a music scholarship. Did you major in music?
Yes. I have a degree in music composition and theory.
And you finished in three years? Did that have anything to do with trying to get a jump start on the music industry?
I changed my major to composition after I finished my first two years because it was more oriented with writing music, and then I really got into singing and songwriting and that kind of stuff.
At the time, I was in a hurry to get out of college so I could do all the things I'm doing now. But it's not quite as easy of a walk in the park as I thought it might be. Being a college student was a bit easier.
What's the most difficult thing?
I try not to complain too much because I enjoy what I do, but I sleep on people's couches a lot. And I don't sleep as much as I probably should. It's not overwhelmingly difficult. But I can't imagine doing this when I'm 45. I made a conscious decision to do it while I'm younger and have the wherewithal to do it. And the energy. I figured the sooner the better to go ahead and start paying my dues.
Your music is in transition from rock to to folk. Do you ever worry that maybe your fans might think you're abandoning your roots?
It's not that big of a transition. The things I write about are basically the same. And stylistically, it's not that much of a departure.
The music I write now is a little more folksy in terms of instrumentation. To develop a real committed following of people, I think they want to see you grow from one record to another record. People have respect for you as a writer when they can see that growth.
I'm like that with the artists I listen to. I like it when I can pick up a band's new album, and it sounds nothing like the album they put out before.
Personally, I feel like I'm a lot more comfortable, too. You spend a long time figuring out what your niche is. To take the ideas you have, the type of music you like to write and find what you're best suited to write. it's a lifelong process, but as you get closer to it, people start to respond, and you start writing better songs.
Your music is different this time around, but what's different about you?
I think it's safe to say that I'm a bit more of a "grown-ass" man now than I was at 21. I spent the last two years doing construction and small home repairs. When you've struggled a little, you gain a certain—a lot more swagger.
I'm also a lot more focused now than when I first got out of college. It's different when you go off the ready-made track of professional life into something else. Especially if you do something that not a whole lot of people go into, and there's not a lot of structure to it.
What have you learned about yourself over the past two years?
When I drink Scotch whiskey, I get a little aggressive. So I don't drink that before I play—especially when I'm touring. It's important to learn these types of lessons about yourself.
Dark liquor will do it to you every time.
Yeah, it'll really bring out your dark side.
What have you learned about the music industry so far?
If you're really goal-oriented, and you work hard and get the music that you're working on and the hands of people who might respect what you're working on as a project in the making … you can come up with some good stuff. All these songs I'm writing now, I'm writing them to make a full-length record, and I'm trying to get people's input.
I'm always talking to new bands that I might want to open up for. Try to make contacts with many people who are kind of going in the same direction I'm going. Collaboration is really important.
What did your song "Drunk Lover" being on "Entourage" do you for you?
It gave me a big, fat check. Paid my rent for a couple months. And it was cool for my friends and my family, too. The people who've supported me and watched me have successes here and there. It was a morale booster for everybody.
Did it get you any pull with the ladies?
Well … I … anything I say after this should probably be off the record …
How are you feeling about playing for Jubilee!JAM this year?
I'm excited. I grew up going to Jubilee!JAM. I saw Johnny Cash there when I was 14. I also saw Bela Fleck there. I grew up going to the festival in the summer. It was right after school got out. I've always had really fond memories of it.
I'm really excited because this is the first full band show I've ever played in Jackson.
I have a 2000 Mazda 626 LX. It only has 103k miles. Car is in very good working order. It has been maintained well.