Uptowne Buddha

Tuesday Jan 16 2018

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Beachland Ballroom

$17.00 - $20.00

This event is all ages

When did you stop singing? Did someone teach you to be ashamed of your own voice? Was it a classmate? A parent? A professor?

When do you still sing?

If you’re living in the United States, you are likely to say that you’ll sing in the car but only when you’re alone, or you’ll sing in the shower if no one else is home.

In other words, you will raise your voice only when you are sure no one is listening. - Jonny 5, Flobots

Flobots have been singing their smart and infectious anthems for a better world on stages throughout the United States, and around the globe, for the past decade. Formed in 2005, the alternative hip hop band was, from the beginning, committed to pushing musical boundaries and engaging their audiences in new ways. In recent years, this meant working at the grassroots level to encourage communities to raise their own voices through collective song. It was this work off the stage that inspired Flobots’ highly anticipated fourth album, NOENEMIES (release date May 5, 2017).

NOENEMIES is, without question, Flobots’ most ambitious and sophisticated statement to date - both lyrically and musically. Each of its stand-alone tracks serves as a powerful, poignant new anthem, with surprises both subtle and grand. Taken as a whole, the album tells a story that is enormous in breadth, with a sound that is enveloping and electrically charged, befitting of the finely crafted, carefully chosen words. NOENEMIES compels the listener to delve and to contemplate, to share and revel.

For the recording of NOENEMIES, Flobots’ core trio - emcee’s Brer Rabbit (Stephen Brackett) and Jonny 5 (Jamie Laurie) and drummer Kenny Ortiz - enlisted the help of trusted musical friends to bring their vision into reality. Producer Gabriel Otto worked intimately with the band to craft a distinct sonic landscape, recruiting a string section, horn players, and a gospel quintet to layer recurring motifs over the band’s signature grooves. They teamed up with founding Flobot Mackenzie Gault (viola) and longtime musical collaborator Serafin Sanchez (saxophone, keys) to co-write a number of songs. The band incorporated voices, melodies, and words from throughout their collaborations - both on and off stage - into the songs on NOENEMIES.

NOENEMIES challenges contemporary culture’s shaming of ‘imperfect’ voices, and our tendency to reserve the right to raise one’s voice to those on stage. As Flobots know from personal experience - performers in American culture are elevated above the crowd. They know that maintaining a barrier between audience and performer is the conventional wisdom, the cultural practice, and the business model. But NOENEMIES brings the songs back to the people.

When Denver-based Flobots first catapulted onto the global scene in 2008 with their platinum single ‘Handlebars’, it was the fastest charting debut by a new artist in 10 years. In a span of months, Flobots went from playing at local clubs to selling out tours internationally, performing on late-night television, signing a major label record deal, and receiving constant rotation on alternative radio.

From the beginning, Flobots’ sound defied categorization. Weaving conscious hip-hop lyrics and classical viola solos over live instrumentation, their anthems captured attention from all directions. Their debut album, Fight With Tools, was released during the frenzy of the 2008 election, and
the band’s call to envision “another America” resonated with a generation experiencing a sense of profound political and social awakening. At sold-out shows worldwide, fans showed up mouthing every word, often donning the flag bandannas depicted in the album’s cover art. They used the band’s website and social media to self-organize across state lines into fan clubs that doubled as voter registration teams and service project teams. During 2008’s Democratic National Convention, Flobots teamed up with Rage Against the Machine to support the Iraq Veterans Against the War by transforming a concert into a 5,000 person city-wide march for peace. One Florida radio station used its “all request” time to play ‘Handlebars’ nonstop for two hours straight.

Amidst the whirlwind, Flobots found themselves with a bigger megaphone, a larger platform, a brighter spotlight, and a wider audience. For the band, all of this translated into new ways to help people to activate. The band’s higher profile helped them attract a broad community of supporters for their Denver non-profit Youth On Record, which they had started in 2007 (Today the organization hosts a state-of-the-art Youth Media Studio in a local public housing community and serves as-risk youths with music programs, for-credit classes, and more).

During the release of the band’s second album, Survival Story (2010), Flobot’s organized a nationwide treasure hunt that seconded as an opportunity for fans to learn about and mobilize toward a more sustainable future. In 2011, when the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street stimulated the democratic imagination, Flobots responded with their third album, The Circle in the Square (2012).
Flobot’s ongoing mission to understand how music can affect change has always meant seeking to learn from others. One of these people was their family friend, historian and author Vincent Harding. Since childhood, Stephen and Jamie had been mentored by Dr. Harding who, as an associate and speechwriter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., knew intimately the true power of music to affect change. In conversations with Stephen and Jamie, “Uncle Vincent” would consistently underscore the fact that the Southern Freedom Movement was a singing movement.

“Every time Flobots hosted a community workshop or event, Uncle Vincent would always show up to encourage us,” says Stephen. “His only critique would be, ‘Where are the songs?’ He would always tell us stories about how songs were used to bring people together in tough times when almost nothing else would have worked. We were listening, but not fully understanding.”

In 2011, taking a break from the studio while recording, the band visited the Occupy Denver encampment where thousands had been gathering to protest against the 1%. Flobots were inspired to witness people from all walks of life standing united for a cause larger than themselves. But something was missing. There were no songs.

The lack was palpable. Without songs, time became tedious, flash-points became chaos, and showdowns became terrifying. Even mass gatherings of popular support were often muted, awkward, and anticlimactic.

“We had always seen music as a means to mobilize - to get people get involved in social movements that they care about,” says Jonny 5. “But here we all were AT a protest, ready to raise our voices together, and they had nothing to say. I remember the realization, but it would still be a few years before we would understand the connection between that experience and Dr. Harding’s question.”

On May 19, 2014 Dr. Harding passed away unexpectedly. Amidst their grief, the Flobots heard the call. Dr. Harding wasn’t asking for songs that could motivate concertgoers to march together. He was talking about songs that would allow marchers to sing together.

The time had come to step off the stage and into the streets.
The band began immediately. They took a hiatus from the traditional touring and recording, and instead began convening elders, activists, musicians, and everyday people from all walks of life to reclaim an ancient tool.
In schools and at churches, at concerts and at conferences, during meetings and during marches, an answer emerged. Communities were hungry for experiences of shared power. People were ready to sing.

Flobots called the project NOENEMIES. And without even realizing it, the band had begun work on their new album.
On the title NOENEMIES, Jonny 5 explains, “Every movement starts with a vision held by a very small group. To become real it has to expand to more and more people. But if you see everyone else as enemies, you’re basically deciding they’re never going to join you.”

“For a movement to be successful it has to think beyond enemies;” Brer continues. “You need strategies and tactics that serve as an open invitation. And what’s more inviting than music?”

NOENEMIES is a body of songs that speak to the urgency of the current moment. It’s undeniably Flobots music, but it’s also assuredly music made by artists who have matured and expanded their horizons.

Now, as Flobots release NOENEMIES, they also stand with not only stronger ties to the struggles and stories within the zeitgeist, but with a broader vision of what is possible. Touring means not simply playing shows but also hosting grassroots workshops and on-the-ground community engagement. A new album means not only a “traditional” studio recording but also releasing a DIY songbook and a bootleg disc of street recordings. Funding an album means a organizing kickstarter campaign that raised $30,000 above its goal. An album release means debuting the music with the Denver ballet company Wonderbound.

And in 2017, amidst a nation taking to the streets, success means bringing the songs back to the people.
Uptowne Buddha
Uptowne Buddha
Uptowne Buddha’s story began about six years ago, when emcee Vance Coles and guitar player Sam Terkel were encouraged by a mutual friend to get together to write music. Throughout the years the project grew in content and membership, bringing together a diverse group of musicians from several areas of greater Cleveland. As Terkel relocated to Athens, Ohio for four years, the band remained active and came to know Athens as a second home.

The group has seen a few membership changes but remains true to its fundamental sound and continues to push boundaries. Since their inception, the band has played numerous headlining and support shows around Cleveland in venues such as the Beachland Ballroom & Tavern, the Grog Shop, Mahall’s, the Cleveland Agora, as well as at summer festivals around Ohio and in various venues throughout Athens, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and more. Over the past several months, the band has been working in the studio to track 10 new original songs and is nearing the final stages of production for an expected Spring 2015 release.

This is a diverse group of musicians with an even more diverse set of musical influences that is “bound to move you” and thanks you in advance for all of your support!

~ Much love ~
Uptowne Buddha
Venue Information:
Beachland Ballroom
15711 Waterloo Road
Cleveland, OH, 44110