is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fo Shozo!

A few weeks ago, I was looking for new songs to play on my ukulele and found the chords to Whiter Shade of Pale on the wonderful site called  While attempting to play this classic on my lil uke, I realized there are many artists who have put together their own versions of it, and it caused me to wonder how different local bands would perform the classic.

Then I heard Shozo, a local band that member Charles Bruin describes as being "Electronic Psychedelic Pop" perform a few songs and thought how much I would love to hear them have a go at it.  Now, I don't know if Shozohas yet worked up a version, but their sound reminds me of the dreamy days when The Beatles were  inhaling deeply and slowly exhaling meditative and magical music.  Indeed, Shozo's style is  reminiscent of that feel-good era when all it took to make me happy was some Yardley lip gloss and my white go-go boots.  

Like many of today's groups, Shozo records their music "in our own homemade studio, according to Bruin, who you might remember from his role as Lt. Sam Weinberg in Bluegrass Community & Technical College's moving production of A Few Good Men this past summer.  Bruin's performance was memorable in that he played his character's aggravation with in an understated yet powerfully believable fashion.  Since BCTC consistently gives exposure to some of the best talent the area has to offer, it was no surprise to witness such a great performance by the entire cast, and it's always interesting to discover what new projects BCTC's theatre guru Tim X's "kids" are pouring themselves into next.  For example, since A Few Good Men, Zack Hightower moved to L.A. to pursue a career there, Hayley Williams recently masterfully portrayed the lead role in AGL's Dead Man's Cell Phone, and Kevin Greer, along with Jared Sloan and other "BicTic" performers like Christina Duong impressed in Much Ado About Nothing a few months ago when Laurie Genet Preston made her return, disco-style, to the stage to the adoring and appreciative crowds at Talon Winery.  

Back to Mr. Bruin, though, whose generosity on stage extends beyond theatre.  I was happy to hear from him recently and listen to Shozo's ethereal sound, and now I've received the exciting news that his band will be performing tomorrow night as part of Cosmic Charlie's Wednesday night line up of entertainment.  I talked a little more with him about Shozo and he gave me the scoop on this intriguing band.  
Laura Burton, Charlie Pelayo and Charles Bruin

Like any collaborative effort, mutual respect produces the best performances, and although they've only been together a short while, the members of Shozo work together well due to a closely-knit comraderie.  Bruin tells me, "Our band has only been together actively since September but we had some jam sessions at the beginning of the year.  We have all been friends since high school and we had all played music off and on together for years, but we finally all sat down and started writing songs and found that our personalities compliment each other very well. It also helps that we are essentially best friends."

"The different band members are myself, Justin Miller, Ben Vickers, and Cameron Webster. In the press photo (above), Justin is the guy behind me with the black sunglasses. He plays lead and rhythm guitar as well as singing harmonies. He’s been playing since high school and he is primarily self taught though he was in the School of Music at UK for guitar as well , so he is quite extraordinary. The Guy with funky space glasses is Ben Vickers. He is our bassist primarily, but he also plays rhythm guitar, banjo and a score of other instruments.Thats what he brings to the table is that he is a jack of all trades and frequently tinkers with different instruments. The Yeti is portrayed by Cameron Webster. He is essentially a Human Metronome and is our primary percussionist, and he specializes in piano and synths and is an accomplished ukulele player as well.  When he isn’t doing those things, he is our producer and studio engineer and basically a sonic wizard. I’m the primary vocalist for the band and I also play guitar. We are all songwriters and we kinda have a Lennon/McCartney dynamic except imagine if you split them each up twice and came out with four people."

Bruin has been playing guitar since he was in high school and singing since elementary school.  Although he has no plans for theatre as of right now, he points out that he "would love to do another show some point down the line."

It's no surprise that Charles' hidden talent is as unique as he is.  "If I said I have any secret talent, it’s that I have a mental clock in which I guess what time it is by thinking what would be the most inconvenient time for me that it reasonably could be and I’m usually dead on. That's the only way I keep time and it works half the time.  

As for other members of Shozo, their gifts are as varied as their musical abilities.  "Cameron is a do-it-yourself gourmet chef , Justin’s secret talent is that he is fluent in Japanese, Ben is a linguistics enthusiast and frequently studies different languages quite often, and he also reads scores of books all the time.

Tomorrow night you can hear Bruin and his band Shozo at Cosmic Charlies, but until then, you click here and listen to their Bandcamp:

If you are on campus or near campus tomorrow night, stop in Cosmic Charlie's.  
Maybe I'll see you there!

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