Though the image of the iconic jukebox, with its pushbuttons and 45 rpm vinyl singles stacked neatly in a row, is firmly ingrained in the American psyche, an actual working jukebox is almost impossible to find. Then came the CD Jukeboxes (all vanished), followed by hi-tech digital jukeboxes, which, like its predecessors is also becoming a dinosaur as honky tonks opt for satellite music services.
So what’s a pop music fan whose tastes range from current dance hits, to alternative rock, classic country, and everything in between to do? Consider catching a show from local trio Jukebox Elly, a band unafraid to perform their own versions of almost anything.
In an evolution of major proportions, the only original Elly is Sean Johansen (guitar/keys/vocals), who co-founded the band in 2011 with a few local musicians, one who drove a Honda Element, thus the “Elly” of its name. Justin Jordan (guitar/vocals) joined the band in 2013, and Austin Perry (drums) joined late last year, replacing Ty Potter.
The lean, but creative and dynamic trio fills the room with a full sound through some hi-tech wizardry, including Jordan’s splitter, which takes his live bass guitar signal, sends one line to a bass amp, and another line through a octave pedal, raising its pitch, mimicking a rhythm and lead guitar. Drummer Perry plays an acoustic drum kit, and also a Roland OCTAPAD, which triggers hand-claps, and other effects commonly heard in highly produced recordings, but rarely heard in a live settings.
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The band performs about three times per week, including May 28 at Creek Ratz and June 3 at Bubba’s Love Shack, but both Jordan and Johansen also perform acoustic duos and solos and maintain “day gigs.”
“Our set list goes back to the 60s, but we have a lot of current material, and party-friendly, dance stuff, too,” said Jordan. Johansen says the band has moved away from its original nearly all alternative set list to include some “throwback” country music. “We steer clear of most new country,” he said. “So often their voices are grating, and the content of the songs is also usually pretty bad. But we like country music, we just stick with the classics up through and into the 90s.”
Otherwise to stay true to the Jukebox metaphor, the band plays a diverse set list including hits from: Matchbox 20, Meghan Trainor, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam, Guns ‘N Roses, Weezer, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Van Morrison, Backstreet Boys, Foo Fighters, Vertical Horizon and many more. See for yourself at www.jukeboxelly.com.
“We’re just trying to entertain people,” said Johansen. Jordan concurs chastising bands that insist on plying music they like, as opposed to be willing to please the crowd. “Some bands say ‘We only play music we like.’ We’d rather play songs that the crowd likes.”
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