I could feel the energy as I entered the Rumba Café. I began the evening as usual, ordering a drink at the bar and perusing the bar for information available from the performers of the evening. As I was looking over the merchandise table, Joey Hebdo came up to me asking if I needed any information or help with the items at the table. Hebdo is very forthcoming and wants to help in any way possible. We had met previously but it had been at least a year, so I introduced myself. I had previously contacted him regarding the review, thus he was well aware of who I was and what my goals were for the evening. He stated that he had already checked over the Ape Wind website and liked what we were doing. I then knew that this man completely carries the characteristics necessary to be successful in an entertainment profession, and he wasn’t done convincing me of this just yet.
Hebdo is completely comfortable up on the stage. If he feels nervous or uncomfortable, he shouldn’t. He looks like he could be a natural actor, as he looks like he’s meant to be up there. The crowd immediately quieted upon his first song. He commands the crowd with his quiet yet powerful demeanor and demands attention with his delicate and grooved out tones. Hebdo is also quite entertaining with his banter, as he talks to the crowd. At one point he stated, “I almost wanna pretend this isn’t me up here, it’s someone else. It’s fun, ya know? Well, here we go then!” It was as if there were two people in his head talking to each other and getting ready to play the song.
Hebdo has some excellent whistling abilities, which definitely added some cool parts to his fun melodic sounding vocal tones. I was seriously impressed with the accuracy he kept while quickly switching from a whistling to a vocal sections of certain songs. Along with his whistling abilities comes a knack for switching from very high to low tones and back without missing a beat. Many of his vocal tones would start very light and high and end up in a very low and growling manner, which was very entertaining and impressive. It sounded very natural and proved to be musically valuable within many of the songs throughout the evening. If I had to pick artists of a similar vocal manner, the first names that come to mind are Shannon Hoon, Ben Harper and Jamiroquai; all of which I am very attracted to musically.
The song constructions seemed so simple, yet sounded so sophisticated, while hearing it performed. The selections seemed to demand a depth of meaning portrayed through the complexities within the lines Hebdo sang; but only if a listener takes the time to dissect what he is saying. A personal example for me would be a verse where Hebdo belts out, “Dust and smoke fill our laugh, astrology’s now a jar of ash, I think its time we got this man a box. It never really mattered if we shared the same DNA, I really like the way that you see things.” It’s not only the picture Hebdo paints with his words, but once again the way he portrays it: in a manner that, at points, would obviously not need the instruments backing. There were definitive points when the instrumentation would die down and the club was filled with his voice alone, and it was inspiring.
As a musician myself, and an avid fan of seeing local live music, I enjoy knowing how the club’s employees take to the performers and their needs for the evening. My table happened to be next to the sound booth and at one point I heard the sound guy exclaim, “This is a pain in the ass,” as more people came up including the other artist for the evening to collaborate with Hebdo. Joey had invited three more people on the stage with him. One picked up an upright bass, one just had a shaker and was using some kind of vocal pattern for percussion, and one sat down at the drums. I think it may have been at this point where the sound guy became a bit flustered and maybe he just wasn’t aware of this setup during the first set. For all we know Hebdo wasn’t aware either but it worked out quite well.
This setup, along with the full Hebdo band setup during the third set of the night, was very patient with their music regarding crowd chatter as they would build their songs. No doubt they were well aware that by songs end they would have most of the crowds’ attention. At times Hebdo seemed to just carry on a conversation with the audience just as he had previously in the evening while walking around before the performance. He seemed to treat everyone there as if they were genuine friends that go way back, and after this evening most of them probably felt like this, even if it wasn’t completely true. The entire night was a feel good music extravaganza. If you are into a fun night listening to very talented and friendly musicians, this is your show.
If you would like to check out Joey Hebdo, buy some merchandise, or find where you can catch him next check out: http://www.facebook.com/joeyhebdomusic or http://www.myspace.com/joeyhebdo and also http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hebdojoseph.