Saturday night January 20th at Mexicali Blues in Teaneck New Jersey the Josh Dion Band took the stage and blew me away. Josh Dion is a breath of fresh air in a polluted mainstream music industry. In the land of the Indies he’s a God. Feared by most record producers he represents a throwback to a time when music meant something, when melodies weren’t enough and lyrics had to evoke emotion while pumping the adrenalin in your body. Their show was complete energy from the first note and their creative style only left you waiting for more.
When you think of George Clinton and the PFunk you think of soul, energy, protest, and a high like no other. Josh Dion Band replicates this while being their own personalities and the ulimate blend of unique, raw talent. The band is made up of five members all about as diverse as they come each with their own talents. Together each member is a chain link that if one was broken it would change the entire sound of the band. Fellow songwriter Dan Hindman (Guitar) has co-written songs with Josh, namely Take the Time and Birdwalker. Dan has established himself as a great guitar player and prides himself on sounding like Eric Clapton or Robbie Robertson. Pat Firth (Keyboards) has also lended a hand in songwriting on Movin’ On. He is a phenominal keyboard player and live he adds that much needed funk to this well-oiled machine. Brian Killeen (Bass) rounds out their rhythm section with fast fingerwork and a great smile for his stage prescense. As we begin with a bang we end with a bang and Sarah Versprille is that bang. Her voice is soulful, smooth and commanding when it needs to be. Though she provides mostly backup vocals she is strong enough to hold her own on solos. She’s been compared to the jazz of Billie Holiday and the soul of Erykah Badu with a bit of twang. Having the female vocals adds so much to this band and the music they are putting out, without her I think it just would not be the same.
I saved the best for last, Josh himself is a burst of energy and talent like none other I’ve seen. He’s filled with stage prescense and absolute certainty that he is doing what he’s meant to do. It’s as if this man has music running through his veins. Josh was born at the tale end of the Disco Funk era but managed to embed it into his brain and turn it into a revival of sorts. Josh has been playing drums since he could walk and this was fostered by a loving family who inspired him to experience all different types of music. His brother introduced him to The Grateful Dead and Cream at age 7 as well as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. These influences are rightfully heard in Josh’s music today. At age 17 Josh began his romance with Jazz music inspiring him to combine Disco, Funk and Jazz when he got older. Born and raised in Connecticut Josh moved to New Jersey to attend Jazz school and wanted to initially be a Jazz drummer. Although Josh never did become a Jazz musician he did meet future members of the Josh Dion Band and that in itself makes it all worth it. Josh was everything from a choir boy to a wedding singer but eventually came into his own and wrote his first song. On stage he is an inspiration of what can come of hard work and perseverance.
Many bands claim to be coming onto the scene in a unique anti-mainstream fashion but none do it as well as the Josh Dion Band. Watching them live was exhausting but the most fun I’ve had at a live show in a quite a long time. Take the Time, Let’s Do It Again, Movin’ On, Birdwalker every song was a trip and an exciting trip at that. I was so impressed with the songwriting on each track they performed it was intelligent, emotional, and creative. Each musician was able to show off their talents with solos but the most impressive out of the 5 was Josh’s drum solo that lasted for a good 2-3mins. It was intense, energetic and you could tell Josh was just as into it as the rest of us. He mixed it up with some recorded tracks of beats in a turntable style sound. Every song brought a new experience to everyone there, faithful fans sang along with Josh and most were taking pictures and video with their phones it was an amazing show.
The band has played such popular venues as The Red Lion and The Bitter End in New York both places known for jumpstarting many musical careers. They tour extensively and always seem to be in a venue near you. I would suggest above and beyond everything else seeing them live it’s an experience rarely duplicated by any other. It’s not often that Indies really get the recognition they deserve they usually fight for spots at small venues and spend tons of money out of pocket to create and distribute their own CDs. You can help Josh Dion out by visiting their site www.joshdionband.net and purchasing their CD through www.cdbaby.com. I promise you, you will not be dissapointed and if you are well then you just aren’t listening.
Josh Dion has the ability to be a fresh face and voice in a world that right now has been set back years with the current music scene. With shows like American Idol stomping on the validity of musicians and their music it’s with great pleasure that the music industry should welcome such a unique and talented visionary like Josh Dion and the band. It’s not very often an artist sees something that the world doesn’t, a shift or a change in the tides of music it’s almost that time and it’s possible Josh Dion may be leading the charge.