The spirit of D.Y.D (Do YOUR Dance) is alive and well. The initiative, started by co-founders Phil “Phantom” Terry, an original rap and hip hop artist, and Warwick resident Lindsey Lerner by using music as a means to encourage others to find their passion and pursue it, has evolved into a business startup that aims to mutually benefit local musicians and live music venues by working together to not only grow the live music scene, but to also solve problems such as musicians not being fairly compensated for their work or venues not making enough of a profit to warrant hosting live shows.
Not only is D.Y.D alive and well, but it continues to grow and gain traction in the local Rhode Island live music scene. Having already hosted two smaller D.Y.D concert showcases at Olive’s Martini Bar in Providence, not only attracting music acts from as far as Pennsylvania but also giving original artists an opportunity to take the stage in a live setting for the first time, the latest D.Y.D showcase, billed as the Fair Trade Music Series, was held this past Saturday at The Met in Pawtucket and assembled another eclectic group of talented musicians representing a number of different styles, including acoustic rock, folk, rap, hip hop, funk, and indie rock. This time around, the musical acts had more experience behind them, and with The Met being a larger venue, it provided a bigger stage for performances and offered more space for the audience to dance, jump, clap and cheer, as well as an improved sound system.
The first band to take the stage was Beth Killian, featuring Beth on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, her brother John on bass and backup vocals, and her friend Alonso on percussion. The trio’s acoustic folk/indie rock went over well with the audience and was a great way to kick things off. The use of bongo drums added a unique element to the performance, which consisted mainly of original material as well as a mash-up cover medley that included Pitbull’s “Timber,” among others. Although it was a brief opening set, the enthusiastic crowd gave the band a warm welcome.
The acoustic indie rock continued with singer-songwriter Mike Maven, of international touring indie soul act Young Pandas. Maven treated the audience to a number of original solo compositions, including songs that have never been recorded and haven’t been played for years, as well as a couple covers. Maven closed his set with a fun upbeat song that had him blowing on the harmonica as well as plucking the strings and singing.
Sun of Sound, a quintet from Somerset, Mass., was next on the bill and when they blasted into their set, it was as if a powder keg had been lit. Sun of Sound ignited the crowd with their fresh brand of post hip hop, which blends an alternative rock foundation with rapping vocals and a hip hop beat. As the band launched into the first song, it reminded of Rage Against the Machine, with vocalist Solace rapidly spitting rhymes in much the same way Zack de la Rocha did for Rage. Bassist Andrew Davis laid down a solid foundation, while guitarists Steve Furtado (also backup vocals) and Jay Kohler kept things creative with intricate melodies and drummer Jeff Bernier bashed his kit with reckless abandon. Sun of Sound delivered an intense, high-energy show.
Nostalgia, a rap trio from Pittsfield, Mass., was up next. Featuring members D.R.A.M.A.T.I.C., J Soul and DJ QuikMonee, the group informed the audience they would be taking them on a journey back in time. Unlike many contemporary rappers, who are overproduced and rely on technology and studio effects, Nostalgia hearkens back to the ’80s rap scene when all you needed was two turntables and a microphone (or two, in Nostalgia’s case) to deliver your message. With D.R.A.M.A.T.I.C. and J Soul trading raps back and forth and moving all over the stage, engaging the audience to wave their hands in the air and dance, and QuikMonee spinning turntables behind them, Nostalgia could be New England’s answer to Run-D.M.C.
The hip hop didn’t stop with Nostalgia, as Big Scythe and Soldiers of Life kept the beats going with their mix of hip hop, R&B, funk, reggae, rock, Latin, and spoken word. Resembling Sun of Sound more than Nostalgia, the backing band, Soldiers of Life, consisted of guitarist Owen Costello, bassist Mike Emilliani, and drummer Kenny Pinault, with vocalist Jerediah “Big Scythe” Gonzalez front and center, sharing vocal duties with the talented AG (Shara Braxton), who’s ability to not only deliver wicked rhymes but also freestyle rap was awe-inspiring. Big Scythe had something no one else did that night – a keytar. Adding keytar to the already eclectic mix made for a truly unique performance, and one that thoroughly engaged the crowd as Big Scythe and AG stepped off the stage on to the dance floor and mixed it up with the audience.
Closing out the night was singer-songwriter Aubrey Mable and her acoustic guitar. Mable, originally hailing from Colorado, is a Bryant University graduate currently attending graduate school at Providence College. All that was missing from her acoustic rock set was a campfire for the audience to gather around, as they clapped and sang along with Mable, who threw in a mash-up cover medley in addition to her own acoustic rock material. Mable thanked the audience for staying so late and providing a “drum beat” with their enthusiastic clapping.
The night could have ended there, however what happened next was something not only truly special, but whole-heartedly embodied the spirit of D.Y.D. The night ended with a 20-minute jam session involving various members of bands that had performed throughout the night all sharing the stage, as the crowd and musicians became one singing the choruses to famous songs. It started with Mable and Killian covering “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” theme and included Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” and Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” among many others. In between the covers, D.Y.D co-founder Phantom grabbed a microphone and rapped some of his own material before AG and Big Scythe took turns freestyle rapping, which was something truly amazing to behold, especially considering AG is only 16. Before all was said and done, drummer Lindsay Mason jumped on stage behind a vacant drum kit and added a backbeat to the jam session. Whether it was the freestyle rap tradeoffs, the original rhymes, or jumping from one well-known chorus to the next, everything flowed smoothly, all while Mable provided acoustic guitar chords and Mason the solid backbeat.
“That jam session at the end was the point of the whole night!” Lerner said. “That’s the point of coming to a D.Y.D show. None of those artists knew each other before.”
Lerner said typically, artists aren’t treated well in the live music scene.
“We believe in them and believe they should be treated like the rock stars they are. Not everyone should have to be a world famous musician to make a living from their art,” she said. “Success is a relative term, but I believe we can help them achieve whatever level of success they want to obtain.”
Lerner said the culture needs to change for the audience in the live music scene as well.
“Most people come to see their friends and then leave. But when coming to a D.Y.D show, the whole point is to experience the art that these people are providing and I couldn’t have asked for anything better at the end!” she said. “I believe that all of the artists involved have a full understanding of being as enthusiastic about the success of others as they are about their own and that was my goal for the night.”
Sponsors for the D.Y.D Fair Music Trade Series included: Borealis Coffee Roasters, Empire Guitars, Hope Actions, KMB Law, Lerner Construction, Music Town, Dash Bicycles, Omnia Designs, Uprising, Cool Air Creations, Narragansett Beer, Revival Beer, Rigatoni’s Italian Restaurant, Social Enterprise Greenhouse, LeFavorite Bakery, and Flipp Salon.
For more information about D.Y.D or to view more photos from the show, visit doyourdance.org. For additional photos, visit elizabethfriar.com.