Sunday 20 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Bear and grin it

Bear and grin it

Raise your (jazz) hands if you agree that 2 + 2 = 6. Being unconventional is what Norman’s JonBear Fourtet is all about.

Joshua Boydston March 23rd, 2011

The JonBear Fourtet
7 p.m. Thursday
Coach's Brewhouse, 110 W. Main, Norman, 321-2739

Things have always been evolving for Norman six-piece The JonBear Fourtet, whose name was fossilized before two more members hopped aboard. They’ve given up on keeping up with the additions.

“Got to land on something and stick with it at some point,” said drummer Nathan Harwell.

Name-change refusal aside, Darwin would be proud; the band’s members constantly have adapted to suit each other’s strengths, and the act is an entirely new beast than when it began.

Guitarist Kyle Reid and vocalist Jon Barnoskie began playing as the acoustic duo Kyle and the Bear while attending school at the University of Oklahoma. Tapping Harwell as a drummer, they slowly added more pieces in bassist David Hickey, trumpeter Chris Schroeder and saxophonist Trevor Galvin, which have shifted dynamics drastically.

“Back then, we tried to fit what was already written,” Harwell said. “Now, all of us put in our influences and opinions. The songs sound like six pieces playing a song written by six people, as opposed to six pieces playing a song meant for two.”

With fewer inhibitions came an increased openness to opinions and new styles. Each member was nurtured with a distinct genre; the jazz influence rose to the top immediately, but others grew more prominent as time passed.

“We all had styles we gravitated toward as we learned our instruments. I’m not sure what genre you’d say, but you’ll definitely hear the blend of all of our influences,” Harwell said. “When I started playing, I tried to fit in with that jazzy vibe. I’ve kind of sucked it into another realm.”

Said Reid, “It used to be the jazzy songs with catchy melodies, all real light. Since then, there’s a new intensity and heaviness to the music. That’s a strong point. Even though it’s different styles, they work together and set us apart.”

The biggest tie between all the different shades is the band’s propensity for musical eras of yesterday.

“I’ve always been listening to old jazz records and blues albums,” Barnoskie said. “Older music just had this soul to it. You play that as an inspiration.”

Added Reid, “We are old-fashioned in the instrumentation. At the same time, there are new elements that, to a certain degree, accentuate the old stuff. You don’t know how beat-up your old tennis shoes are until you see someone’s new pair.”

Pairing the new with the old has worked well for the six-piece Fourtet, endearing itself to fans young and old, grabbing spots at Dfest and Norman Music Festival (not to mention Tuesday’s show at Coach’s Brewhouse). Possible dates await at Jazz in June and the Summer Breeze Concert Series in Norman. People keep showing up to dance, groove, admire and ponder what exactly it is they are listening to.

“I don’t think anyone has successfully pegged us,” Harwell said. “Not even us.”

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