Local band Newport Jam kicks off the summer concert season

Alexia Gleysteen, Clarion staff
May 8, 2012

With summer just around the corner, many avid music lovers have already started to plan their summer concert line up. Here’s one more to add to your list: local jam band Newport Jam kicks off the month of June with a show at The Frequency on June 1. A $5 ticket  gets you access to some of the Madison area’s best local musicians: J.T. Roach, Charlie Kim and Keefe Klug will be performing as well.

Newport Jam is a rock-funk-reggae band made up of members Levi Kellogg, Daniel Herrera, Justen Worden and Griffin Paul. The band has been through many transitions and members, originally starting out in the Wisconsin Dells area as a high school garage band titled “Sorry About Your Couch.”

Newport Jam officially formed in 2008 and is a compilation of drums, bass, keyboard, guitar and vocals. They currently have one CD out titled “So Far Away” with a second CD is in the works. “So Far Away” encompasses a more acoustic sound, while we can anticipate a much funkier sound on their CD coming out this year.

Despite all of these transitions, the group seems to be comfortable adapting to change and have consistently produced good music and great shows. While some of the members are friends from childhood, lead guitarist Griffin Paul was found through a Craigslist ad and has been jamming with the guys for the past two years.

The band draws  influence from bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, Sublime and The Beatles. Newport Jam has 20 original tracks, but is also known to play covers of crowd favorites from the bands that influence them. Besides musical inspiration, the band draws inspiration from the crowd.

“I can get into a 5-6 hour session while we’re practicing and really feel like we’re working towards something that you can perform, and that’s what it’s all about, the performance,” said Kellogg, reflecting on what drives them to create great music.

While the band enjoys their practices and any opportunity to play music, Paul comments on his favorite part of performing.

“When I listen to music and you get to a really cool part and it gives you that tingly feeling down the back of your spine, well when you’re up there and you can make the sound that’s going to make everyone do that, I think that’s the best part,” he said.

During their performances, the band’s main objective is to make people dance. They have a set of LED lights that they bring with them to their shows, and are willing to adjust their songs and music to fit the crowd.

“Keep the song going. All right, if you’re into a really good song and everyone is having a really good time and getting down, make sure you stretch your song out, throw in a couple solos, and really keep that energy going,” Kellogg said about the importance of crowd energy and enjoyment.

If you want to experience the energy for yourself, mark your calendar for June 1. Doors open at 9 p.m. at The Frequency, which is located at 121 West Main Street, right off the Capitol Square. The show is 18 and over, and it’s only $5 a ticket.

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