Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tuba, trumpet, drums vocals - Jazz/Punk: The Stumblebums


The Stumblebums playing (double header)


The Stumblebums Playing (explicit language)


Interview with The Stumblebums
Artists: Jesse Wildcards (Tuba), Smidge Malone (Trumpet and vocals), Jonny Carwheels (drums and vocals)
Medium: Tuba, drums, vocals
Location: 2nd avenue station on the F line.

Let’s talk musical innovation and cutting edge. While we’re at it, let’s talk about the NY subway system because the two go hand in hand. As the Stumblebums Brass Band fusion of Jazz and Punk demonstrates, the openness of New York provides space for unique and new music to develop and be refined. Composed of three urbanites, I was fortunate enough to experience distinctive sound of this group.

There are two aspects of this music which really impress upon listeners. First is the use of traditional jazz and big band instruments such as the tuba and trumpet. The Stumblebums use the unmistakable and sonorous power of these instruments in an unconventional way to compliment the second defining feature if their music, the ferocity of their punk inspiration.

At the heart of the ferocity of their music is lead singer Smidge Malone. With a gravely voice you might expect from jazz singers like Louis Armstrong Smidge screams out intense lyrics over the competing tuba and drums, both of which offer no quarter. Furthermore, the visual contrast of his pin-stripe suit and tattooed face makes the contention between the power and timbre of his voice even more pronounced.

Smidge hails from Queens, NY and says he got into singing and trumpet by accident. When he was going to school in Brooklyn, he sat down in the trumpet section and he became a trumpeter. He then took up singing because “I needed compliment, I needed a backup and I didn’t have anyone to back me up so I had to back up myself…until I met these schmucks.” In any event, regardless of having backup or not, Smidge has been playing music since Jr. High School and has decided to make a career out of it. Which is what he likes most about the subways “it gets us work, you know?” Of course, he says, he’d rather play gigs since they pay more.

Jesse Wildcards also adds to the distinct sound of the Stumblebums with oft neglected sounds of the tuba. Jesse is also a native New Yorker, born in Manhattan and now living in the Bronx. Jesse picked up the tuba in Jr. High School and has stuck with it until now. Jesse is the one who helped define the band as a mixture of jazz and punk and added that one of his favorite things about developing this music is making people dance. Jesse also really enjoys playing in public for several reasons. First, of course “playin in the subway makes it possible for me to play music full time.” But on top of that, Jesse adds that the subway is a great place to rehearse because of the interaction with people. In fact, playing in the subway is where he met Smidge 7 years ago. “I prefer working on my music in the subway than working in my own apartment.”

Jonny Carwheels is the band’s drummer and brings his intense drumming and singing skills to the group’s unique dynamic. Jonny, who lays down the essential beat and tempo for the Stumblebums actually met Jesse at a gig where he was playing the accordion. After playing together in the street for a time, Jonny revealed that his main instrument was actually the drums and Jesse tried him out for the Stumblebums. Johnny has been playing drums for 12-13 years and says that the Stumblebumns are the “best music I’ve played for a while…I have a great time.”

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9 comments:

Matt said...

Really cool jazz sound, but the lyrics almost take away from the fun of it.

firstofmany said...

Fantastic! Thank you for making this available to the world at large.

Anonymous said...

hey, there website is http://www.stumblebumbrassband.com fyi!

Николай said...

Ooowww! This is really mad, crazy, fantastic and uniqe music! Watching these videos almost every day.
With best wishes from Russia :D

Nickolay said...

Ow and by the way - Jonny looks like an office worker on the video :D Office worker with the snare)

Jonathan E. Levy said...

yo, we'd love to get to russia, hit us up if you know any leads on how to get us there? Peace, jonny and the stumblebums

kamagra said...

wow I love a the jam sessions from this jazz man, he is one of our great musician so I appreciate your videos about him.

pharmacy reviews said...

why you don't post the fourth video? it would be so nice!

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