AYRON JONES AND THE WAY CONCERT REVIEW. ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL, NEW YORK CITY, APR 19, 2016 (TUE)

As I wrote in the previous chapter, I found a Seattle rock band, Ayron Jones and The Way (AJTW) when I went there for my one week vacation in November 2015. While I was taking a walk on the streets in the beautiful Ballard neighborhood, I saw a promotion video for their upcoming shows at a live house called Tractor Tavern on its outside TV monitor (click here see more story on “Ayron Jones and The Way” section). Although the TV didn’t have sound, I was confident that their music would be nice by their charismatic aura on stage. I luckily found same YouTube video featuring their outdoor concert and watched it on the street. I was right. Their music and guitar were thrilling with good edges and vibes. That was an exciting moment I found a very good music. I even bought their album, “Dream”, by iTune within the same day. The “Dream” album was addictive. No other band had their style of music, and each song was high quality. Their music was one of the biggest gains in Seattle among my wonderful vacation memories (Seattle was a great city! See more about the trips, click here). The bad thing, I had to return to New York City before their show at the Tractor Tavern. Because they weren’t active in East Coast, I thought the chance I could see their show would be the next time I traveled to Seattle, that wouldn’t be soon. Seattle was far away and airfare was usually expensive from New York City.

The good news came up much earlier than I imagined. Last March, Ayron Jones and The Way announced on their Facebook page about their first show in New York City on April 19. I was so glad I would be able to see their show in New York City pretty quickly. I thought I would have to wait for years. I also thanked the coincidence I knew about the fantastic band before their show in New York City. If I didn’t take Thai lunch in Ballard neighborhood and walk around the area after the meal, I would probably miss their concert in NYC because I wouldn’t know them.  I could take lunch at University District or somewhere else. All were interesting coincident.
I had one concern. How many people would come up to their show in NYC? Although Ayron Jones and The Way was active in Pacific Northwest and their music and techniques were wonderful, the fact was they were pretty much unknown in East Coast. Plus April 19 was Tuesday and presidential primary election date in New York State. I wanted to take my friend but couldn’t because of the situations. I hoped the number of audiences wouldn’t be a single digit.

April 19 came. I arrived at Rockwood Music Hall in Lower East Side, at 7:00 p.m., 30 minutes before the showtime. I was a little anxious when I saw the small stage. I knew there would be a private event before Ayron Jones and The Way. Crews were still clearing the massive pieces of equipment, and there was no sign of setting up by AJTW’s side. I even thought the private event might have AJTW already and no show at 7:30 p.m. or I took a mistake of time. I checked Rockwood’s website on my iPhone but that still had 7:30 p.m. for Ayron Jones and The Way. I hope they would be able to start their performance without delay.
Then the bassist showed up in the small hall first then Ayron Jones, the vocal and guitar. Oh, wow, my favorite band members were walking just in front of me! Both looked at the unorganized stage. Ayron Jones asked something to the previous band’s crews. I could hear that one of them told Ayron “you know we still have time until 7:45 p.m.”. That meant they still had a time. I approached Ayron who was staring at the stage with his guitar and asked autograph and photography. He cheerfully accepted, gave me his autograph and took a photo with me! I was so excited before the show.

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The pre-show mess on the stage by a previous band before Ayron Jones and The Way. Ayron Jones is left, and Bob Lovelace, bass, on the right.

7:40 p.m. The stage was almost clear but the crews were still clearing some equipment on the floor in front of the stage. Ayron Jones and The Way didn’t have much time to waste for their important debut in New York City. They were the first act of the night until 8:30 p.m. and many more bands would follow on the stage. 3 members performed a brief sound check and started their performance on time at 7:45 p.m. while the floor was still being cleared up.

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Ayron Jones

The first song was “Boys From the Puget Sound”, a single released last year. Their hometown, Seattle, faces to Puget Sound, so the song was a nice introduction of themselves to New Yorkers. That is one of their songs closest to grunge rock; anger is suppressed into the dark slow melody at the beginning then exploded. Anger against society and the dark mood of the song are the similar points with grunge. The clear difference is the technique, other than “Boys From the Puget Sound” isn’t exactly depressive. Their technique is much better than the grunge bands in 90’s, and Ayron Jones and The Way just showed that from the beginning of their stage also. The power from three members was massive from the start. No two guitarists, no keyboard. A trio is the most simple form of a band, but their sound was so massive and solid from the basic amps. There was no empty space between the sound of each instrumental. The sound was edgier than Soundgarden. And the massive sound was constructed by their technique and chemistry. I knew Ayron Jones had wonderful techniques by their album and videos. Other members were relatively new (Bob Lovelace, bass, told me he had been in the band for about a year), and they showed their exciting and organized play from the start. Ayron Jones was the main person, leader, and songwriter of the band, but the other two members proved that they weren’t his back band members but real members and the band chemistry was real. The professional musicians with great techniques do not mean they create chemistry, harmony, and balance with other band members. I was glad to see that wasn’t their case. They played “Boys From the Puget Sound” more exciting than the record on the stage.

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Ayron Jones and The Way

The second and third songs were probably AJTW’s new songs, not included on their “Dream” album. According to the song list Bob gave to me (thanks!), they were “Rockstar” and “Take Me Away”. Both songs had very good quality and made me look forward to their new album a lot.
Their live performance was very stable overall and made their songs more attractive, as a good live performance supposed to be. Not only Ayron’s guitar play was more attractive than records, his vocal was emotional on the stage. His husky vocal was raw like his guitar play and matched with their music style. Bob was so technical to produce a variety of heavy lines to their music by his 5 string bass. Both Ayron and Bob aggressively moved around the stage during solos and gave visual impact as well. And the drum play by Ehssan Karimi was hard and he was kicking the beats on the simple drum set! When I first saw their “Take Your Time” video, his play was light so I was concerned. I certainly witnessed my concern was unnecessary. He added excitement to their music by each hit on drums.

Ayron’s guitar play started to heat up  and took off after the 4th song, Voodoo Chile, one of the most famous songs by Jimi Hendrix, their hometown legend. I think the attractive elements of his guitar play were raw and emotional, not mechanical, while keeping amazing techniques. Many guitarists nowadays don’t have these characteristics. First, Ayron was playing bluesy and emotionally like an authentic version of “Voodoo Chile”. Probably their cover would be standard if they continued that way. But he added massive modern picking during his guitar solo and made our eyes open wide and pay  attention to his guitar and fingers. With solid rhythm play behind, he called tornado on the stage. That was a literary breathtaking cover of Jimi Hendrix.

Before the guitar solo takes off on “Voodoo Chile”…

And here comes guitar tornado!

Ayron’s guitar storm still continued on the fifth song, “Baptized in Muddy Waters” from “Dream” album. Ehssan threw one of his drumsticks to Ayron and he played like a violin. I’d seen that on their YouTube video before. In front of my eyes, his own method was pretty brilliant. Check this out.

“Baptized in Muddy Waters” was potential their classic tune consisted with foggy and dark verse and hot, edgy, and rolling (and muddy) chorus. Their tight play made the song roll higher. Headbanging was so necessary with that song.

Then “Take Your Time”. This rock song is probably my most favorite unreleased song of any kind since I watched on YouTube (click here to watch), and I certainly hope this song will be included on their new album. This mid-tempo song might be their most catchy song at this point, but catchy is never a bad thing. This song has a lot of my favorite parts; good retrospective melody, raw cutting guitar riffs, emotional vocal, and lyric. I really wanted Ayron Jones and The Way to play that song in their limited showtime. The band didn’t let me down. They played better format than the YouTube video. Melody was more beautiful on the stage, and the softness of the song had a good chemistry with the roughness of the sound. During the last chorus, AJTW stopped their instrumentals and let the audiences sang with them. Thanks to the simple lyric, the audiences enjoyed the chorus with them and made it the highlight of the show before the final hard rock song, “Feeding’ from the Devil’s Hands” from “Dream” album. During the last song, Ayron added another entertainment, jumping off to the floor from the stage and played his brilliant guitar play in front of the audiences.

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Rock N’ Roll!

Obviously, the majority of audiences seemed impressed about their debut performance in New York City. The number of audiences was about 25 people when their show started. Not single digit as being afraid, but not many. When the show finished, the number of people was much more (the hall was small, probably 80 people would be very packed). Some of the additions were for the next show, and Ayron Jones and The Way succeeded to appeal to those newcomers. The hopeful new fans seemed like they enjoyed AJTW’s songs, especially the last two songs. AJTW has good song qualities. If their songs and sense weren’t good, their good technique would have nothing to appeal. Technique follows music quality. And audiences’ eyes were attached with Ayron’s guitar play and others. I wish the band had more advertising opportunities, such as cards on stage or merchandise sales (maybe prohibited by the venue?) because many of them didn’t know their name yet. But I think their concert in New York City was a success by their satisfying 45 minutes show. And for me, it was a dream come true moment. And my new dream is to see their full show, hopefully here in New York City.

As I wrote in another chapter here, I really think Ayron Jones and The Way should proceed to nationwide, or worldwide success, not only limiting in the regional Pacific Northwest. They have better talent than many of chart success artists. Songs are very exciting and touch audiences’ heart. Instrumental plays are technical and thrilling. Most of all, Ayron Jones and The Way has their own originality and music identity. There aren’t many musicians have quality and technique altogether. The music world is tough, and wonderful talent doesn’t mean guaranteed success. I hope many music fans will understand the wonderful quality of their music one day, and their next album is a big step forward to success.

At last, the venue, Rockwood Music Hall was very nice place in Lower East Side. That consists of 3 small but cozy and clean halls and people can enjoy a variety of music under the same roof. The band after Ayron Jones and The Way was a female/male country/folk duo from Nashville (sorry, I forgot their name), and their music was nice, too. Also, many of the weekday shows are free other than the tip to artists and drinks at the bars. Sound quality is pretty good. Bars are woody and comfortable. Really nice place to enjoy the good music.

Rockwood Music Hall, http://www.rockwoodmusichall.com
ADDRESS: 196 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002

MAP: https://goo.gl/maps/4VyQbCBRAR52
TEL: 212-477-4155

CHECK OUT AYRON JONES AND THE WAY
http://www.ajandtheway.com/

THEIR EXCITING ALBUM, “DREAM” (iTunes/Apple Music/Amazon)

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