. . . so was the call and response Saturday night from Seattle soul rocksters Down North, and that chant could very well become their reality. Like in Peter Pan, Peter tells the children, “Think good thoughts, if you believe, you can fly.” Grammys . . .LA . . . a record deal! Down North has never been short on belief, even when it seemed no one else shared it. And, unlike fairies who die when no one believes, Down North has thrived, determined to prove they exist and are real.
With little to no attention given them in the local press over the last few years, many a band would’ve become discouraged, frustrated, and thrown in the towel, but Down North has been upfront about their frustrations on social media. They knew they had the goods and took the act to America, away from the sometimes shortsighted music scene they call home. Hitting the road on tour, away from friends and family support, can either make or break a band as they discover the holes and weaknesses in their act. But it also serves to strengthen, rebuild, tighten, and hone their sets. Being on an extended road trip allows the liberty to experiment and to be judged strictly on performance, not reputation or former expectation. That time has been well-spent.
When Down North played at 2011’s Critical Sun Band Crawl, frontman Anthony ReneGade Briscoe’s energy and commitment to showmanship and the high level of musicianship in the band was impressive. Anthony has been inspired by, and frequently pays tribute to, legends Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Jimi Hendrix.
Today’s Down North is still full of heavy beats, but they’ve now fused their soul roots with psyche rock. It’s a little heavier and fuzzier. Besides Briscoe on vocals, the band is comprised of some heavy hitter musicians, Brandon Storms/Bass, Nicholas Quiller/Guitar, and Superman Conrad Real/Drums. From the first note, they proved to Seattle they deserved to be headlining Neumos. The band was extremely tight, the sound was big, the energy was high, and the crowd was with them. They were the kind of tight that can only come from day-in and day-out of back-to-back shows. They also spotlighted each member with some nice solo work.
If one must pay their dues to get noticed, Down North has “over paid.” DN is a good representation of the growing Seattle soul scene, and they shone some luv on it Saturday night by bringing in soul/funk support acts: The Fabulous Party Boys brought the funk with horns and electric tuba, fronted by the versatile Tazlyn Gue, also on hand were the cool and bluesy stylings of Graig Markel and the 88th St Band, and soul powerhouse, Megan Wilde who started the night off with a boom! There’s a growing soul scene at Nectar’s Mo’Jam Monday’s. At the Marmalade show on Thursdays at The High Dive there was a packed and grooving dance floor from 10 p.m. to midnight. These shows tend to have artists who collaborate, and Marmalade is a 12-piece collective of rotating musicians with diverse stylings in soul, funk, hip/hop, jazz, and electronica, sure to get the crowd on the dance floor.
Down North has a single out called, “Heartbreaker,” featuring Jabrille (Jimmy James Williams) and plan to do short, EP releases over the next year, as well as continuing to tour. Keep a watch at: www.downnorth.net for the latest news and remember, “Clap if you believe.”