Sound and the Fury
Uplift Mojoe Party Plan
Hip-hop soul group Mojoe recently underwent a major lineup shuffle, with MCs Charles "Easy Lee" Peters and Treson "T.R.E." Scipio and guitarist Michael "Mesquite" Johnson now joined by drummer De'Rick "Funky Genius" Hendry, bassist Jason "Bishop" Stiggers, keyboardist Robert "Cooley High" Cockfield, and trumpeter Karl "KC" Centeno (of the band Gonsemble).
Peters says the personnel shakeup did not spring from any ill will within the band, explaining the changes as "just a need for us to bring players together that shared the same vision and who were willing to make the big sacrifices needed to succeed."
In addition to his work with Mojoe, Johnson is also moonlighting with Solarized Trio, an instrumental funk group currrently appearing at the Mix on Tuesday nights.
Midway through Ozomatli's two-hour-plus show at Austin's La Zona Rosa on Thursday, April 22, the band set down their instruments, rested their mics and asked those of us in the audience to turn to our neighbors and simply say hello, as if we were attending a Catholic mass, not listening to musica Chicana. As with their show-ending leap-of-faith procession off the stage and into the crowd, this simple gesture embodies Ozo's heart-and-soul essence as much as their music, a cumbia/Caribbean/hip-hop/horns soundtrack to love and revolution. (Is it any wonder that band lore has them playing as the Ché Guevara All Stars years back?)
Two-thirds of the way into their set, Ozo ground to a halt yet again and gave what amounted to a commercial break for their upcoming album right before playing a series of as-yet unreleased cuts off of that disc. This was akin to passing the collection plate, an altogether unnecessary plea to the true believers in attendance. Still, the call to buy-or-burn Street Signs, followed by their new songs - several in English - clearly revealed the band's current state of transition - or evolution, as several others noted post-show. Can they pull it off without alienating their core fan base? Time will tell, and rumor has it Ozo's returning to Texas at the end of summer, with a stop slated for San Antonio.
East L.A.'s seven-piece Inner City Soul opened, with a sound and style matching that of their roadmates, something akin to a funk-band version of Rage Against the Machine, with the lyrical spirit of a Chicano Talib Kweli, as improbable as that combination may sound.