PHOTOS: Jordan Ramirez & The Tribe and Doghouse Charlie at River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains, 08/04/18
A week after NEPA Scene premiered three trippy music videos that gave local music fans an early listen to the band, Jordan Ramirez & the Tribe made their headlining debut at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains on Saturday, Aug. 4 with their friends Doghouse Charlie.
Known for his soulful voice and funky guitar in Wilkes-Barre bands Half Dollar and Fake Fight in addition to his solo material and Going Up? Records work, Ramirez formed the group for one concert, but it quickly turned into a brand new project that seemed “as though it was facilitated by a higher power.”
“I had an opening slot at the Jazz Cafe performing with a touring band, Bumpin’ Uglies, a week after a Fake Fight show and a week before a Half Dollar show. Plain and simple, Bumpin’ Uglies just bring it too hard and I didn’t want to sing sad songs with an acoustic guitar that night,” he told NEPA Scene last month.
“At the time, three of the guys had already reached out to just get together and jam over the months, so I did a little searching for our last guy and found him in minutes. The whole thing began to take off in a very serendipitous way… but after the show, we realized there wasn’t much coincidence to us jiving, and it really seemed to be one of those things that had to happen. Thankfully, we got offered another show.”
That was their Aug. 4 gig where they officially debuted as Jordan Ramirez & The Tribe, which features Tyler Dempsey on drums, Ross LeSoine on the saxophone, Michael Wintermute on bass, and Andrew Sauter on guitar. Mixing soul, R&B, jazz, funk, and hip-hop, the band is reminiscent of what Ramirez has produced before while setting itself apart with new ideas, experimentation, and the improvisation that comes with working with four other experienced musicians who easily find themselves on the same groovy page.
“In the past year, I’ve written a bunch of songs for both [Half Dollar and Fake Fight], and I realized that – as a songwriter – you bring the raw materials and the band makes the songs complete, and it’s a beautiful thing. The personality of a band really comes through the final product,” Ramirez explained.
“I’d been producing new solo music at the time – after not doing this for over a year – and was hoping to find some willing players to learn the songs. Nobody was bargaining for anything more than a single show, so the pressure was off. When we got a good response – and, further, I realized that the songs took on a life of their own with these guys due to their jazzy improv – it just made sense to keep going. The songs themselves have a more definitive and universal theme than past songs I’ve written as well. Everything seems to be revolving around the subjects of faith, love, and the simple joy of a stank-face groove.”
Each person who attended this show and dug those good vibes received one of only 100 copies of a seven-song EP limited to just that evening. Those who missed out will just have to catch them live at one of their upcoming shows at DROM in New York City on Aug. 24, BYRAC in Connecticut on Sept. 21, Karl Hall in Wilkes-Barre on Oct. 12, Sarah Street Grill in Stroudsburg on Nov. 3, Tap at Humboldt Beer Depot in Hazle Township on Nov. 21, or their return to the Jazz Cafe on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22.
Watch three music videos for the songs “Baby, Hold onto Me,” “Hip-Hop,” and “Wack Boy” by Jordan Ramirez & the Tribe here.
by Rich Howells
Rich is an award-winning journalist, longtime blogger, photographer, and podcast host. He is the founder and editor of NEPA Scene.