Tag Archives: Funk

Mos Scocious Lets the Good Times Roll, Chicago Style

Mos Scocious brings their unique mix of sounds to a recent show.

Tucked inside a relatively quiet block in Lincoln Park, a small bar explodes with an upbeat, unique blend of rock, soul, jazz, funk, hip-hop, and blues at 10PM sharp on the first Wednesday night of every month, courtesy of Chicago’s own Mos Scocious.

This little venue, the Tonic Room, which is about the size of my two-bedroom apartment, is packed with fans of several different walks of life that go crazy when Mos Scocious takes the stage around 11:30. The party is just getting started. Securing a spot by the cozy fireplace, I witness a musical amalgam – rap in one song, slow blues in the next, then a medley of The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” and “She Loves You.” People dance, take pictures, and raise their glasses to the music. It’s “First Wednesday,” and everyone is having a good time.

From left: Bradley Butterworth, Rob Dicke, and Josh Rosen

Mos Scocious is comprised of three recent Columbia College grads: Josh Rosen [bass, guitar, vocals], Bradley Butterworth [guitar, bass, vocals], and Rob Dicke [drums], all of whom met in Jazz Performance classes in college. The motivation to form the group came from both inside and outside of the classroom. “Just being amongst talented artists and musicians has inspired us more than any class ever could. However, theory and ear training classes were essential to help turn our inspiration into tangible musical ideas,” Rosen tells me following the show. Those ideas came together in the spring of 2006, and Mos Scocious was born.

I asked Rosen where the name comes from. “It’s a Creole phrase that loosely translates to ‘All-Around Good Time.’” Seems fitting for a group that took its favorite parts of  every genre to create its own, totally unique sound – a sound Rosen says was undoubtedly shaped by Mos Scocious’s beloved home city. “Chicago has not only influenced our sound, but it is our sound. We are inspired by everything the city has to offer. Everything we experience in this city comes out in a small way in our songs.” The band termed its sound “freak-funk” because  “[it’s] the sound from the underground. It’s toe-tappin’, groove-based music that isn’t confined to any musical boundaries.”

Mos Scocious’s eclectic sound is due in          large part to the diversity of the members’ geographic and musical backgrounds. The band says, “Our hometowns are all spread throughout the Midwest. Brad is from just outside of Detroit, MI; he brings the Rock/Fusion/Jam vibe. Josh is from Cleveland Heights, OH, and brings the Motown/Blues/Funk vibe. Rob is from Peoria, IL, [and] he brings the Jazz/Soul/Latin vibe. Put us all together, and it’s a nice little salad with a BIG sound!” The variety of influences comes out in each and every song. Mos Scocious has been known to cover Gnarls Barkley and The Sound of Music and then crank out a fan favorite: a rap called “Garmonbozia,” also known as “The Alligator Song.” When they break into the song at Tonic Room, a fan next to me starts dancing so wildly that he bumps into everyone around him and almost spills his drink.

In addition to First Wednesdays, the trio has several Midwestern and East Coast dates under its belt. After playing numerous other Chicago venues  — the Kinetic Playground, Subterranean, Cubby Bear, Reggie’s, Martyr’s, Gallery Cabaret, and Elbo Room, among others — Mos Scocious recently brought their sound to Minnesota (Rochester), Ohio (Cleveland and Columbus), Illinois (Peoria and DeKalb), Michigan (Flint, Royal Oak, and Rochester), and New York (Binghamton and New York City). They also recorded an LP called Ibble Dabble in 2008.

When the opportunity arose to book a recurring hometown gig, the band accepted. “We were asked by Michael Berg and Jess Blanc of 3D-MAS Productions to play on their Wednesday Night Affair at the Tonic Room about 2 years ago.  There is no place we would rather be on a Wednesday.  It’s a great place to hear live music,” Rosen says.  “For us, it just became a very comfortable place to play.  We were approached by Berg in December to start up a once-a-month residency at Tonic Room in February. We couldn’t have been more excited.”

What else does the future hold for Mos Scocious? Although many students are forced to either drop out of school or give up music to pursue full-time careers after graduation, Mos Scocious is becoming a career for Rosen, Butterworth, and Dicke. Rosen says they’re in it for the long haul. “Our future plans are to make Mos Scocious our full-time job. This includes touring, writing, recording, marketing, living, loving, etc. It will take a lot of sacrifices, but we are up for the challenge and are ready to take over the world!” It sounds to me like they’re going to have a really great time along the way.

Kayla Zimmerman

Check out Mos Scocious on Myspace, Facebook, and  Sonicbids. And catch the band live at Tonic Room on April 7 and May 5 (2447 N. Halsted, 10:00 PM, $5) as well as at Gallery Cabaret on April 9 (2020 N. Oakley, 8:00 PM, Free).


A Lesson in Music from The Coop

Danny Biggins (far left) Jared Shaw (second to left) Jacob Barinholtz (second to right) (Cason Trager (far right)

Music is a uniting force that inspires those with open minds to share in the creative vision of an artist– be it a call to action, an expression of joy, or simply a reason to keep moving forward. At least that is how Chicago band The Coop defines music. The members met in high school and have continued the band all the way through college. Band members Cason Trager (bass, synthesizer, laptop), Jacob Barinholtz (drums), Danny Biggins (guitar, synthesizer, vocals) and Jared Shaw (saxophone, percussion) have found their school experiences helpful in becoming successful in music in the Chicagoland area.

The Coop began in 2004, when a group of musically talented friends combined forces in a mysterious old shack (hence the band name). The band focuses on both improvisation and composition, combining elements of current electronic music styles with classic sounds of rock, jazz, funk, and reggae. The variety of styles keeps the group’s sound in a state of constant change. “We really try not to let preconceived genres limit the music we create. Each member of the band has their own influences, and these differences are what make things really interesting for all of us,” explains Barinholtz. Still not convinced? For those seeking a unique atmosphere, The Coop has been known to provide the occasional accompaniment of live painters and fire spinners, among other visual performers.

Music lovers may have seen this unique rock/electronics/fusion jam band during one of their performances at several high-profile summer events. Performing at Summer Camp Music Festival and the Taste of Chicago as well as a New Years Eve 2009 show to a crowd of nearly five hundred people in Chicago has helped these young musicians to be recognized as up-and-coming fan favorites. Kelly Currier, a fan and student at University of Illinois at Chicago said, “Their shows are always a fun time with great music and good vibes. Everyone has a great time dancing and enjoying good tunes.”

With three of four band members in college, The Coop has crossed paths with a wide variety of people that have helped them evolve their music. Whether they’re concert promoters, other bands, or just music enthusiasts, everyone has had an impact. “I met many of these people because I was at U of I (University of Illinois in Champaign). We’ve kept in touch with many of these people too which is good because we can both help each other out along the way,” Barinholtz says.

Barinholtz during a summer show

Recent DePaul University graduate Jessica Figurski has known and played music with Barinholtz since middle school. “I used to love watching him play during school. He was always so dedicated and passionate. I remember thinking every time I saw him play, ‘I just know he is going to go far with his talent.” Barinholtz did not major in music at the University of Illinois in Champaign, but was involved with both concert bands and the steel band through the University. In doing so, Barinholtz was able to play in settings that helped him to understand and learn different music styles. Barinholtz said, “It certainly was difficult at times performing in two different ensembles in addition to The Coop, while still attending regular classes. I often had to put in several hours of practice a week to ensure that I could learn all of my parts well.”

Two other members of The Coop are currently juggling school along with their music careers. Shaw, currently a jazz studies major finishing up his senior year at U of I, is considered to be the music theory guru of the group. His typical day involves attending classes that cover topics such performance, music history, and composition. Biggins has also taken several classes related to music at Elgin Community College to further his education and ability. He balances schoolwork with the band and a job on a daily basis.

What’s next for The Coop? Tonight (March 12th, 2010) the guys will be competing in Summer Camp’s “On The Road Tour” in Urbana, Illinois at The Canopy Club. The show is a battle-of-the-bands style contest in which each member of the audience votes for their favorite band. The winner will be invited to play a set at Summer Camp in Chillicothe, IL, this May for the festival’s 10th anniversary.  With their combination of experience and talent, The Coop surely won’t disappoint on their bright journey to Summer Camp.

Download The Coop’s latest album for free at http://www.thecoopmusic.net

–Laura Green