New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Postmodern Jukebox

By Gary Wien

originally published: 06/23/2017

Postmodern Jukebox

“A song can be detached from its genre pretty easily,” explains pianist and bandleader Scott Bradlee, the man behind Postmodern Jukebox, a band that gives modern songs a retro twist.  “I think we’re used to hearing songs covered in a certain style because the original artist did it that way.  I decided to take the opposite approach and do it completely different.  You find that a great song can transcend genre.”

Music fans throughout the world apparently agree as Postmodern Jukebox not only performs to packed houses in major venues and music festivals, but has had several albums chart on Billboard’s list of Top Jazz Albums.  After returning from a European tour, Postmodern Jukebox will co-headline a series of dates with Straight No Chaser, including Friday, July 21st at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel and Tuesday, July 25 at BB&T Pavilion in Camden. 

Born and raised just outside Clinton, New Jersey in Hunterdon County, Bradlee grew up with a love of musical genres that weren’t found on the radio.  His parents (who dabbled as musicians themselves; mother played violin and father played trumpet) installed a love of music in him from an early age by playing him records.  They also got him started with piano lessons, although Bradlee says it wasn’t love at first sight.

“For whatever reason, I had taken piano lessons but didn’t quite take to it,” said Bradlee.  “And then I heard this piece called ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ by George Gershwin.  It just inspired me. It was a total lightbulb moment.  I heard it and said, ‘This is the kind of stuff I want to play.’”

As luck would have it, Bradlee’s career came around in the era of YouTube and the two became a perfect combination.  In 2009, when Bradlee released his first video, he was still a struggling jazz musician. The video went viral and gave him the confidence to release more.  His early mashup takes on 80s hits like “Come On Eileen” (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) and “Don’t You Want Me Baby” (Human League) not only proved that the songs could work in dramatically different settings, but showed that there was a huge audience of people interested in the mix.  In 2011, Postmodern Jukebox was born - a band that would flesh out his vision with a plethora of rotating lead singers and cover after cover revealed via music videos.



The article continues after this ad

 


Amazingly, Postmodern Jukebox records and releases a new music video every week.  Bradlee says there has only been a couple of times when they’ve missed a week since starting the practice several years ago.  More than 2.8 million people have subscribed to the band’s YouTube channel and their videos have been seen over 755 million times.  The videos have helped develop the Postmodern Jukebox brand - one that includes a wonderfully cool vibe, musical twists, and retro clothing.  The branding has been so successful that many fans dress up in retro clothes for the concerts.  In fact, the shows become more than a concert; they are a night out on the town, an opportunity to get all dressed up.  But until the band’s first tour in 2014, Bradlee still had his doubts as to how big things were getting for the band.

“I don’t think that it ever hit me until we started touring,” said Bradlee.  “Prior to that I had seen view counts and user comments and things like that.  But it doesn’t feel real until you see actual people at a show, dressed up, singing along, and dancing.  That’s when it felt real. Looking back, Postmodern Jukebox is perfect for YouTube because of the way we create these little performances - single takes that are done Motown style with us all in the same room,” he adds.  “As much as it is a musical thing, it’s also visual with the outfits and all of the different throwback references.  YouTube definitely came around at the perfect time.  It also allowed us to bypass all the record labels and go direct to fans and that has been so crucial.”

The band now has more than 200 songs in its repertoire with shows that vary from city to city. Each tour features about 5 or 6 different singers that rotate in and out.  “That’s kind of how we keep the jazz spontaneity and make every show a little bit different,” he explains.

Even though Bradlee’s favorite genre is New Orleans styled jazz, Postmodern Jukebox explores a much larger musical universe.  Some of their most recent videos include a torch song remake of “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer; a reggae-style version of Smash Mouth’s “All Star”; and a 1940s big band version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know.”

When asked how he comes up with the musical styles for each song, he says he usually has the overall concept in mind, but is always ready to start over and try a different direction.  “If you’re an artist you have to be prepared to throw everything away if you think something’s not quite working.  In general what I like to do is pick apart a song, look at the lyrics, look at what the meaning of the song is, and determine if the song was written long ago what would be the style it would be recorded in.  A song like ‘Seven Nation Army’ for instance has clearly got the old blues New Orleans quality to it and that’s what informs my choices.”

If the idea of hearing popular songs of today approached in different ways sounds appealing to you, you’ll love the co-headlining tour with Straight No Chaser, a band that reimagines hit songs in a cappella style. Their latest release, Six Pack Volume 3, contains interpretations of songs by artists like Bruno Mars, Jon Bellion, Fitz and the Trantrums, Eurythmics, and Beyonce.  

Straight No Chaser and Postmodern Jukebox complement each other’s sound nicely. While both bands have been successful, they aren’t the first artists to cover songs in different genres.  Even artists who have sold tens of millions of albums on their own have released records in the genre. Paul Anka released a wonderful album called Rock Swings in 2005 which found him tackling songs by artists like Nirvana, The Cure, and Soundgarden in a lounge setting.  Even Pat Boone took on hard rock artists like Judas Priest and Metallica in 1997’s In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, but Postmodern Jukebox has sort of mastered the process. 

“Certainly there are a lot of groups who have done retro remixes or things like that,” said Bradlee.  “I think what we do is build a whole universe around it.  That’s been the difference with us.  It’s not a fixed band; it’s a whole universe with 70 different singers that rotate around, tap dancers, and special guests like Puddles the Clown.  You find that a great song can be recorded in lots of different genres and still work and you can probably take something different from it every time. So that’s what I aim to do.  I’m somebody who got to take what they’re passionate about and make a career out of it.”





For more by this author, click here






Mungion To Perform At The Stone Pony
 (ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Since their inception in the Spring of 2015, Mungion (pronounced mung-yin) has quickly made a name for themselves as one of the rising stars of the jam scene. The band will open a pair of shows for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on January 24-25.
MPAC Presents Disney's DCappella Live!
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Disney's highly acclaimed a cappella group, DCappella comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center on Friday, February 15 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from  $39-$89.
Leonia Chamber Musicians Society to Present Benefit Concert for Leonia High School Music Department
(LEONIA, NJ) -- The Leonia Chamber Musicians Society, Inc., a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in Leonia, New Jersey, presents "Our Hearts in Music", a benefit concert, on Sunday, February 10 at 4:00pm at Leonia High School’s Little Theater, located at 100 Christie Heights in Leonia, New Jersey.
The Newton Theatre Presents Ruben Studdard
(NEWTON, NJ) --  Ruben Studdard, the Grammy-nominated R&B, gospel and pop singer was the winner of American Idol’s second season. He has recorded six studio albums, appears frequently on tv, toured extensively and has sold over two million albums worldwide. Studdard officially confirmed that he will be releasing RUBEN SINGS LUTHER to his musical hero Luther Vandross on March 16th and will be launching a 25 city ‘Always and Forever Tour’ starting in Sacramento, California on April 8th.  Locally, he will perform at the Newton Theatre on Friday, March 29 at 8:00pm.
Bill Frisell To Headline the 8th Les Paul Festival Concert at Ramapo College
(MAHWAH, NJ) -- Guitarist Bill Frisell will headline the Les Paul Festival Concert on Saturday night, February 16 in the Sharp Theater at Ramapo College. Often hailed as one of the most distinctive and original improvising guitarists of our time, Frisell’s career as a guitarist and composer has spanned more than 35 years and 250 recordings, including 40 of his own.


The Empire Strikes Back in Concert with the NJSO LIVE! at the State Theatre
Some of our favorite childhood memories growing up at the Jersey Shore involved going to our town’s grand old movie palace, The Community Theater, in Toms River. Built with colonial architecture and featuring large white columns in the front, paned glass windows in the lobby, a circular brick walk from the sidewalk to the box office, and a white picket fence which enclosed a lawn and a flower bed, this local gem presented the latest Hollywood films. For kids like us back in the 1960’s, that meant pictures like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, The Love Bug, and Flipper.
Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.


2019-01-23
Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

2019-01-23
Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

2019-01-24
New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch








 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.