2RED and the 2RED Band
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2RED and the 2RED Band

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A Deeper Shade of 2RED

Local group steps up its sound and size while looking for larger gigs

By Bill Livick, Special to the Gazette

Don and Kat Janes formed a musical partnership in 1999, first stripping down pop music and performing as an acoustic duo.
Last year, though, the pair named itself 2RED and began performing its own music- largely acoustic, singer-songwriter sound.
That stripped-down music can be heard a on the Milton couple’s first CD, “What You Get,” which was released earlier this year. But a demo recording of 2RED’s most recent sound reveals a more muscular approach, characterized by some heavy “shredding” on electric lead guitar by Don, as well as more powerful vocal deliveries from both singers, backed by bass and drums.
The change in sound reflects the band’s evolution from a duo to a four-piece, Don said. Or from another perspective, you could say Don is returning to more familiar musical turf. He led the popular Rock County cover band Brother Jones from 1994-98 and had spent years before that touring regionally and nationally in a series of bar bands.
That all changed when he and Kat decided to marry in ’99.
“I basically quit the bar-band scene to try to focus more on originals,” Janes said. “We started doing this duo as a way to sort of fund writing and playing- you know, keep working by not have to do the bar thing. Now we’re back to playing bars, but it’s with a different focus. We’re not like a party band doing the weekend warrior thing- we’re focused on songwriting and playing originals.”
Kat said the couple’s different backgrounds and approaches to songwriting have worked to their advantage when they get down to creating new songs.
“Don has always approached music from a purely emotive place,” she explained. “When he performs, he really connects emotionally with the music, and his songwriting is the same way. He is just sort of struck with creativity one morning, stays home from work, sits down and lets his emotions and the creative spark sort of guide him
“Me, on the other hand, I am a little more cerebral about it. I began really tapping into my emotions when I got involved in the songwriting process, putting my feelings and words into the music as well. Also, as we started performing acoustic shows, that helped me connect with the music more because there was less to hide behind.”
Kat is a Janesville native who graduated from Parker High School in 1994, while Don was raised in the South, mostly in Atlanta and Virginia. He attended a prestigious military boarding school in Virginia during his high school years and later attended Georgia State University for a few semesters.
“That’s where I got in a band and quit school to go on the road,” he recalled. “I played in mostly cover bands in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, but these were really big-production bands. I wasn’t out there playing Holiday Inns. We played big dance clubs, and in the ‘80s, dance was everything.”
Janes said he was on the road “almost full time for 10 years and got to play some cool shows.” His bands performed on cruise ships in the Caribbean, played the Gulf Coast region for a few years and toured throughout the South and even in Las Vegas.
He said the experience was invaluable.
“When I first went on the road, I was a good musician but a really green performer,” he said. “Playing five or six nights a week, I developed from being basically just a bass player to becoming a musical director for the bands and the primary male vocalist. I also played keyboards and guitar and bass; at one point I played a little trumpet. It really helped me develop my skills as a player.”
Kat came from a singing background, performing in choirs and theater musicals.
“I play piano but came at it (songwriting) from the singing aspect,” she said. “When I joined the band, Don already had the band intact with all the arrangements and everything. He gave me this list of cover songs and said ‘Here you go, learn these,’ and threw me into the mix.
“It was a learning process for me to learn to listen to the whole arrangement, listen to the other musicians and not just be the singer. It’s a whole different mind-set.”
Not long after Kat joined the band, she and Don decided to scale back and work as a duo. They started playing coffeehouses, bookstores and other venues that were a better fit for their quieter sound. Books and Brew in Milton became one of their favorite places to perform, and they also performed at The Bistro and The Speakeasy in Janesville.
Recently, after adding a drummer and bass player, 2RED hired an agent to help book larger gigs and get the group to “start playing regionally a little,” Kat said. And they’ve landed sponsorships from Miller Lite and Monster Drink, which helps in generating publicity.
She stressed that the strength of 2RED music derives from their musical differences: “Don grew up listening to southern rock, funk and blues…You can even catch a slight southern accent in him from time to time. Me, I grew up in the Midwest listening to pop- Pat Benetar, Cyndi Lauper, that sort of thing. I didn’t listen to rock. So my approach to melody and songwriting is really different from rock. But we put it over Don’s rock progressions on the guitar and combine it with his ideas and it’s this cool, interesting thing. You can hear my Midwest inflections creep through my annunciations when I sing…
“So when our very different musical backgrounds come together as Don and I collaborate on music, it’s this truly creative musical melding of our styles.”
Don said he’s looking forward to “doing some regional showcase stuff,” while maintaining Rock County as the band’s home base.
“One of my skills is putting bands together and getting them tight,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of success even drawing from a small pool of musicians like we have here in Rock County. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some really good players.
“Rock County’s funny,” he observed. “I’ve played all over the country, but I’ve never worked as hard for my money as I have here.”

- The Janesville Gazette

By Holly Myers, Staff Writer

It has been more than 20 years since it all began. Two separate lives came together to form not only a union, but one of the most musically talented couples in Janesville, Wis.
Don and Katrina (Kat) Janes started their band, 2RED, more than two years ago, but both have had musical talent since they were young.

Don has been writing songs and singing since the age of 15. He can play multiple instruments, including guitar, bass and keyboards.

“I can pick up almost anything,” Don said.

He started touring nationally in the ’80s and early ’90s. In 1999, he became more serious about playing and joined a band that played a majority of covers.

For the past two years, he has been in 2RED, recording and producing their new material and performing regionally.

Kat, on the other hand, began her journey to musical bliss at the young age of 3 when she began singing. Throughout her life, she attended voice lessons and was part of the choir and musical theater in school.

She sometimes plays the piano and bass while performing, but she’s always doing vocals. Due to her MBA in marketing and master’s degree in communications, Kat handles all the marketing, promotion and publicity for 2RED.

“I don’t want to do all the marketing,” Kat said. “I want to play, too.”

Kat tends to sing more of the female rock persuasion and loves to write ballads. She joined Don’s cover band following their marriage. Her transition into playing with the band came quickly.

Don said she was handed a list of songs and had to be ready in a short period of time to play gigs. During her third or fourth gig, she was still learning the musical terminology.

“I just kind of learned as we went,” Kat said.

She explained that it was a little more difficult for her because she came from a singing background and now had to learn to keep the beat with the other musicians.

Kat caught on quickly, and soon their first album, What You Get, was on its way to production. Within four to five weeks, 2RED had their album finished and ready to be distributed.

The album was completely written, produced, recorded and graphically designed by the Janes themselves. The songs were recorded the same way they play them live.

Don said it “leans more acoustic,” and Kat added that it’s “more alternative or indie.” Even though the album is absolutely remarkable, 2RED feels it doesn’t fully express the variety of styles they play.

Both Don and Kat write lyrics, but most of their songs have melodies written by Kat, while Don arranges chords under the melody.

Don’s brother, Geoff Janes, also writes a lot of their music. Geoff is an all-around music lover who has a collection of albums reaching high in the thousands. He usually sends 2RED 30 to 40 songs a month that he has written.

“He’s got a talent,” Don said. “I’m fortunate to be around two phenomenal writers.”

The band is hoping to have the next batch of albums sounding a little more radio-ready. Their new album is due out in January 2006, and will have more of a rock/electric sound.

2RED is still working on their new album in their personal recording studio, Loud Snap Publishing. They also recently hired a bass guitarist and drummer to complete their ensemble.

Their live shows are mostly within the southern Wisconsin area, but they have just hooked up with a booking agent who will be able to get them gigs in places like Chicago and St. Louis.

In the future, they would like to have the opportunity to play gigs on a regional level. To them, the money doesn’t matter ... they just want to be able to share their passion with others.

Kat sent out about 60 press kits to various independent recording labels in the past few months, and has already received two semi-interested companies. The band would like to be picked up by a label to help them distribute their albums.

For the present time, they’re sharing their passion by having their music played on a Janesville radio station and selling their first album at area businesses, including The Exclusive Company in Janesville and Books & Brew in Milton, Wis.

Don and Kat keep busy with regular jobs and their family, but they still make sure they have time to keep their music a big focus in their lives.

2RED will play at The Bistro, 2443 Milton Ave., in Janseville, Wis., Saturday, Oct. 29 from 7 to 10 p.m. Show info: 608/754-6272.

For more information on 2RED, e-mail 2red@loudsnap.com, visit www.2redmusic.com or call 608/931-3439.

From the Oct. 26-Nov. 1, 2005, issue

- The Rock River Times


2RED released their first 12-track CD titled, "What You Get" in June of 2005. The CD is available at such national venues as The Exclusive Company, Borders Books and Barnes & Noble. Their sophomore album is set to release in the fall of 2006.

2RED has been played on Madison, Wisconsin's Rock radio station, 96.3 FM and student radio WSUM as well as Rockford Illinois top 40 station, 97.5 WZOK and Stevens Point, WI station, 90 FM. 2RED is also being spun on V-Pang radio at www.live365.com


Feeling a bit camera shy


2RED is a prolific song-writing team performing an all-original package as duo, a 3-piece acoustic act and a 4-piece band throughout the Midwest. They have a large catalogue of material with split male/ female vocals. Their music is pop/ rock/ alternative. 2RED released their first 12-track CD titled, "What You Get" in June of 2005. The CD is available at such venues as The Exclusive Company, Borders Books and Barnes & Noble. Their sophomore album is set to release in the fall of 2006.

Don is a multi-instrumentalist, who has been writing songs and singing since age 15. He toured nationally before earning a music degree from University of Wisconsin- Whitewater. He is now concentrating on recording and producing 2RED's new material and performing their all-original package regionally and nationally.

Kat has been singing since age 3, and also plays piano and bass guitar. She has been performing live throughout Wisconsin for the past 8 years, and is now concentrating on writing, recording and performing with 2RED regionally and nationally. Kat has also earned her MBA in Marketing and her MS in Communications, and she handles the marketing, promotion and publicity for 2RED.

2RED draws from such influences as: No Doubt, Tom Petty, Heart, Elton John, Alanis Morissette, Earth Wind & Fire, Fefe Dobson, Weezer, Pat Benetar, Nellie Furtado, ELO, Jewel and Christina Aguilera

2RED has secured national sponsors, Miller Lite and Monster Energy Drinks and is published through Loud Snap Productions. www.loudsnap.com