Big Dume
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Big Dume

Band Rock Blues


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"Big Dume at Pub 181"

by Kurt "Swingcat" Johnson

When first hearing Big Dume's debut CD Inside My Head, this writer thought this is pretty cool, a mix of alternative rock, an undercurrent of jazz and some blues elements. Nice! And with a hottie blond lead singer, hmmm, this could be a cool band to go see. So when covering their show at Gresham's Pub 181, this writer was expecting a pleasant evening of alternative rock and jazz. What they did was some of the grittiest, greasiest, grimiest, grooving blues heard since covering blues and classic rock bands. And that includes
blues legends at the Waterfront Blues Festival.

With a mix of heavy rock, and very modern blues grooves they shook the crowd with shock and awe. A three-piece band from Malibu, Calif., the band is Brandon Jenner on vocals, guitar and keys; Leah Felder on vocals and keys; and Chris Steele on drums and percussion. They also appear with guest bass players.

On this evening, the show was opened with the Portland alternative rock band Autumn Blue laying down a rocking set.

Big Dume members all live together in a beach house in Malibu. The band has some star-level heritage. Guitarist Jenner is Olympic Champion Bruce Jenner's son and was one of the stars of the Fox Network television show Princes of Malibu. Keyboardist Felder's dad is Don Felder, guitar player with The Eagles for 25 years. Drummer Steele's claim to fame is that his brother Chris Steele plays guitar and sings in Autumn Blue and also hosts Karaoke at Pub 181 during the week, hence the hook-up for the Pub 181 show.

Big Dume's show consists of two parts. The first is a completely electric set featuring Felder's torch-blues singing and strutting stage presence. With long, flowing blond hair and a body to die for, there's both elements of Gwen Stefani and Debbie Harry. But Felder transcends them both. With sass and attitude, she struts and slithers around the stage and strikes the listener hard and fast like a cobra! Add vocals akin to Susan Tedeschi meeting Etta James and you get the picture. Simply captivating.

As a musical unit, Big Dume lays down a thundering groove on their blues pieces, yet in their acoustic set, it floats and sways. On their original
composition Mexico, Jenner leads with vocals and acoustic guitar while
Felder backs him with keys and harmonies. Steele performs unusual
percussion, sitting on a big wood box (looks like a subwoofer) played with
his left hand, and a small conga-like drum with a brush. The effect is
ethereal with a lightness yet grinding underlying beat. And so it goes.

Together just over two years, Big Dume is receiving national-level
recognition. Band Manager Erik Shafer explains, "The CD's in every store from Walmart to Target, CD Baby and digitally on the internet. The CD has been released in conjunction with the Fox Network TV Show Princes of Malibu in which Brandon was one of the stars. It's a diverse sounding record, with jazz, blues and alternative elements. We're looking to promote the CD for a year or two, then put up another CD."

Each band member adds something unique and adds to the continuing evolution of their sound. Jenner explains, "We're still evolving and always will. We're open to all different styles of music as shown on the CD. It's a just a good time. There's no rules. I'm a big Jimi Hendrix fan. I like mistakes. I stopped woodshedding stuff. I just try to listen. I play what I like, not
just how it sounds but how it feels. I connect with brutal honesty. You
can't be inhibited. No matter what you think of yourself, it's important to dig deep and let it all hang out. And that's exactly what I do."

Vocalist Felder describes her role; "I'm the icing on the cake. I'm NOT the flour. I bring a whole other dimension with my vocals. I'm the only estrogen on stage. I'm the only pair of tits on stage so those help. I'm the sass. I put my heart in it. I put a lot of soul in it. When it's working, I get a lot of catcalls. My stage presence helps people loosen up and gets them up to dance. And that's what it's all about!"

Drummer Chris Steele talks about what he brings; "I lay down the groove and fill in any holes that are there. You can do a lot off the drums
harmonically. If I play stuff, others will play off it. If I play loud and
angry then the band will play loud and angry. When the crowd sees someone playing passionately and working hard, the crowd knows it's for real and that turns heads."

With a sassy and brassy lead singer, heavy in-the-pocket blues grooves and smooth flowing jazz undercurrent, Big Dume is an act you don't want to miss. Much has been said about the future of the blues. When you listen to Big Dume, you come to the realization that this is what the future of the blues needs to be and Portland's Waterfront Blues Festival needs to book this band. Peter Dammann are you listening??? You can see more of Big Dume at
their website - Positively Entertaining & Dining

"Leah Felder"

Growing up music was all around young Leah Felder. But that didn’t make it any easier for her to pursue her dreams. She received singing lessons and piano lessons; but she was refused her desired guitar instruction. Her father had taught himself; so perhaps he felt she should (or could!) do so as well. And teach herself to play guitar Leah did! I can’t help but think this had to have helped create the Leah of today. Passionate and persistent alike I don’t think Leah quite yet realizes the power of her past. Yet if you listen to her music, you yourself certainly will know that something has given this lady a wisdom beyond her years.

Bombarded by the likes of Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, it’s almost as if Leah Felder has arrived from some other planet. Given the attention given to the former two, it would be easy to say we have all simply had a traumatic lapse of judgment; but then again have we been given a choice? Alicia Keyes comes up as someone Leah truly admires as well as Diana Krall. Agreed! But these are rarities. Thank G-d Leah admires these types; thank G-d she aspires to follow their lead.

Going back to her youth, Leah was no Mickey Mouse Club member. In fact, having been told by her parents that at age 16 she absolutely could NOT perform in the local Malibu bars, Leah Felder would sneak out of her house late at night to sing her songs . . . . and get paid to do so. It was small pay; but there were big lessons to be learned. She had a talent; it was a talent that sold. And it was a talent she was dedicated to growing. She took an initiative few her age would dare take; and she was determined to make something of it. Leah tells me with a forceful grace, “At 16 I knew I loved this, I knew I had to do this; and yet, I was thinking, how am I going to make it . . . how am I going to get my music out there.”

If there is anything we have lost in much music nowadays, it is what music was originally all about . . . . expression. This has not been lost on Leah Felder; it is the very art of telling a story and sharing her emotions, in essence sharing her life, that fuels her songs. As she states, “making music, expressing yourself . . . this is what good music is really about.” It was this ability to communicate which would make music Leah’s passion during her high school years. Playing after school with her band in a friend’s basement (with less than stellar equipment), this was life; in fact, it was “a slice of heaven.” Other forms of expression did not escape Leah. She danced ballet and hip-hop, would draw and act. She actually was nominated for a Best Actress award at a SMMASH film festival for playing the fiancée of a schizophrenic in the independent film “Murder Inside of Me.”

But song-writing (and song singing!) would prove dominant. It was and remains today the process which draws Leah to this art form; and it is this process we feel and which draws us to her art. “I love the final product! But during the writing . . . creating . . .it’s a therapy session!” Leah exclaims laughing. Be it silly, sad, happy or introspective, Leah can look back at any given song and be reminded of exactly where she was at that point in her life. More importantly perhaps, she can see exactly how she has grown since then. Her music represents her life; and it represents ours! Leah’s melodies and her words allow us access to our own memories, to our own past (happy and sad) and to our dreams and hopes for the future. Real music allows others to live . . . to feel, to dream, to believe, and sometimes, yes, hurt. For all the good and all the bad, music should above all things remind us we are human; and that’s a beautiful thing! If there is one thing Leah Felder has, it’s soul.

So how about getting her music “out there?” Leah’s has played with various bands through the years. At each phase of her career she has felt a tremendous unity with those around her; it was always the right thing at the right time. Now with “Big Dume,” Leah once again is lucky enough to feel a oneness with her fellow artists. She speaks with exuberant pride of her band-mates and their recent release “Inside My Head.” This may be above all because they released this album independently. Now they are in the midst of working on their second album, and the question looms: stay independent or go with a major label?

This is where Leah betrays a maturity well beyond her years; she also intoxicates us with her artistic purity. Suffice it to say, Leah is hesitant when it comes to the big labels. Giving up creative control is something she cringes at. “Independently . . . you stay true to yourself.” But the marketing and promotional machine of the big boys can be overwhelming. Being rich is not something Leah aspires to; then again, being a “starving artist” can be tough! Ultimately it is the record companies who seemingly are the best at enabling you (and your music) to reach so many; and this can be difficult to ignore.

So, Leah Felder . . . what would you have to say to a major record company exec?
“First of all, I don’t want to be an image . . . and I wouldn’t want to be promoted as anybody’s daughter,” Leah states. “I want someone to love who you are and what you are bringing to the table.” Leah wants an industry where they see and hear your music, and they simply want to back YOU. She sees the ideal environment being one wherein the powers that be aim only to connect you with all the people of the world . . . . where “the executive” would let you decide what you want to be true to and what you want to say to the world. We hear ya Leah.

Why is this not the case? Leah explains that given her experience (and what we ourselves can see out there!) people (the labels) seem to have preconceived notions of what sells. They may like you, and they say they want to sell you; but they always end up trying to put you in that box. It is as if they can not conceive of venturing away from that formula.

Well, it’s a formula many of us are truly tiring of. A lot of our culture, especially music and film, has lost that meaning it originally was meant to betray. It makes one wonder: what exactly are people relating to nowadays?? Leah Felder was just in Memphis for Elvis Week. She was lucky enough to take in some amazing blues players. It was sad knowing that many people will never hear this music, these tunes. And this is simply a result of them just not being mainstream.

So Leah, here we are in L.A. . . . . where could I go for a good evening of jazz? “I don’t know!” she says longingly . To anyone out there who has an answer, please let us know!

In the meantime, you could come catch some refreshing new tunes from the beautiful and true Leah Felder at her PinkLight PRESENTS concert Sept 23rd . . . . “All Evening, All Leah . . . UNCOMPROMISED” . . . for those of you dare.
- Pink

"Big Dume Inside My Head"

July 29, 2005 - Hailing from Malibu, Brian Jenner, Leah Felder, and Chris Steele formed Big Dume and with their debut album, Inside My Head, show us what talented musicians sound like when they think life sucks.

Inside My Head is filled with anguish, death, drug addiction, loss, all amplified by Jenner, whose voice projects his pain. Opening with the title track, we are hurled into the album with a hard-hitting surge that crashes left and right, and in the wake of the storm Jenner thunders "My lying has lost all control/ Now you can see inside my head."

As the tragedy augments from "Mexico" (a tale of drug-alcohol addiction) to "Hummingbirds" (a meth-induced diatribe about humanity), and then into the bubbly "Vanity," you realize that you've been listening for 40 minutes, and you don't want the hurt to stop.

Why? Despite the mournful and somber tone of the songs, Inside My Head is inspired musically, and it swoops between styles effortlessly, yet maintains a consistent sound. In other words, Inside My Head is, musically, fun to listen to as it dances amidst the rain.

If you move past the unrelenting misery laid down on every track, this is a good album. Big Dume is a band with a lot of talent. For all of Inside My Head's musical energy becomes truncated by the sheer gloom ignited in the lyrics. Maybe they'll let the sun me out in the midst of their hurricane for a bit on their next installment. -


Also visit our myspace

"Inside My Head" LP Chartless Records (July 2005)

"Trigger Happy" single (April 2006)



Hi, we're BIG DUME. We are a band based out of Malibu, Ca. We eat, sleep and work together... so you can imagine how tight our music is. We are humbled by the recent nomination of this years LA Music Awards for best Independent Rock Album Of The Year for "Inside My Head". Aside from Chris' IBS our set up is heavenly.

the band...
Leah Felder was born and raised in Malibu, Ca. Growing up the neighborhood Tomboy, she claims, gave her the "balls" she has on stage. She studied dance, voice and piano in her adolescent years. After graduating from Concord Highschool in 2001, Leah studied at The Musicians Institute in West Hollywood. "Her voice sounds like a black girl trapped in a little white girls body." Al Bowman LA Music awards

Brandon Jenner, also a Malibu native, grew up surrounded by great music, however, it was not untill his junior year of college that he picked up a guitar. Now the man shreds with a rock/blues style that has been hibernating with in him since his childhood years.

Chris Steele, out of Butler, Pa. has his masters degree from USC in Jazz studies. His talents flurish on the full kit as well as captivate on the cajon.