Half-Pint Jones
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Half-Pint Jones

South Bend, Indiana, United States | SELF

South Bend, Indiana, United States | SELF
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"Scene, List, Review, Go"

This is an article that was printed just prior to our name change, to "Half-Pint Jones'.

Scene, List, Release, Go
Friday, May 18, 2007 6:10 PM CDT
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By Joey Marburger

Scene: Hoodoo Groove/ Half-Pint Jones

After Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, people were forced to evacuate and relocate. Chris Olivier relocated to Michigan. And what Olivier brought with him was the eventual foundation for the band Hoodoo Groove. As a saxophone player, Olivier brought some of the Big Easy to Three Oaks, Michigan, through the music he grew up with.

With a fusion of New Orleans-style jazz with funk, reggae and a little bit of each member’s individual influence, Hoodoo Groove tries to show their own personalities and musical diversity based on each member’s past. As Jayson Sites, bass player for the group, says it’s like a “musical homecoming.”

“Chris brings everything from New Orleans,” Sites says. “These guys are phenomenal. New Orleans just comes through as we are trying to show our own personality.”

Hoodoo Groove sticks to their songs live for the most part, but the band incorporates some improvisation, giving them some definite freedom to show off each member’s style. “We play to the crowd,” Sites says. “If people want to dance, then we want them to dance. We try to keep that energy with the crowd, so we will keep a song going.”

The band will release their debut album in May, “hopefully,” Sites says.

To hear Hoodoo Groove’s music, visit www.myspace.com/hoodoogroove.
('Hoodoo Groove' is now 'Half-Pint Jones')

This is a link to the full article:
http://visitshoremagazine.com/articles/2007/05/18/shorelines/listen/doc46433caa5f234480024515.txt - Shore Magazine

"Half-Pint Jones grooves 'full-on'"

Half-Pint Jones grooves 'full-on'

Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- They may no longer advertise it in their name, but the members of Half-Pint Jones still have their groove on.

Formerly known as Hoodoo Groove, the South Bend-based quintet changed bass players and names in December.

Like a good improvisational unit, Half-Pint Jones picked its new name through the not- uncommon band-naming technique of word association.

"We were just looking at different names, and there was some guy on the back of an old baseball card," drummer Steve Krojniewski says. "I think his name was 'Lefty' Jones. We saw this half-pint, and we thought, 'This and this work together.' That's how it worked, just throwing names out at random and seeing what worked."

"Random" hardly describes the band's approach to its music. Although solos play a key role in the band's sound, its songs sound tightly constructed and feature a rich, dynamic range of styles, arrangements and rhythms.

Jazz remains the dominant melodic feature of Half-Pint Jones' music, but the rhythm section of Krojniewski and bass player Jayson Sites lays down a solid, funk- and R&B-based groove as the foundation for lead players Chris Olivier on saxophone, Mark Gamble on trumpet and Justin Ross on guitar.

"We thought the music was going in a new direction," Krojniewski says of why Sites' addition led to the name change. "We talked about doing an album, and we thought we should change the name."

The band did make an album, "The Trilogy of Patches and Olaf," which it will release tonight with a performance at The Vine in downtown South Bend.

"Things are going forward for us, and we want to do it full time," Krojniewski says. "I think this is our launching pad. The album is the thing that takes us to the next level."

As for the band's previous levels, Olivier and original bass player Matt Miles formed the band in January 2006, and it quickly established itself as an original act on the local scene under its former name. Much of the band's sound and focus come from Olivier, a New Orleans native who moved to northern Indiana with his wife and children after Hurricane Katrina (she grew up in Middlebury).

Other influences, however, play into Half-Pint Jones' sound.

"Chi-Chi's" has a Latin-based funk sound to it, for instance, while other songs include elements of reggae, brass band and rock. The 11-minute-long instrumental "Erin's Groove" provides perhaps the best example of the band's mixing of styles: It opens with a long unaccompanied straight-ahead jazz solo by Olivier that adds the swing of New Orleans jazz to it after the rest of the band joins in with lightly funky groove from Sites and Krojniewski; a part-jazz, part-rock solo by Ross in the middle then breaks up Olivier's two main solo sections.

"We definitely want the songs to let us know what we're supposed to do," Krojniewski says. "It really doesn't matter if it's jazzy or on the rock side or the pop side. If it's going to come out, and all of us are mature enough to listen, we want everything to come out. No limitations."

"No limitations" also sums up the band's approach to its future and its new name.

"Half-Pint Jones, I think, essentially, people look at a half-pint as half-empty," Krojniewski says. "I think it's half-full with room to grow. We feel that as this unit, we could continue to work together for a long time, and we have so much room to grow, so it's wonderful, a positive thing."

The band plans to work together for a long time, and not just locally. They recently signed a business agreement that formalizes their partnership, Krojniewski says, and bought a vehicle for touring and hired their own soundman, Steve Pierce, formerly of Full Range Audio.

"I think we're looking to go as far as we can go," the drummer says. "Being a guy in his mid-30s, you know that it doesn't last long, and you have to go after it when you can. These guys have offered me a chance to go after it a little longer, or full-on."

Here is a link to the story:
http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070817/Ent/708170487/1038/Ent - South Bend Tribune

"Half-Pint Jones video clip link"

This is simply a link to a video clip, taken from our show with Umphrey's McGee on 8/31/07.

http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200770904075# - South Bend Tribune

"Half-Pint Jones: The Next Big Thing?"

Featured in October issue.

link to website:


We’ve seen it happen before: a local band makes it all the
way from playing at $5 keggers to playing before tens of
thousands of fans, their fans. The most current iteration of that phe-
nomenon, Umphrey’s McGee, was in town this Labor Day weekend,
playing a concert at St. Patrick’s County Park. Half Pint Jones, the
local band that opened the show, shares some musical history with
Umphrey’s, and hopes for similar musical success. If fortune calls,
their bags are packed.
Half Pint Jones is a five-man group of jazz/latin/R&B/New
Orleans brass/rock music wizards. It’s not really magic, though: it’s
a combination of education and experience resulting in expertise that
just sounds like it. All totaled, this new band has close to a hundred
years of playing and performing experience under its collective belt.
Saxophonist Chris Olivier began gigging half his life ago while
still a teenager in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Trumpeter
Mark Gamble, who at 43 is the old man of the group, began playing
34 years ago in school, and then in local jazz bands. “I wasn’t wear-
ing big boy pants back then,” jokes his pal Olivier.
Gamble and Olivier, who are a musical package deal as far as
they are concerned, met playing in Chicago. While studying at the
Bloom School of Jazz in that city, they met guitarist Justin Ross. At 28,
Ross is the youngest, but even he has been playing out for 11 years.
Upon meeting Ross, Olivier said, “There’s not a whole lot happenin’
in South Bend, so let’s make somethin’ happen.”
They recruited drummer Steve Krojniewski. ‘Krojo’ has played in
quite a few of South Bend’s most popular alternative and jam bands:
Mushroomhead Experience and Ali Baba’s Tahini are two names
you’ll likely recognize. Here’s the shared history part: Umphrey’s
McGee lead guitarist Jake Cinninger, who went to St. Joseph’s High
School along with bandmate Brendan Bayliss, was in Ali Baba’s
Tahini with Krojo.
Cinninger has praise for his old bandmate: “It’s his style and at-
titude that make him a great musician, and great to play with.” About
opening for Umphrey’s McGee, Krojo said, “Having them see what
I’m doing with these guys, that’s gonna make it pop.”
Bassist Jayson Sites was the last musician on board. He said it
feels like serendipity; “I had just said out loud that I really missed
playing in a band. It wasn’t two days before the phone rang and it
was Krojo.”
They all agree that the timing couldn’t be better. “We’ve all gone
through the experience of first being born musically, then learning
how to crawl, then to walk, and now we’re running,” says Krojo.
More like dancing; listen to their first CD, Trilogy of Patches and
Olaf, and you’ll think ‘big name, big label.’ In performance, the
group uses no charts, has no music stands between them and the
audience. They charge ahead, stop on a dime, change direction and
keep going. No one is leading, and nobody’s lost.
“It’s a musical language, and just like any language, you have to
become fluent in it. It takes hours and hours of practice, for days and
days and years on end,” explains Olivier. “It’s not only ability, it’s
a natural drive. That [music] is what you do, and you’re not happy
without it.”
Although they perform the occasional cover, like Stevie Wonder’s
Livin’ In the City, the band’s focus is collaborating on their original mu-
sic. Justin Ross, the guitarist, is the one who usually starts the process,
but notes, “People probably assume that I’m the front man because I
do most of the singing, most of the talking and I play a guitar. I prob-
ably do a majority of the songwriting, but it certainly is not all me. I
can’t write a horn line better than the horn players because they know
their instruments better than I do. It [taking the lead in songwriting] is
probably by default because I play a chordal instrument, the guitar.
But everybody writes their own parts.”
Sites adds, “We have people who are willing to communicate. …
It’s as if there’s a sketchbook sitting on this table in front of all of us,
with an empty page. Someone sketches something, and then we sort
of pass it around, and with the tools we have, we add color or flavor
and come up with the image that it is at the end.”
Stop and ask yourself: have you ever been in such a situation with
people who share your passion and are so willing to collaborate?
Then you know, or you can imagine, how far such combined ener-
gies can take you. Umphrey’s McGee’s Jake Cinninger says keeping
a steady vision of where they want to go, will help Half-Pint Jones
achieve their goals like it helped his band. “Over the five years we
were locked in a van, we would constantly visualize that tour bus,
those big stages.”
For Half Pint Jones, the visualization includes planning on the busi-
ness end. “We have a publicist, we have an entertainment lawyer;
we’ve paid for a professional website. We’re pretty close to having a
booking agent,” explains Sites. “We have a partnership agreement
together. We’re doing the things that are necessary on the business
side of it so that we’re free to do what we want to do on the music
side of it.”
Do they worry that with success, they will no longer be free to do
what they want musically? What if they get caught in the success trap
of fans screaming for their hits?
Sites relates, “There’s always going to be the
same substructure.” Nods of agreement from
fellow band members; they’ve obviously had this
conversation before. “But I think the people who
are fans of our music, who are fans of us, will be
able to understand what they are getting [at a live
Fans of improvisational music, which includes
jam bands like Umphrey’s McGee and jazz/rock/
R&B/New Orleans brass groups like Half-Pint
Jones know they are witnessing music being cre-
ated before their eyes. They know they’re privy
to a sophisticated conversation, full of color and
flavor, being carried on in music language, and if
they listen wholeheartedly, they will understand.
At the end of the Umphrey’s McGee concert,
Krojo joined them onstage for the encore, titled
Syncopated Strangers. In the words of one fan, “It
was awesome. They rocked! Krojo really brought
down the house.” Can that enthusiasm of a home-
town crowd translate into success in the cold, hard
world of the music business? Success is a broad-
spectrum concept. A big tour bus would be great,
but Justin Ross says a lot with, “The only thing I
want is to be able to play for a living. That’s the
only way to get as good as I want to be.”

Half-Pint Jones: The Next Big Thing?

- Flagship Publications (IN Michiana magazine)

"Southern Fusion"

the link: http://www.lakemagazine.com/magazine/article.asp?articleid=LID-911-O1MDE-200761

Hurricane Katrina. The name dredges up images of devastation. When the storm forced saxophone player Chris Olivier – a New Orleans native – to move to northern Indiana, he brought the sound of his hometown with him.

Married with three children, Olivier and his family tried to weather out the storm. Then, they ran out of food. “I had a full tank of gas in our SUV, so we literally rode the levee for five miles before we could find a road to drive on,” he says. “We were probably an hour outside of the city when we heard the levees broke. There was no way out of New Orleans anymore. We just barely made it.”

Olivier’s wife, Erin, hails from Middlebury, Ind., so the family settled nearby. There, Olivier – who began playing in the French Quarter at 15, he says, “sneaking into the clubs with all these older guys” – didn’t find much of a music scene. So he corralled four area musicians, two of whom he met as students at the Bloom School of Jazz in Chicago, and birthed Half-Pint Jones. The band features Olivier on sax, Mark Gamble on trumpet, Steve Krojniewski on drums, Justin Ross on lead guitar and vocals, and Jayson Sites on bass.

“We’re like a traditional bebop band from the ’50s and ’60s,” Olivier says. “There are so many New Orleans elements but also a rock element and East Coast jazz. It’s a fusion of all these different styles, and I really feel it’s a fresh, new sound.” The band has no shortage of gigs in the region, having played the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Mich., The Vine in South Bend and Martyrs in Chicago.

Ross writes the lyrics, which range from poetic love songs to everyday observations, such as these from “The Bachelor” off their debut CD, Trilogy of Patches and Olaf:

Don’t remember when I

last made my bed

I never give it much thought

take a shower instead

This is the life I lead. . .

. . .why don’t you take it from me

’cause I live the life of a bachelor

Half-Pint Jones seems like a deliriously happy group. Drummer Krojniewski calls the band his soul medicine. “From the beginning, my concept was: I wanted everybody to play what they’re feeling,” Olivier says. “If you’re playing true to yourself, then people will know that.”

Indeed, listening to Half-Pint Jones will take you higher than drinking a half-pint of Jack Daniel’s. And the only hangover you’ll have is a delicious residue of rollicking music with a New Orleans kick – from Michiana musicians who would rather play for you than do anything else in the world.

Half-Pint Jones

Oct. 19, 9 p.m.

Legends at Notre Dame

South Bend, Ind.

halfpintjones.com - LAKE magazine

"Genre defying 'Half-Pint Jones'"

link: http://media.www.ndsmcobserver.com/media/storage/paper660/news/2007/10/19/Scene/Genre.Defying.halfPint.Jones.Comes.To.Legends-3042987.shtml


What do you get when you cross a New Orleans-bred saxophonist with a group of versatile Michiana musicians that includes a drummer named "Krojo"?
Shaken Cajun-style, not stirred, these ingredients get you Half-Pint Jones, a genre-defying, South Bend-based, jazz-reggae-funk-with-a-twist ensemble that arrives today at Legends.
Half-Pint Jones comes to the Notre Dame and Saint Mary's communities with a somewhat mythic story behind it.
The band's founding member, Chris Olivier, grew up in New Orleans, La., a proud member of the city's well-known musical culture. Like much of the N'awlins musician community, however, Olivier, a saxophonist, found himself and his family displaced by the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Surprisingly, he wound up in - you probably guessed it - South Bend, Indiana.
In time, Olivier found other like-minded musicians in the area to jam with, eventually resulting in the eclectic group that they are today. Several of the musicians have played with each other previously in different contexts, but Half-Pint Jones is the final result.
The band consists of Olivier, Steve Krojniewski (a.k.a. "Krojo") on drums, Jayson Sites on bass, guitarist and vocalist Justin Ross and trumpet player Mark Gamble. The mix of musicians has helped Half-Pint Jones develop its unique music - undefined by any particular genre, the band has created a combination of jazz, funk and other types to create a sound that, to the band, is also reminiscent of their musical heritage.
"We're like a traditional bebop band from the '50s and '60s," Olivier said in a recent interview with Lakeview Magazine. "There are so many New Orleans elements but also a rock element and East Coast jazz. It's a fusion of all these different styles, and I really feel it's a fresh, new sound."
The band released their first album, "Trilogy of Patches and Olaf," this past summer, which exhibits their penchant for mixing up musical conventions as well as their varied individual talents.
"From the beginning, my concept was [that] I wanted everybody to play what they're feeling," Olivier told Lakeview Magazine. "If you're playing true to yourself, then people will know that."
As effortless as it may seem on "Trilogy of Patches and Olaf" for the band members to play off of each other's strengths, it can't be done without effort and care for the music itself.
"It's a musical language, and just like any language, you have to become fluent in it. It takes hours and hours of practice, for days and days and years on end," Olivier said in an interview with IN-Michiana magazine. "It's not only ability, it's a natural drive. That [music] is what you do, and you're not happy without it."
Legends will offer a small, more intimate venue for the band.
The concert begins at 7 tonight, a tough time slot for a football weekend. But given the skills and strengths of this jazz-rock-funk-with-a-twist group of musicians, Half-Pint Jones should definitely tear down the house anyway.
Make sure to check your expectations at the door. - The Observer


"Trilogy of Patches and Olaf" -2007
"Single File" -2008
"Half-Pint Jones" -2012
Where to find us online:



Half-Pint Jones, essentially, was born while a gig was already in place, back in 2006. 5 guys, sitting in a, now defunct, Mishawaka, Indiana Brew Pub, tossing around the need to rename the reformed band that lasted only a short 6 months prior. The seed of which was brought up from New Orleans, Louisiana by original saxophone player Chris Olivier. Having been chased out by Hurricane Katrina, and forced to relocate further north, he picked up the phone and started making some calls. Those calls led to the foundation of what is now a band that is over 5 years strong, 3 albums deep, and on the rise.

Shortly after the renaming of the band, the first album 'Trilogy of Patches and Olaf' was recorded. Don't ask anybody in the band to explain that title. You won't get a clear answer. Or, go ahead and ask, but don't expect the same answer twice. The album was recorded in a friend's home studio, and was the culmination of the tightest material the band had to offer from its many live performances. The goal was simple: have fun, take some chances, and don't worry about time. Some of the standout tracks from that album are "Chi Chis", "In Your Skin", "Kite Boy", and the album titled track that cuts through like a freight train, "Trilogy of Patches and Olaf".

After recording 'Trilogy', and releasing those inspired musical ghosts into the ethereal world of the audio stream, Half-Pint Jones began a long steady schedule of playing live shows and writing new material for the eventual follow-up album. And, as evolution provides, their live shows grew stronger… and the material followed suit. That rue started to thicken, and get its flavor.

Recognizing a need to produce sharper, more well defined, and "radio friendly" tracks for the next album, the band took the challenge with great stride. The unified goal was an exercise in trying to extract the best elements of a composition, with seemingly infinite possibility, into a smaller composite that still held the necessary bookends and sustenance that provided the story it needed to tell.

The resulting effort was aptly named 'Single File'. A whimsical, sarcastic nod to the suggestion that the album was just that… a file full of singles. From beginning to end, the album showcases a myriad of growth. Not just in the cohesiveness of the band, bred from the backbone of the live shows it plays, but in the songwriting, and the musicianship that each player brought to the recording.

The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Kingsize Studios in Chicago, and in a staggeringly short amount of time. In fact, for some of the tracking the band slept in the studio. Strewn about the vocal booth, control room, live room… it was an "eat, drink, and sleep the album" environment.

The album opens with "Moist Air". An up-tempo, late 60's-soul flavored offering that sets a nice funky meter to the albums smooth flow. "Ryn", a soulful love ballad, keeps step with the other mixed tempos on the album, but stands on its own. "Mark's Ballgame", an instant booty shaker at live shows, follows right after. The album shifts gears with "My Name", and "Jam Sandwich for Jonas" takes the band down to New Orleans to visit the flavor they love to experiment with the most.

The album was very well received, and garners a lot of support and consistent local radio play. What followed was another long string of shows, sharing the stages with Umphrey's McGee and the Young Dubliners, making new fans, and writing for a new album. This album would be their best material to date. The name of the album is simply "Half-Pint Jones", and is another strong step in the evolution of a band that shows no signs of putting the brakes on. From the opening looping drone to the closing, raw, acoustic statement that sets the bookends, surprises are laced throughout this eponymous release, and it has the telltale signs of growth written all over it. Simply put, this band isn't content with resting on its laurels.