Happy Jack Frequency
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Happy Jack Frequency

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | SELF
Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




By Laura Cayouette
Y'ats enjoyed another great night of music in Lafayette Square, courtesy of our world champion Saints and benefitting the Youth Leadership Council. The crowd was subdued, mostly remaining seated for Happy Jack Frequency, a pop rock band featuring James Martin. WWOZ 90.7 broadcasted the event live for our local listening pleasure. Martin is a fireball of energy who clearly loves being onstage and the music ranged from upbeat originals to a hard driving version of Lady GaGa's "Bad Romance."
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During the break, real estate developer and philanthropist, Roger Ogden, announced the impending re-opening of the cinemas at Canal Place. On the 26th, the "first premium, premiere luxury cinema in the state of Louisiana" will open, featuring plush leather reclining seats (rumored to have fold out tables), 5 screens of first-run independent films as well as main stream films, all anchored with a bistro with food by Adolfo Garcia and a full service bar. I, for one, am thrilled to see the theatre finally reopening. Additionally, Anthropologie, the vintage-esque clothing and housewares retailer, will be opening a two-story flagship store of almost 14000 square feet, the biggest location outside of Manhattan, in August.

The afternoon was bittersweet. The odor of spilled oil was drowned out by the aroma of the local cuisine being sold to raise funds for the Youth Leadership Council. Happy Jack's Martin may have been the first to bring up the Gulf disaster and its impact on our community, but he was certainly not the last. Announcements were made regarding the upcoming "Gulf Aid" concert this Sunday benefitting local fisherman, among others. The concert stars Lenny Kravitz, Allen Toussaint, Mos Def, Tab Benoit, Dr. John, Cyril Neville and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Tickets are $50. People onstage and off were enthusiastic about holding BP to its promise of making restitutions. The town seems in agreement on this issue - you break it, you bought it.

The crowd was on its feet and ready to dance when the Dirty Dozen Brass Band took the stage. Formed in 1977, the band's traditional tunes and infectious energy kicked into high gear by the time they led us all in chants of "Who Dat!" during local anthem, "When the Saints Go Marching In." Sousaphonist, Kirk Joseph, son of trombonist, Waldren "Frog" Joseph, mixes traditional brass band sounds with jazz and funk without ever taking a break from hauling that giant instrument around a humid stage. Trumpeter, Leroy Jones, played so many horns that at one point he blew two separate horns into two mics at once. Never seen that before.

I'm a sucker for a great brass band and Dirty Dozen is a truly great brass band. I loved their inclusion of so many traditional tunes including "Fiyo on the Bayou" and "Li'l Liza Jane."

After the performance, I spoke with fan, Daryl Young AKA DancingMan504, who is best known for his second line dancing at most major local events. His program, Heel-2-Toe, teaches our youth the culture and traditions of second line. "I use [Heel-2-Toe] to help kids to stop running around and to find focus through music." He recently went to Paris, where he taught the children at Josephine Baker Elementary as well as other schools, bringing a bit of New Orleans to the old Orleans. This all led up to a grand parade through Paris with the Soul Rebels Brass Band, "Because I love my Rebels." He said the children of Paris were very receptive. "When I showed them the Saints' logo, they went crazy." He hopes next to take children from New Orleans to France. He noted that the world is full of different nationalities and religions, but that inside the Heel-2-Toe program is "a place where [children] can be free and learn structure because a second line looks like chaos, but it has structure." He lamented the recent loss of Brandon Franklin, 22, the saxophonist from T.B.C. Brass Band and Assistant Band Director at O. Perry Walker High School, who was shot Sunday night. Young clearly cares for the youth of this city and funds Heel-2-Toe out of his own pocket with proceeds from his appearances. - NOLADefender.com


Wednesday at the Square is a growing tradition for people working and living in the downtown area. During the spring months, they know that any Wednesday afternoon they can walk down to Lafayette Square and catch a variety of music from some of the city's most interesting performers.
This evening's show is no exception. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band will headline, guaranteeing a solid New Orleans vibe, but the intriguing part of the show will come from the opening act, Happy Jack Frequency.
Like a lot of the best music coming out of New Orleans these days, Happy Jack Frequency can trace its roots back to the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. It was there that sax player James Martin first started hanging out with another member of the NOCCA Mafia, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, who got him into the second line scene.
"I've been playing in the second lines since high school," Martin said. "I was lucky Trombone Shorty took me under his wing."
Martin went on to play saxophone in Shorty's band, but wanted to be more than the horn guy.
"My influence as a musician are very diverse," Martin said, just like every musician does. In his case though, he has the pedigree to prove it. "I studied jazz saxophone at Loyola. I played for years in Trombone Shorty's band. Recently I played with Ivan Neville in Florida. So jazz, funk -- that's a big part of my background. But pop music is where my influences are."
Listening to Happy Jack Frequency proves that. Martin's songs are, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, something totally, but not quite entirely, unlike most New Orleans music. The driving rhythm eschews the loping, wandering sounds of the second line beat. The guitars are by turns sharp and staccato or chimey and chorused. The song structures are tight, more Beatlesque than rambling funky.
"I had a chance to cultivate my songwriting," Martin said. "I was in Trombone Shorty's band for a long time, so I'd be sitting in the back of a tour bus in the middle of nowhere Nevada writing music. I eventually decided to get into the studio and record all of this."
"This" is an eponymous demo EP that Martin and percussionist Joey Peebles recorded at the Music Shed in New Orleans last year. Although Martin plays all of the melody instruments and sings, the demo was a catalyst that helped form a band. Martin has pulled together musicians from his high school and college days to flesh out Happy Jack Frequency's live lineup.
Make no mistake, though. This is James Martin's sound. Whether it is the rumbling "Low Rider" bass runs of Piece of Mind" or the George Harrison guitar homages in "Monday Morning," the pieces and parts are pulled from his background and experiences.
"I pulled 'Piece of Mind' together when we were out west and I heard a lot of Mexican influences. I guess that;s where that feel came from," he explained. "As for 'Monday Morning,' everyone was doing a Katrina song back then, but I didn't want to do that. I just picked up a pen and this is what came out. It's sort of a Katrina song, but it is also mixed with the longing for a lost relationship."
And, even if the music isn't obliquely New Orleans on the surface, there are subtle touches most locals will catch. One of those is the band's song "Center of the Universe."
"I'm a big Chris Rose fan, and he wrote an article called 'The Center of the Universe' where he tries to explain to someone not from here what it means to be from New Orleans," Martin said. "He said it's like dancing at the center of the universe and there is nothing else."
No matter what Happy Jack Frequency's niche may be, its energy and sound are catching on. Martin said the band did their first Baton Rouge show recently to excellent response and have been growing the band's fan base with each performance.
"We've been blessed with getting a lot of attention in a short period of time," Martin said. "WWOZ will be broadcasting our Wednesday at the Square show live. We want to take this and catapult it into other successes."
As for the group's future, it is still unwritten, but will be recorded soon.
"I have so much music inside right now," Martin said. "There's so much music that I am hungry. I need to get back on stage. I need to get back to the rehearsal spot with the band and see if that all comes together in another demo or a CD."
Hopefully today's performance at WATS will help sate Martin's need to perform and the audience's love of good music in one fell swoop. - NewOrleans.com

"ABC Review"

It's 10:30 in the evening on an excessively humid New Orleans summer night when Happy Jack Frequency (HJF) takes the stage at The Blue Nile on Frenchmen. As front man James Martin kicks off the band's set, the crowd remains sparse, concentrated around the bar and a few tables along the back wall. However, that is all about to change. While it takes the band a few minutes to hit their groove, the crowd's attention is quickly baited by Martin's stage presence and guitarist Matt Clark's listen-up-now solos, and they all begin to move.

Living up to their pop/rock/indie label, the sound takes me back to the 18 and under venues of my high school years where amped up guitars lamented the pain of frustrated young love and singers spouted innuendo-laden lyrics in pleasant voices void of serious range. But make no mistake, there is definitely a maturity to HJF's music that the bands of my youth lacked. An older, more complex quality that rings similar to The Killers or early Weezer hits depending on the song. It's this distinct combo that grabs my attention and that of other listeners. A blend so recognizable yet new that even the Belgian woman in the long white dress abandons her spot in the corner to dance in front of the stage. By the time the band starts into their three-part jam session complete with totally reupholstered covers of Dylan's "The House of the Rising Sun," Timberlake's "What Goes Around Comes Back Around," and Kravitz's "Fly Away" even the most hesitant on-lookers have been converted into fans.

To be sure, HJF still has some homework to do. Primarily, members must concentrate on melding their individual talents together to create a singular personality for the band. While the show was good, the band lacked an element of unity, of four skilled musicians producing a shared sound, that prevented them from winning the crowd right from the start. That said, for a young band that just released their first album, HJF shows impressive talent and potential. If their recent performance is indicative of anything, fans can expect to see good things from them in the future.

-Sara Sands
ABC26, Staff writer
- ABC 26


Happy Jack Frequency - EP



Happy Jack Frequency is the solo project of New Orleans musician James Martin. Still in his early 20’s, James has earned his stripes by performing on three different continents and forty-two of the fifty United States of America. In addition to his experience, James also has had the advantage of working alongside greats such as Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and Lenny Kravitz for example. His last gig included tours and studio work as a founding member of the New Orleans favorite, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave.

It was during this time that James honed himself as a performer and a songwriter. He made it his challenge to captivate the crowd when he took the stage to perform but to also captivate them with the words and music of his songs. “When I was a little kid, I would put on shows for my family. My grandmother would announce me and I would run down the hall into the living room to sing and dance to a record” Nothing much has changed in the past 20 years or so and James always knew that he would be on stage one day singing his own songs to large crowds. This is something James considers a true blessing.

A studious performer, James has evolved into a charismatic front man; a skill that rivals only his crafty songwriting. “On the current release which I made at Music Shed Studios with Grammy Award winning Chris Finney, many of the songs were written between the years of 2005 up till the beginning of 2009. And so much of what I was going through during those times, Hurricane Katrina, love, pain, heartbreak, fighting back through marathon running and marathon music making… all these concepts find their ways into the lyrics and context.”

Interestingly enough, James always asks for outside opinions for the full demos of the songs he’s currently writing as part of his creative process. By the end of 2008, James had amassed about 3 albums worth of material which he decided to cut down to 1 album to record professionally in a top notch studio. Having already been through the recording process for the self made demos, James went into the studio and recorded all the various parts and instruments himself minus most of the percussion which was done by in the demand studio drummer Joey Peebles.

The result exceeded James’ expectations and so suddenly what was to be a songwriting demo became a full blown album. As James began shopping around his album looking for shows and opportunities the question would always arise “The band sounds amazing, what’s the name, and who else is playing?” Humbly James would reply, “Well, aside from some of the drum parts, it’s just me”. But all this was about to change. James hired his long time bassist friend Matthew Sexton to fill the bottom, guitarists Matt Clark and John Marcey to make the songs shine, and drummer Eric Heigle to help put that tap in your foot.

Now a full five piece band playing all of James’ original music, Happy Jack Frequency has been tearing up local New Orleans Venues such as Tipitinas, One Eyed Jacks, Howlin’ Wolf, and the Blue Nile. They were recently one of the 18 artists chosen for the Gulf Aid Benefit which headlined Lenny Kravitz, John Legend, and Mos Def.

Happy Jack Frequency offers an intoxicating hit of energy both prevalent in their music and live shows. Armed with infectious melodies and feel good grooves, Happy Jack Frequency delivers a can't miss sound.