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Memphis, Tennessee, United States | SELF

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Avant-garde


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Lightajo began in winter, 2005.

It disbanded in summer, 2005.


"A girl," said drummer Michael Shelton, 21.

He and lead singer/guitarist Zack Baker, 20, were involved with the same person.

"He started dating her the same time I was," Shelton said. "But I was out of town."

Jake Fly, 21, the bass player, said he helped get the band back together.

"I had gone to Europe for the summer to study and they were broken up," he said. "I was telling them the whole time this wasn't happening. We're gonna stay a band. I come back to town and just kept working on it and, eventually, we started playing again."

"I think it was Zack who called me or we were hanging out somewhere, and he said we should try playing again," Shelton said.

"And Michael is just an amazing person and decided he will still play drums in my band," Baker said.

They even used Shelton's name in the band title instead of Lightajo to play a Memphis Idol show at the University of Memphis. They called themselves the "Michael Shelton Expression Face."

"I make really far-out-there facial expressions when I play drums," Shelton explained.

The band enlisted guitarist Daniel Brown, 21, and the group played "Jeff Justice," a Lightajo original. "It's the caricature of the American judiciary system," said Baker, who wrote the lyrics.

"It's like your typical good-ol'-boy judge that can't see anything except his own way of thinking," Shelton said.

The contest judges as well as the band members weren't happy with their performance.

"Al Kapone didn't like it," Shelton said. "He was one of the judges."

"We had to look at each other for our changes," Baker said. "We had complex musical structures."

"I stayed and saw the winner," Fly said. 'I think they were more hard-core emoey, whiny music. I think we weren't whiny enough or a rap act."

"We were so bummed out about it that we thought the solution would be to get a really awesome piano player," Fly said. "We said, 'We need more sound.' "

They hired Jason Miller, 22, as their keyboard player.

"We're a lot better and we're definitely more technical," Shelton said. "And I think we play better, too. Like the old Lightajo used to be kind of an industrial-sounding music and now it's more melodic."

Baker wrote the lyrics to "Chaosbot 9000," a song they can use for their Halloween show slated for Sunday on the patio at Neil's.

"If you were to invent some robot who would be perfectly suited for chaos, you'd call it Chaosbot," Baker said. "My daughter is Chaosbot 9000. Madalena Grace Baker. She's 11 months old."

If it rains Sunday night, Lightajo's gig at Neil's is canceled. They are also scheduled to play Nov. 2 inside the Full Moon Club.

To hear music by this week's performer and view more pictures, go to and click on music.

Listen Up spotlights area performers. Michael Donahue can be reached at 529-2797.

- Commercial Appeal, Memphis


All Lightajo music to date is available for free download or stream on the archive.



Phrases most commonly associated with a Lightajo show are "face-melting", "mind-bending", or "epic".

Lightajo is Jam/Fusion from Memphis, TN. Since the band's inception in 2007, the focus has been to provide audiences with a unique and genre-shifting musical experience. Armed with a jazz-virtuoso pianist, funkmaster bassist, intergalactic drummer, and two space-sound/ska/shred guitarists, Lightajo guarantees an unprecedented blend of reggae, funk, pop, jazz, & metal.

Throughout their short existence, Lightajo has shared the stage with nationally acclaimed musicians like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Futureman, and MOFRO. Playing in and around Memphis, the band has quickly developed a loyal following of music aficionados and dancing gypsies, and is breaking onto the festival circuit with an appearance at Wakarusa Music Festival.

The intense psychedelic effects of Lightajo music begin to reach an increasingly larger audience. Carefully crafted songs laced with progressive improvisation are mixed with the occasional off-the-wall cover, subject matter ranging from Sublime to Toto, Rage Against the Machine to Ween.