Lucas Kellison
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Lucas Kellison

Band R&B Funk


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"Rise makes the Top 25 of 2007 at"

"This CD matches crystal clear production values with passionate songs. He reminds me of Stevie Wonder in his 70s prime, and when it comes to evaluating soul music, there is no higher praise than that." - -

"Rise makes UWIRE Top 10 of 2007"

Rise makes UWIRE Top 10 of 2007!

1. The Shins, "Wincing the Night Away" — The Shins completely delivered on their first heavily anticipated album since getting free hype in "Garden State."
2. Circa Survive, "On Letting Go" — I wasn't a big fan of Anthony Green's work in Saosin, but bought this album on impulse when it was on sale. It's $8 I'll never miss.
3. Of Montreal, "Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer" — The slice-of-life songs that previously characterized Of Montreal are gone on "Hissing Fauna," but in their place is a collection of songs about the pain of divorce and the difficulty of rebuilding. Despite it's high emotional content, the sound is true to Of Montreal, and it never sounds trite or sappy.
4. The White Stripes, "Icky Thump" — Jack White abandons the piano of "Get Behind Me Satan" and gets back behind the guitar, and it makes for a solid album.
5. Lucas Kellison, "Rise" — You would never know that the soulful voice on this powerful album came from a short guy from Nebraska.
6. Foo Fighters, "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace" — Yet another confirmation that Dave Grohl really can do it all. He could probably do an album of opera covers and make it sound cool.
7. Against Me!, "New Wave" — This album lived up to the magazine hype that preceded it with a front-half of powerful, socially aware power-pop tracks.
8. Klaxons, "Myths of the Near Future" — Half the time, I don't know what the heck Jamie Reynolds and James Righton are even singing about, but there's no way to sit still with "Myths" playing.
9. Modest Mouse, "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" — After the surprising success of "Good News For People Who Love Bad News" in 2004, this album had to be good. It was.
10. Bayside, "The Walking Wounded" — After the death of drummer John "Beatz" Holohan in 2005, Bayside could have folded. Instead, they stepped out of their standard emo comfort zone and made an album about loss that somehow manages to be optimi

***Quick side note. Lucas is 5'11.5". Whatever :) -

"Rise Number 1 Local Album of the Year in Journal Star!"

#1. - Lincoln Journal-Star

"Soul'd On Kellison"

"Last week was an excellent time to be out watching music, and it looks like it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. This past Thursday I caught a show up at Murphy's that featured Lucas Kellison and the Assembled Soul.

Kellison was new to me, and quite the surprise. While watching the group take the stage I thought I was in for an evening of jam band music, but what followed was a set of music from a tight blue-eyed soul group that had more in common with Maxwell than Joe Cocker. The band played smooth, and didn't try to go over the top with the funk.
That is not to say that they did not have many upbeat moments, because the band can also add in an element of rock, as was witnessed on phenomenal interpretation of the obscure Prince B-side "She's Always In My Hair." The musicianship was solid, but it's Kellison's vocals along with the harmonies provided by other members of the band that brings their sound home. Think Maxwell, D'Angelo, Thicke, Stevie and Jamiriquai – and that is actually pigeonholing them too much as classic funk, soul, rock and jazz influences are evident as well." - Omaha City Weekly

"The Producers"

T. J. Saddler cradles a rectangular metal MIDI Production Center in his lap. To his left, an Apple computer running Pro Tools sits on a desk with small, but powerful, speakers on each side. In the corner of the room is a stack of vinyl records. In front of Saddler is an electronic keyboard. An array of guitars — electric, acoustic and bass — lines the walls.

Saddler taps one of the pads on the MIDI, producing a kick drum sound. Quickly moving his fingers back and forth between the squares, he builds a beat. Then another pad plays a sample lifted from a Howard Jones album.

Reaching over to the desktop, he clicks the mouse and the beat he's been demonstrating becomes a song with the layered vocals of Lucas Kellison floating above the catchy R&B groove.
Distinctly urban and contemporary, the song doesn't sound like something you'd expect coming out of Lincoln.

But Kellison and Saddler, aka SadSon Productions, intend to make the music produced in their small Recorded Dreams studio compete with the best of what's being recorded in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other urban music centers.

"If we get to the point we want to get to, we'll be working with major labels," Saddler said. "The way music is today, producers are such a big part of it. They play a huge role for the artists — that's what we want to do."

Kellison, 23, and Saddler, 24, met a couple of years ago when Saddler asked Kellison to add a bass part to a song he was recording. The two hit it off and soon became a team, putting together their production company and small record label and turning a retail space near 27th and Randolph streets into a studio.

"One thing we noticed growing up in the Lincoln music scene is that we're lacking producers," Kellison said. "There's always been a studio or two, but nothing that could develop the sound. What we wanted to do is see if we could really produce an album. We started with my solo project."

That "project" has become "Rise," one of the most impressive discs to come out of Lincoln in the past two decades. Anchored by the work of Saddler, who uses the producer/performer name of Tummy, "Rise" combines R&B, jazz, gospel and hip-hop production into a mixture that falls easily into the broad category of soul, but is bound by no artificial distinctions.

With "Rise" as its calling card, SadSon Productions is looking for artists with whom to work. Some of them will be from Nebraska. Others will come from around the country.

Clicking through songs on the computer, Saddler plays a gorgeous track with vocals by a young female vocalist from Lincoln, then a propulsive beat that carries the voice of a Los Angeles singer/songwriter who quite likely will be recording with the duo.

A Stevie Wonder album from the '70s is prominently displayed above the couch where Kellison sits, pointing out the live guitar and punchy bass recorded onto the beats and tracks created by Saddler. That's an indication of Wonder's influence on Kellison's music.

Similarly, the SadSon duo has a producer they want to emulate: the great Quincy Jones, who has worked with artists from jazz to hip-hop and is most popularly known as the producer of Michael Jackson's best work, including "Thriller," the biggest selling album ever.

"He's the ultimate," Kellison said. "He could sit back and direct a group of people or he could lead people like Michael Jackson in dropping their talent or he can go around to any instrument and play it. That's what we want to offer."

Kellison, who started as a bassist, plays guitar in his band The Assembled Soul and also added keyboards and even cello to "Rise." And he has a list of talented local players who can add horns and almost any other instrument to the mix.

"I can just make the phone call and we get people who are willing to do it," he said. "We pay those people what they deserve to be paid. People want things for free, but that's not how it works here."

The requirement for payment is an indicator of the professionalism that Kellison and Saddler bring to their productions. No drugs, no spending more money on "big rims and jewelry" than on recording, and no job, no recording are among the standards they use in making records.

For those who just want to record and don't want SadSon's input, Saddler, who has an associate's degree in science of the recording arts from Full Sail, the prestigious Orlando, Fla., recording/engineering school, can do just that. And if a project needs session players, Kellison can likely handle most the instrumental requests himself or make a call.

But what the duo really wants to do is produce — that is, supply expertise, performance and even beats and tracks for aspiring artists.

"Getting people in the studio and helping people realize their dreams, that's what we want to do," Saddler said.

"Basically what a producer offers is their opinion," Kellison said. "Having someone involved who is a legitimate player and singer who has a legitimate opinion is wonderful. It opens up all the possibilities."

In the past two years, and more intensely of late, Kellison and Saddler say they've begun to develop a signature sound — the sonic combination that's prominent on "Rise." By design, it's not what exactly what you hear on the radio or see on MTV or BET. But it's in the same ballpark, giving the SadSon music a freshness along with a little grit.

"They're often trapped in a box," Saddler said. "We want to venture out."

"We want to dirty up Clear Channel," Kellison added, referring to the giant radio chain.

That said, they say that they're not looking for malleable singers who will merely do as they are told. They're looking for serious artists with something positive to contribute.

"We want to put our sound on other people's creativity," said Saddler. That creativity could come from a country artist or a rock band. But, initially, SadSon's work will be in hip-hop, R&B and soul.

While that isn't necessarily a sound associated with Nebraska, the duo points to Saddle Creek Records as an example of how Nebraskans can make their music and have it reach around the country and around the world.

"Around here, we're so cautious, we're afraid to create our own sound," Saddler said. "They (Saddle Creek) finally did that and Bright Eyes took off. They've created a sound that's their own and we really respect that."

"We feel like they're someone to watch, that we can look to," Kellison said. "Even though their music is so much different than what we do, the idea is the same."

For now, Saddler and Kellison are working hard at music, spending time in the studio working on various recordings and performing live. They're both members of No Better Cause, the local a cappella group that is performing this weekend at the South Dakota State Fair.

They aren't making tons of money now. But they're on track with their plan to make SadSon a force and put Lincoln on the urban contemporary map.

"It's beautiful," Saddler said. "I've had a wonderful time not going to a 9 to 5 job. It's really challenging managing your money. But as far as creativity, setting your mind free, it's perfect. But it's hard work."

"We're right where we want to be now," Kellison said. "'Rise' shows what we're capable of. Now we need to find some artists and keep working. We want to be working with a major label. And we will." - The Lincoln Journal-Star Ground Zero

"Kellison, Saddler Produce Big Sound"

Lucas Kellison and T.J. Saddler wanted to show that a little studio in a little city (Lincoln) could produce a big sound. Their SadSon Productions did just that on Kellison's solo album, Rise. The album's ample production and high sound quality is evident through its soulful tracks heavy on drums and sample beats. If you miss this CD release, catch the Assembled Soul (Kellison's solo project band) at Omaha's Goofy Foot Lodge every Thursday through Dec. 27.
— Neil Sandhoefner - The Reader (Omaha)

"Lucas Kellison: Rise"

Lucas Kellison knows how to create immediately appealing dance music. Rise is filled with many aural delights, which will oftentimes remind you of the great days of soul music's past.

The track that kicked me in the butt and made me instinctively turn up the volume is titled "She Wants To (MOVE)." It's got a rolling clavinet part that borrows (but does not steal) the best parts of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground." One called "Cain's Blood" is also a standout. With it, Kellison uses the Biblical story of Cain and Abel to help describe a duel nature where half of his thoughts are focused on heaven, while the other half look for trouble. Its lyric also mentions his church-going mom and bar-hopping dad. He's inherited both the best and the worst characteristics from his parents.

In addition to these spiritual thoughts, Kellison is equally concerned with social issues. "LoveFearPayDayHightDesire" yearns for a better day of human unity, whereas the CD's title track is aimed clearly at the Katrina disaster. And just as the waters rose to flood out and strand that hurricane's victims, the people of that region will rise again. "Halliburton," a company that is profiting big time from the war in Iraq, opens with a spoken word sample from a Martin Luther King speech. This is particularly effective because it makes you wonder what Dr. King would have thought about our military fiasco over there. Chances are he would have led protests against it. This track also includes a George W. Bush drop-in, and we unfortunately know how he feels about this foreign policy disaster. It was his bad idea in the first place.

In addition to doing most the singing, Kellison plays bass, guitar, organ, synths, and cello. Kellison's only fault is that he doesn't have a truly distinctive singing voice. The aforementioned Stevie Wonder would have turned these tracks into master blasters for sure.

Tummy is Kellison's primary musical collaborator. He helps with drums, samples, and other bits and pieces. He also provides vocals to "Melody." Kellison spices his soul-funk with plenty of extra instrumental elements. The gently swaying "I Smile" adds Nicolas Semrad's jazzy piano, Andy Stavas plays some sax, and Brian Morrow also provides flute and sax in various places.

I realize I've mentioned Stevie Wonder's name a bunch of times in this review, but Wonder has always been that voice crying in the wilderness. But Wonder is not on the charts like he was back in the 70s, and we could really use his proactive nature right now. The world needs his voice of reason, especially in the face of horrors like Katrina and the Iraq war. If there's any justice, Lucas Kellison will rise to the occasion to become Wonder's new, necessary successor. -


Rise (SadSon Royal; 2007)
My Town (demo; 2005)



The label debut of Lucas Kellison has been long overdue. For those who know him, Kellison has been a sort of phantom--floating throughout the music of the Midwest, lending his talents to various musical outfits as a bass player, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist producer. Having shared the stage (in some form) with such a diverse range of acts, including Keyshia Cole, Karl Denson, Magic Slim, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Nikka Costa, The Beatnuts, Bela Fleck, The Persuasions, Rilo Kiley, and countless others, Kellison has had more than enough on his plate to understand a vast array of musical concepts and creativity.

So what does such a speckled musical background mean in the culmination of these musical experiences? What would a solo effort from such an artist sound like? Enter "Rise"--Kellison's remarkable debut, filled to the brim with experience. The sound is fresh, modern and relevant, with a definite appreciation for its precursors. A young Kellison, 23, has managed to find a comfortable position, fittingly, in the middle of everything from his self-contained studio in Lincoln, Nebraska.