Milkbread
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Milkbread

Providence, Rhode Island, United States

Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Band Hip Hop Funk

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"Large And In Charge"

Last summer, after placing third at the annual Molly Finn Battle of the Bands, Milkbread was invited to play at Newport Blues Cafe. They were told that they would need to play for three solid hours and were asked if they were up to it, material wise.

The seven members of the jazz-rap-rock fusion group looked at each other and muttered to themselves, "We only have 45 minutes of music..." before promptly answering a resounding "Yes."

They proceeded to improvise headlong through two 75-minute sets, inventing new covers of Johnny Cash and the Beatles whilst peppering the night with their own work.

The wide ranging, free floating sound of and sentiment that is Milkbread defined itself as it moved through the night, helped along by truly talented musicianship and music composition.

It helps that everyone in the band either majored or minored in music while at the University of Rhode Island, where the group met and coalesced into the current setup in the beginning of 2010. Two saxophones, a trumpet, drums, keyboards, bass, guitar and multiple vocalists produce a big sound and bigger stage presence that make Milkbread's concerts uniquely exhilarating.

The band define their mission on their website: "Bringing emotionally moving, theoretically complex, and thought provoking music to the masses." It's easy to get very deep, very quickly when the Milkbread boys start talking about their music and performances.

"When music is connecting people, nothing else matters," explained drummer Dylan Sevey. "It's just such a universal thing. ... You can forget for 15 minutes the difference between you and the guy next to you."

Lead vocalist and saxophonist Ben Shaw, who fills the role of frontman with his rhythm-heavy lyrics and rhymes, maintains that, "Music makes equals of us all. We provide a means for escape, a means to better your predicament. ... We're not just on stage performing at you; we are all here together, experiencing the moment."

But at their shows, the energy is more freewheeling and helter-skelter laughter than the background philosophy suggests. The band has been known to direct improvised disco battles and invent covers on the spot - anything from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Notorious BIG. The atmosphere is more block party than anything else.

"It's cool being in a band where the influences range from Led Zeppelin to..." Sevey began.

"... Beethoven," Shaw finished with a broad smile.

And it is precisely this wide-ranging appeal that brought them first place at this year's Battle of the Bands, held Sept. 17 in Newport's Ballard Park. This year marked the fifth anniversary of the event, held in memory of Molly Finn, the 19-year-old Newporter who dreamed of hosting music events in Ballard Park before she was lost at sea during a 2006 North Atlantic storm.

As Battle victors, the band wins a headline concert spot at Ballard Park as well as six free hours of professional recording at Summing Point Recording in Newport.

The mass-appeal sound comes natural to Milkbread, who, by their own admittance, were not always the most popular group of dudes. "No one from Milkbread is cool in the accepted sense of the term," Sevey said, grinning.

Their crowd-rousing set ender "Kiff," which also closes out their five-song self-titled EP, is one of the band's favorite to play. "It's about disenfranchised youth that are trying to be something they're not. It's a song that comes from places we've come from," Shaw observed.

"When you try something artistic, based on emotion, it can be difficult to deal with. ... The song is about finding your identity," he continued. The word "Kiff" means "cool" in Africaans, and Milkbread try to make it clear that they think you're cool no matter who you are. The song ends with a chant that builds until at most shows, everyone in the room is bellowing out the lyrics. A fraternity of sound with Milkbread in the middle.

"Love yourselves and love each other - that's what - Newport Mercury


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Milkbread formed in early 2010 with one main focus: to create good music with a message. They take the best elements of hip-hop, R&B, and other contemporary styles and combine them with the principles of jazz to create the best music and groove possible. Being all current or former students of music at the collegiate level, every member has an unfathomable dedication to the music that they craft together under the Milkbread name. They seamlessly shift from fast moving, soulful jazz/hip-hop, to hard hitting, empowering, arena-esque rock, to extended funk jams, and everything in between.

By the end of a Milkbread set, no audience member is left unsatisfied, or wondering why they came. In addition to the packed dance floor, a fun and exhilarating staple of every show, the sheer power of the music itself is overwhelming. It is energetic, passionate, and ultimately, for all involved in the crowd, unifying. Their shows have been compared to everything from intimate club-style sessions to crazed block parties. Armed with horns, guitars, drums, keyboards, and varying vocal styles, the members of Milkbread are focused on moving music forward and creating something that is both thought provoking and emotionally moving. This is a new, exciting, and unique group, primed and ready. This is Milkbread.

Band Members