Sweet Japonic
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Sweet Japonic!

Sweet Japonic took home Best Local Rock Album of the Year (2005) for their album Through the Eyes of Lucie Blue at last night's WYCE 88.1 Jammie Awards; which celebrates both local and national acts played on the community radio station. 
 
The boys of Sweet Japonic, including Ross (who drove in from Lansing for the special event) played three songs in the showcase; Quarter to Eight, Change My Ways and Fill me up.  Many fans, of all ages, were up on the dance floor during the performance.   When the time came to present the award, the crowd cheered boisterously as Matt, Ross, Ryan and Luke walked up to receive their award; a framed certificate.
 
"We didn't think we would win, there were a lot of great local bands nominated in our category, like Happy Hour, whose album is incredible.   This is very exciting for all of us!" beamed Ryan.
 
Rebekah Rhys, a fellow artist, sums it up the best, "You knew Lucie Blue would win.   It must be a good album if it came out in April and never leaves the CD player in your car."  A statement all Sweet Japonic fans can relate.  
 
The group has been tight-lipped regarding their next steps as musicians, but one thing is certain—the second largest city in the state of Michigan has recognized their gift of making quality music, and the future looks bright.   At least one song from last night's performance should be immortalized forever on the WYCE compilation CD that captures the event.  The CD will be available later this year.
 
Congratulations Sweet Japonic!!

Article by Tamaryn Tobian - Freelance


Revue Magazine:

Sweet Japonic, Two O’clock Sirens In the 2nd CD release by Sweet Japonic, lead vocalist and guitarist Luke Wilson pulls off yet another brilliantly mastered arrangement. The uplifting vocals and lyrics are reminiscent of tunes one might expect to find on the soundtrack documenting the life of a hobo in love. Full of soft croons and melodic undertones, they are able to bring up any mood on a dreary day. The second track, You’re a Fool Now, puts the mind on cruise control as the rest of the tracks pick up pace a bit. Sitting on the dock of a bay comes to mind when listening to their 6th track. Their live performances always deliver so if you haven’t seen them perform yet, you can spot them at... (Similar tastes: Train, Daniel Powter)

Grand Rapids Press:

The music: One of Grand Rapids' most talented bands ever maintains its spotless reputation with eight tracks of smart, often rootsy rock, bolstered by tight musicianship and expressive, harmony-rich vocals. The band hosts a CD-release party at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Billy's Lounge, 1437 Wealthy St. SE. Admission to the 21-and-older show is $5.

Bag of Songs Blog:

The third release from Sweet Japonic is entitled Two O'Clock Sirens. Eight radio friendly songs that are a smooth mix of rock,folk and bluesy soul. The musicianship and production is top notch and it could easily hold its own with the artists it most sounds like. Think Train, Counting Crows, or Los Lonely Boys and you'll have an idea of where they're coming from. Their prior disc Through the Eyes of Lucie Blue even snagged them a 2005 Jammie Award for best local rock album in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area - various


They blend a comfortable mix of piano and guitars to lull the listener into a nostalgic feeling that reminds listeners much of earlier Jimmy Buffett and Jackson Brown.
- Advanced Newspapers


GRAND RAPIDS -- As a rule, the local music scene is an evolving landscape.

Lineups shift. Venues come and go. Bands can disappear, seemingly overnight. So it's no small feat that local band Sweet Japonic is going strong after more than five years.

Not surprisingly, the band has gone through many changes in that time, stylistically and organizationally. Lead singer and backing guitarist Lucas Wilson said the band -- formed by Wilson and bassist Ryan Braman -- has come full-circle, recently returning to its folk/alt-country roots.

Gifted guitarist Matt Young, who also plays mandolin, pedal steel and backing vocals, has played with the band for about three years. Drummer and backing vocalist Roy Wallace and keyboardist Davy Tyson are relatively recent additions, and both have helped to shape a new sound.

"We were known as a pop-rocky band. We're moving more toward folk country," Wilson said during a recent interview in a local coffee shop. "We've added a keyboard, so there's more piano-based songs. We've also added the steel guitar. We're focusing more on strong songwriting."

If Sweet Japonic's latest recording, "Two O'Clock Sirens," is any indication, the band successfully has crossed from pop-rock into a rootsy, cross-genre amalgam reminiscent of Ryan Adams and early Wilco.

The eight-song disc will be unveiled Saturday night in a CD release party at Billy's Lounge in Eastown. Wilson said the intent of the disc -- recorded and mixed at Audio Bay Studios in Rockford -- was to introduce fans to the band's "new" sound.

"Some of it, like (the song) 'When Morning Dies,' is older stuff. But when Davy plays organ on it, it sounds better than it ever did before," Wilson said.

The disc also includes a few new tracks, which also work to showcase the newest members' attributes. Though Wilson isn't overly concerned about fans' reactions to the new direction -- the band is confident in its songwriting -- he's curious as to how longtime fans will embrace the latest direction.

"It's not too drastic of a change, but it does lean to rootsy, folky. It's not too poppy," Wilson said.

There likely is very little to worry about. Sweet Japonic has a loyal following, and its individual members and the band have received plenty of accolades. The group even nabbed the 2005 Jammie Award -- sponsored by community radio station WYCE-FM (88.1) -- for Best Rock album for an earlier release, "Through the Eyes of Lucis Blue."

"We were pretty excited," Wilson said. "It's kind of fun to be recognized locally."

Wilson believes Sweet Japonic has hit its stride with this latest offering.

"The cool thing is, we have five completely opposite people, as far as music goes. You take that and throw it into a pot ... you can do everything," Wilson said. "With the new members ... there's a stage presence that we didn't have before. There's a confidence we didn't have." - Grand Rapids Press-weekend


GRAND RAPIDS -- Grand Rapids' Sweet Japonic started its fun, dance-y and reggae-tinged college rock band nine years ago.
But the band, now a six-piece group honing its own brand of Midwest sound, only counts the last two.

"We kind of grew up a little bit, I think," frontman and guitarist Lucas Wilson said. "We're maturing songwriting-wise and as musicians."

Thanks to a performance last year at the inaugural Rothbury music festival, a new lineup and sound, band members have become serious about reaching new heights.

Rothbury 2008 was "when this band jumped, so to speak, into the ocean," said Wilson, whose fellow members include drummer Roy Wallace, bassist Gabe Dutton, lead guitarist Matt Young, guitarist Sam Parks and keyboardist Davy Tyson. "For a long time, we were just kind of a local band and didn't jump into the pool. We weren't necessarily as serious about it."

Now, the group is harnessing a new sound -- soul, folk, country, blues, rock -- and new "straightforward, storytelling" lyrics. A third album with 12 tracks that channel their new throwback, Americana feel will be released Saturday at The Intersection. "Where My Devils Go" was produced locally at River City Studios by Wallace.

"With this new album, we are a band. We quit jobs," Wilson said. "We're putting every ounce of everything we have into doing music."

Dutton said he turned down a solid job offer in February at a local church that would have "paid all the bills and made ends meet."

"I really want to do the band," Dutton said. "It's a serious commitment to say we're going to make this happen."

The group recently ended a three-week tour on the East Coast -- in a new RV that, on a fun side note, has driven the entire length of New York City's Fifth Avenue after a friendly New Yorker yelled "You can't take that on the FDR!"

Japonic plans to head east again at the end of the year or early next year and pursue a West Coast tour next summer.

"We're going to tour on this album a lot," Wilson said. "We believe very strongly in what we're doing. Over the years, we've become a really good band. It's exciting to see the band grow, and it's exciting to see the reactions."

"I think next year's the one," Dutton said. "2010, it all comes together."

- Grand Rapids Press (Weekend Section)


•September 27, 2009-"Where My Devils Go"
GR's Sweet Japonic keeps impressing with its ability and willingness to grow and morph into something unlike anything else. At once bluesy, alt-country, folksy and jazzy, SJ reflects the personalities and talents of its six members, from singer/frontman Lucas Wilson to lead guitarist Matt Young. The new CD is a tasteful foray into rock, whether it's the soulful sheen of "There's An Eel in This Town" or the roots-rock twang of "Over and Over."

"Through the Eyes of Lucie Blue":

•Sept,2005-Sweet Japonic plays sweetly. The Grand Rapids quartet's debut full-length album sounds like a summer balm. And while the comparison to Dave Matthews comes a little too quickly to the tongue, the music is too nice to write off just because of that. Japonic has a wandering sound that flips from rock to folk to funk and doesn't miss a beat. It's nice to see a long-awaited release live up to live performances and all the hype.

•March 27, 2005- "This much anticipated release from Grand Rapids' Sweet Japonic is everything promised and more: Infectious blues-,funk-, folk-, roots- and island-flavored rock that's impossible to ignore. A real gem."

•March 19, 2005- “This CD keeps me hooked from the first track to the last. Solid musicianship paired with strong songwriting show that these guys are serious about their music...I can’t bring myself to take it out of my cd player.” - Grand Rapids Press, Lake FX Radio, Recoil Magazine


•Dec 15, 2003- "The four-piece Sweet Japonic has just enhanced the flavor of the Grand Rapids music scene with their new release, Front Porch.

Seven tracks of endlessly creative music prove the band's fluency in several genres, and those genres are so diverse that each song is its own entity. Whatever style they play, the musicianship stands out; every aspect of the band is intensely talented.

No matter what your taste in music is, this act's overwhelming grooviness will win you over." - Recoil Magazine


How does it feel to be driving down the road and all of a sudden you hear your song on the radio? “It’s cool! At first I called everybody I knew; now I just smile inside. It’s a great feeling,” says Ryan Braman of Sweet Japonic.

Sweet Japonic got its start five years ago, picking the name on a whim. “One of the guys saw a shampoo commercial with the ingredient Japonica. We wanted a two-word band name. We thought japonica was a "sweet" (as in cool) word. We dropped the "a" and made the name Sweet Japonic.” And thus the mixed-genre band from Grand Rapids, Michigan was born. Though the lineup has changed over the last five years (Lucas and Ryan being the only original members left), their music is still as diverse and memorable as ever.

Lucas Wilson (lead singer/guitar) and Ryan Braman (bass) founded Sweet Japonic after Lucas said one day “I can sing, let’s start a band.” New additions include Matt Young (lead guitar, Mandolin, pedal steel, and backing vocals) who is a self-taught prodigy; not only does he perform with Sweet Japonic, he also teaches music at Jimmy Dillon’s Blue Star Music Camp, and has collaborated with such great musicians as Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers). Roy Wallace (drums, backing vocals) was previously in the band Mission Orange and has a double major in violin and percussion performance. He is also a degreed, free-lance recording engineer. And last, but certainly not least, Davy Tyson (keyboards) who plays full time at piano bars when he’s not with Sweet Japonic. Tyson has a major in piano performance and a minor in music composition. “We’re in phase four or five now with line-up changes, but everything’s been smooth and natural evolution for the better.”



So how do you describe Sweet Japonic’s unparalleled sound? One way is to roll together indie style, rock, blues, folk, funk, soul, and island-flavored rock. “We definitely create what we feel in collaboration with each other. Each person is very unique in their musical tastes, which we feel is a strength to create original music. Whatever style we play, it as a certain hook, grooviness and energy that is hard for me to pigeonhole,” says Braman.

After releasing two albums on their own, “Front Porch” (2003) and “Through the Eyes of Lucie Blue” (2005), and playing as many as six to eight shows a month over the last five years, Sweet Japonic has built an incredible fan base. “Things have been great, so I hope for continued progress and growth. We are looking for continued exposure to make this a full-time endeavor for all of us.”
- Northeast In-Tune


At 21, he's the "Killer Kid." Grand Rapids' Matt Young quickly has become a hot commodity in West Michigan. He handles lead guitar for rock's Sweet Japonic, which boasts one of the year's most impressive local CDs, then switches gears to deliver blistering blues riffs for James Reeser and his Hot Blues Quartet.

But last weekend in South Haven, he rubbed elbows with real rock royalty: Longtime Rolling Stones keyboard player Chuck Leavell, award-winning saxophonist "Sax" Gordon Beadle and veteran guitarist/mentor Jimmy Dillon. They tore into classics such as "Honky Tonk Women" with an exuberant sell-out crowd singing along.

"I was the rookie of that band. Everybody else had so much more experience," Young said of his brief stint with The Werewolves, an occasional assemblage of storied musicians who gathered forces to raise $5,000 at a fund-raising benefit for Dillon's Blue Star Music Camp. The Blue Star Theatre concert in front of about 200 people was followed the next night by a shorter show at South Haven's Harborfest for thousands of festival-goers.
"It was definitely like, 'Whoa. I'm in with a heavy crowd.' It was very humbling for me. It taught me so much how to let other people shine and how to work as a unit in a band. It was a good feeling."

Dillon had invited Young, who attended the summer camp for teens four years ago and now works as a teacher there, to "go swimming with the sharks" by joining the band, playing electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin and pedal steel guitar.
In addition to Leavell and Beadle, the 10-piece Werewolves featured such stellar players as harmonica whiz Peter "Madcat" Ruth and singer Bobby Haggard, producing one joyous jam of eclectic music. They delved deep into the rock catalog of the Stones and Allman Brothers and pounded out assorted blues, R&B and country tunes.

The Killer Kid (his nickname in Reeser's band) held his own, taking the spotlight for a lead riff and trading guitar licks with Dillon. And Dillon made sure folks knew who he was. "You're gonna hear about this man," he declared. "Four years ago ... he came in with a guitar and a heart full of passion for music."

That passion led Young, a graduate of City High School, to quit Grand Rapids Community College to pursue his musical dreams full time. It also made him a full-fledged Werewolf for one glorious June weekend, proving that talent, hard work and desire do have their payoffs. - The Grand Rapids Press


Any band that turns “Amazing Grace” into a dance song and then covers Tom Petty has a pretty good idea of what music is all about.

It took a few songs before Sweet Japonic got the crowd at Billy’s Lounge out of their seats on Thursday night, but once they did, no one went back until the band took a break. The band’s improvisations shined through the smoky atmosphere. Sweet Japonic kept the crowd clapping and dancing to the catchy rhythms with their drink of choice in hand. A wide range of ages, 21 and older of course, spanning from local college students to several people old enough to be their parents were among those in attendance.

Sweet Japonic’s rock-infused style of blues and folk music with hints of reggae and jazz appeals to people of all ages. The ability to blend those elements together makes this act one that has a sound for everyone. That talent comes in handy when playing at a place such as Billy’s, where the crowd is as diverse as the Eastown neighborhood in which it is located.

The band showcased their influences through some covers and had the crowd singing along to originals like “Somebody New,” an obvious crowd favorite. Other songs that flooded the dance floor were “My Caroline” and “She Was Doin’ Fine.”

After a brief intermission, the band was back with a new set for their adoring fans. It included covers of Billy Joel, Tom Petty and The Eagles that guitar player and lead vocalist Lucas Wilson described as “just good drinking music.” Sweet Japonic managed to liven up the covers by injecting their own style of grooves and color, making the songs sound new. It was nearly impossible to stay away from the stage or at the very least nod to the beats.

Sweet Japonic has perfected the recipe for feel-good music. The band members create songs that are undeniably catchy, but also demonstrate their talent. Their originality is a special characteristic that not all bands have. The heartfelt lyrics help listeners forget about whatever is on their mind and just enjoy their surroundings and life in general — qualities that a musician cannot learn in a class or from a book.

It simply comes out when artists create music they love and want to share it with whoever is willing to listen. Sweet Japonic made the audience feel at home despite being with strangers. They radiate the good vibes that rock, jazz, reggae, blues and folk music are supposed to have. - GVSU-Landthorn Campus News


Discography

"Where My Devils Go" 2009 (ASCAP) WYCE Jammie Award winner for best contemporary album of the year!!! Just Awarded 2/16/10

"Sweet Japonic Live" 2007 (ASCAP)
15 tracks of pure SJ live in their element.

"Two O'clock Sirens" 2006 (ASCAP)
*WYCE Jammie Award winning CD! (Best Rock Album)
*Featuring a track on Paste Mag/Coke.com/music podcasts, etc.
*3 tracks to be in an upcoming feature film in '08

"Through the Eyes of Lucie Blue" LP 2005 (ASCAP)
*WYCE Jammie Award winning CD! (Best Rock Album)
*100+ college, community & specialty radio stations + XM, Sirus digital networks.
*Featured Podcast tracks!

SXSW Comp CD_gigamerica 2004 (3000+ distro)

"Front Porch" EP 2003 (ASCAP)
*"the Mexican" in the movie "Crave" shown at the Tribeca Film Fest.

Photos

Bio

On the music scene for 7 years now, Grand Rapids, MI based Sweet Japonic, has written two Jammie Award-winning albums and has been touring club and college circuits throughout the Midwest & East Coast. Notably one of the areas hardest working independent bands, they are now reaching out on a grander scale with their latest release "Where My Devils Go."

Sweet Japonic is an incredible live band that appeals to fans of Dave Matthews Band, Train, John Mayer, Wilco, Sublime, Rolling Stones, Bob Marley and more. Recent accomplishments include performing at the inaugural Rothbury Music Festival with the likes of Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Widespread Panic, 311 and others. They also took the stage with Jonny Lang & Kansas this past summer at the Muskegon Summer Celebration. In 2007, they co-headlined the legendary Rock n' Reggae Festival in Shepard, MI where they won a fan competition to play again this year.

Last year they we’re honored to sign a licensing agreement with Coke and Paste Magazine as one of 40 International up-and-coming indie bands to be a part of Coke music’s for the love of music campaign.

Representing the MySpace generation, the groups’ members take intangible but common themes and offer deep realness with solid emotional connection. Each song explores a new corner of the soul. Their music is the soundtrack to today’s journey of rock, heart, blues and soul.

National and Regional acts we’ve shared the stage with:
•North Mississippi Allstars
•The Wailers
•Cold War Kids
•Wilco
•Jonny Lang & Kansas
•Brian VanderArk (of The Verve Pipe)
•Margot & The Nuclear So And So's
•Cornmeal
•Gaelic Storm
•The Iguanas
•Tommy Castro band
•Joe Bonamassa
•Guster
•BUMP
•One Under
•Smokestack
•Organissimo
•Funkilinium
•Kimberly Locke (Celebration on the Grand)
•Played with Chuck Leavell from Rolling Stones/Allman Brothers
+ more

Festivals performed at:
•Rothbury Music Festival (w/ Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, etc)
•Muskegon Summer Celebration (w/Jonny Lang & Kansas)
•Rock 'n Reggae Festival (Shepherd, MI)
•Fredrick Meijer Gardens Concert for 1,850 fans (GR, MI)
•Wuhnurth Festival (Muncie, IN)
•Skinkfest (Cinci, OH)
•Alefest (Columbus, OH & Chicago, IL)
•Tulipollousa (tulip time festival, Holland, MI)
•Around the Coyote Festival (Chicago, IL)
•Celebration on the Grand (GR, MI)
•Eastown Street Fair (GR, MI)
•Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts (GR, MI)
+ more

Colleges and Universities performed at:
•Central Michigan University
•Grand Valley State University
•Calvin College
•Aquinus College
•Grand Rapids Community College
•Henry Ford Community College
•Ivy Tech College
+ more

Managed by Little Duck Music

For Venue & Festival booking contact:
*Matt Paparella Cell: 231-670-0628 or Email: matt@sweetjaponicmusic.com

For all other inquiries contact:
*Ryan Braman Cell # 616-822-0142 or email: ryan@sweetjaponicmusic.com