The Watts Riot
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The Watts Riot

Band Rock Funk


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The best kept secret in music


Stylistically, Jadd is in the class of Robert Plant and Chris Cornell - plenty of blues, soul and swagger in his voice, with a bit of the grit Rod Stewart and Kory Clark are famous for...the funky bass break is a riff grimy enough for me to write about it, and made me wash my hands the next time I put it in the CD tray. I expected to see used condoms and cigarette butts dropping out my speakers. - Legends Magazine

...positively Herculean in scope and stature...the gargantuan riffs sound positively seismic, and the bass rumbles like a big truck stuck in neutral... Skull-crushingly heavy and unique - what more could you want?

KKKK - Kerang

as soulful as it is crushing...hook-laden heaviness...the infectious voice of co-founder Jadd rides smoothly atop the monolithic sonic wave -

Parts paen to the SST heroes of yore, free improvisation, simple melody, complexity, dynamism and space,
The bass playing of Richard Sims has been reaching people on the fringes of the musical underground for nearly two decades.
Most recently with Albuquerque punk/math heroes "The Friendly" Overcoat/Touch and Go artists "Boas" & Asian A Go Go Instrumentalists "Red Chamber"

...from the bitter winter, his newest release, not only finds
Sims in a new location(Chicago)but also in a far less frenetic and aggressive frame of mind.

Sublimely accompanied by Jacob Smith on keyboards, Graeme Gibson handling both production and percussive chores and
featuring an appearance by Doug McCombs of Tortoise
...from the bitter winter is 62 minutes and 10 seconds of
transcendent soul music, guided by Sims' lush, introspective
and profoundly moving bass playing.

2007 will bring with it, the release of "Delicious, Sweet Mulberries"
a 3 song live EP recorded on tour at the Garfield Artworks in Pittsburgh.

As well as the studio release "Garlands For The Conqueror"
- CD Baby


Currently in pre-production of an all-bass free jazz/rock opera rendition of Tenacious D's Pick of Destiny.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Watts Riot is a reaction. It is a release. It is a confrontation to staid, oppressive notions about music, jazz in particular.

The Watts Riot is the brainchild of bassist/composer/arranger John Bess. It is founded on the philosophy that music theory, like literary theory, is a means of explaining and analyzing decisions made by musicians (or authors). Theory is NOT a set of rules governing good/bad or right/wrong. There is no wrong way to make art.

Therefore, the members of The Watts Riot seek to create art that refuses to be confined by genre classifications. At best they are individual musicians who choose to come together around loose harmonic ideas, a fucked up arrangement of a classic tune, some original compositions by Bess, some brought in by others, some invented on the spot, and to push and pull these ideas to the brink of their harmonic and rhythmic boundaries, while prizing three things above all: Melody, Groove, Improvisation.

The formation of The Watts Riot will be what it will be from one engagement to the next. It may be a duo one night, a septet another. It could be eleven bassists. There are no rules.

In it's current configuration, The Watts Riot is a bass duo consisting of John Bess and Richard Sims.

Bess is known for his atmospheric yet funky bass work with critically-acclaimed stoner/doom outfit Spiritu.

Sims is known for his complex, dynamic, free improvisation solo work, as well as his supporting with with Boas and Red Chamber