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Music Notes

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.

Monthly Archives: May 2010

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I walked in to meet the Jenna Paone band. Despite the raw, rainy weather, I preceded into a classic, cleanly decorated suburban home, with the only sign of music being the equipment peaking out from the family room a few feet away. Paone, however, was easy to spot. Being the front- woman of an almost all- male band, it was easy to expect a ball-busting bitch who constantly had to reiterate her standing among three incredibly talented men. However, I was greeted by a petite, expertly dressed brunette whose smile was infectious and energy, undeniable. “This isn’t weird,” Paone breathed as she rushed around the kitchen to pour everyone drinks. “I really am this crazy!” “It’s true,” said guitarist John Baptista as he made his way to the rehearsal space. “Welcome to the circus.”

The piano-based, rock/jazz group formed around a year and half ago, after Paone, who was taking recording lessons from now drummer Jon Francis, stated the blatant need for a band. “Pro-tools were not my thing,” said Paone. “I basically forced Jon to record a demo for me, and then was like ‘I need a band!’ and then he was like ‘Here’s a band!’” “It’s true,” Francis reiterated in a joking demeanor. “I am the catalyst of this group!”

Francis then reached out to long time friend and guitarist Baptista. Being a current student at Berklee, Baptista’s natural-born talent was imminent as the group corralled themselves back into one of their eight-hour practice days. Baptista’s passion while playing was infectious. While Paone would pause during songs to explain their origin “Storyteller’s” style, Baptista would be off fiddling with his equipment or spontaneously forming a new riff. “John also has musical ADD,” said Paone. “We all have our time frames; John’s is about 45 seconds. He’s usually playing with the guitar, or messing with my piano, or even in the bathroom!” The statement was greeted by laughter from everyone, including bassist Bill Ferri. “[He] plays a mean bathroom,” Ferri added.

Rounding out the group was Ferri, whose snarky one-liners throughout the day gave way to an easy-going and entertaining group dynamic. Ferri, like Francis, also teaches, and has been playing bass since the tender age of 13. “I couldn’t go to sleep if I hadn’t practiced that day,” said Ferri. “I would wake up, play for an hour, then go to sleep. I was obsessed.”

Sitting through only a small part of their practice time, felt almost as if a privilege. Paone’s voice and piano was expertly intertwined with Baptista’s rock-themed riffs and Ferri’s and Francis’s unexpected bluesy twists. I sat, struck by how seemingly effortless their music came, as they worked their way through songs ranging from the seductive “Smoke” to the wondrously fun “Honest Woman,” where Paone so innocently stated, “I feel like we need a disco ball for this song.”

If there’s one common thread that holds to be an underlying trait among all the members (besides the sarcastic comedy) it would be summed up in one phrase: being smart, in every sense of the word. “We’re all trained,” explained Paone, who began the piano at age four. “We’ve all been doing this for a very long time; that’s something that’s cool. We all have certain expertise in different areas of music.” “We have our different backgrounds,” added Baptista. “So the different melodies [in our music] really shine through.”

While their musical skill is undeniable, their knowledge and realistic view of the music industry is also impressive. Despite their obvious high work ethic and longing to perfect their music, the group collectively understands that the better they are as an unsigned band, the more attractive they will look to a label in the future. “We have a lot of work to do still, but that will make us more appealing,” said Francis. “We have to think about this,” said Paone. “We really want to make this our career… we all do. We want this to be it.” As the rest of the group nodded in agreement, Francis once again looked at me dead in the eye and jokingly stated, “Off the record? I’m in this for the girls.”