Music has certainly been flowing this month! I have met my quota and then some for my spring tours in New York City (NYC). Another fascinating group has now gotten my attention. I met with some new musicians last week who are more than meets the eye. Jocelyn and her brother Chris Arndt make up the family band that is Jocelyn Arndt. These two kids supported by their band: Kate Sgroi (bass guitar), David Bourgeois (drums and music director) Drew Tirella (percussion, bass, and keyboard) and Tucker Callander (violin) rocked out in a bluesy way that was simply enjoyable.
I met the siblings at Rockwood Music Hall, where they were set to perform that evening. After attending Rockwood many times, this was the first occasion where I was asked to join the musicians in the small, yet artsy green room. The place was crammed with instruments and filled with the comings and goings of various musicians preparing for the night. Hell, some even changed right in front of us as we spoke. I guess that is why they call it rock and roll. Jocelyn and her brother Chris greeted me and were comfortably seated on the dark couch excited to chat. I sat down next to Jocelyn and squeezed my way in-between a keyboard case. We were ready to begin.
Jocelyn is currently a sophomore at this school called Harvard University, a small yet significant institution. Perhaps you all have heard of it? She is studying English which has been a perfect segue into her lyrical writing. Chris is a freshman at the same school; intelligence runs strong in the Arndt clan. We began our chat on their travels in which they arrived in the morning to NYC via a Mega Bus from Boston, MA. Boston is a city they deeply enjoy; however, NYC holds a special place in their hearts. “It is the cities of all cities,” declares Jocelyn, “nobody can deny that everything happens here.” Just that night alone opened so many musical doors as additional players came out and worked their magic on the Rockwood stage. The Arndt kids may have been one of the highlights of that evening.
They proceeded earlier that afternoon to eat at Junior’s and perform at the Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee Lounge via an invite from Z100. Apparently All Time Low had just been there of whom Jocelyn would have loved to meet, “we found out we had just missed them! Luckily, I was able to snag a used guitar pick, so it was not a total loss.” Perhaps someday she will be able to return it to them in person? We shall see. Jocelyn and team are no strangers to NYC. They have played at small venues such as Pianos and are currently on tour all throughout the country. In early June they will be performing at the Mountain Jam Festival in which Jocelyn has some serious plans. “Other than performing, I am most excited to try and meet Grace Potter. I just have to find a way to sneak my way to say hello.” I hope they plan on finding The Black Keys as well. Both Grace Potter and The Black Keys would deeply appreciate Jocelyn and Chris’ music. I think they could hear a few of their own influences within. I know I did, but more on that later folks. Both Jocelyn and Chris have strong support from their family, who attended the show that night. “It will be easy to spot our dad, he will be the one buying drinks for everybody,” laughed Chris. Truth be told, he seemed genuinely happy with the talent his kids showed us all that night. Their father could not take his eyes off the stage or stop smiling. It was great to see.
Since both Jocelyn and Chris have a full tour ahead of them, they are just enjoying the ride as they go along. “We would love to play anywhere! Anyplace that will have us is ideal. Small or big venues makes no difference, although it would be great to play at Red Rocks someday,” Shared Chris. The acoustics and great sound appeal to his inner musician. Fortunately, Chris will have no trouble getting to these venues thanks to his new 1972 white Volkswagen convertible. He cannot wait to drive around with the top down and cruise. Keep an eye out for him on the road; it may be the second most precious thing to him other than his guitar.
Music has always been a part of the Arndt family. Jocelyn got into it when she started learning the piano and taking tap lessons. Eventually, as she got older, Chris began joining her with his guitar. By playing together as brother and sister, a new exploration into music was discovered. “Chris provides the structure of the music while I provide the lyrics, from there we combine his guitar playing and the piano to make our music.” Yet, Jocelyn’s singing came in by accident. As fate would have it, they were set to perform a show early on in their career when a fellow band member, who was to sing that evening, could not make it. The responsibility then landed on Jocelyn’s shoulders and she has not looked back ever since. Her voice has now been a signature piece of their music.
The guitar playing of the 70s inspires Chris while Jocelyn adores the vocals of female leads, such as Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé. “I have been loving B.B. King’s work and have enjoyed the style of Joe Bonamassa,” notes Chris. That style has thus been incorporated as Jocelyn’s singing grows. Jocelyn and Chris’ music has a strong blues-rock theme of which they continue to keep open minded. Using the various influences of their musical tastes, they have made their music personal and recognizable. Their motto is to create music ‘as good as they can make it.’ With the genre blending of indie-blues, rock and jazz, they are well on their way to a broad yet desirable niche. Jocelyn’s powerful voice and Chris’ wailing guitar brings such a unique and bluesy tune that is sweet for listeners all around. They provide a ton of heart that is evidently seen in their live performance by the audience who are constantly tapping their feet.
After talking so much with these musicians, I was ready to see them perform. As the interview ended, I headed on over to Stage 2 and grabbed a beer at the bar. Sarah Blacker, another superb musician, was finishing up her set and the crowd began to fill in for Jocelyn. When the Arndt duo and crew came onstage they took no rest and began to rock out immediately. The small yet enthusiastic crowd made it known that they were delighted to be there. Jocelyn and Chris’ parents were proudly welcoming their guests with smiles on their faces. It was quite adorable to see them waving to their folks.
Jocelyn’s music unleashed a rock and roll that was fueled by her extremely dominant voice. Who would have thought such a small lady could belch out such heavy-duty vocals? I was already blown away. The band is a young group of kids filled with energy and intense grooves. Jocelyn’s expressive singing is shown with her face and hands always grasping at the microphone as if it was the last thing she could ever touch. There was so much emotion and vitality in each lyric that you could tell she took each one seriously. Chris, however, is a natural rocker. He almost looked too relaxed at his playing as he mastered each solo with skill and thrill. His solos were something to marvel at. He would glance down at his guitar with a look of indifference as if it was just another part of his daily routine. He keeps the excitement going with a calm demeanor that is unimaginable. All the musicians on stage were exceedingly focused and flawless in their flow from one song to the next. They crammed as much fantastic music as they could in that hour. Everyone got their money’s worth, as well as some free CDs and stickers!
Something to note, as I have said many times before, these cats are so much better live. Their studio recordings do not give them justice when seeing and hearing the one of a kind element they provide on stage. When they perform live there is a power-blues component created. Imagine Stevie Nicks meets Stevie Ray Vaughan. With the addition of the violin and even a harmonica, they bring an old school folksy jam that is well deserved as a bonus.
What an eventful night. It was an absolute pleasure to chat with two intelligent and kind musicians. Both Jocelyn and Chris are a duo that will turn heads as they move onwards in the musical space. As long as they keep that enthusiastic vigor and good-natured passion alive, they will be sure to shine. For fans of new blues with great beats and influential guitar licks, look no further. Jocelyn Arndt will be the next musical craze to sweep the field. Look for them as they rock us all into a pleasant-sounding escapade.