The Very People, very clean

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

In the film A Hard Day?s Night Paul McCartney comments that his grandfather is a very "clean" man. Among the other attributes his grandfather possessed was also the ability to be a "keen mixer" and blend into any situation. That is what The Very People are here in Duluth, keen mixers and very clean.

Not to say that bands in Duluth don?t shower and can?t be in a room without creating a ruckus, but The Very People are clean-cut wholesomeness. Where other locals may be rough, they are smooth and polished. A sound that has been fine-tuned to make people dance, but not impose upon the listener. There is nothing controversial or shocking about The Very People, but they are very tight-knit on stage. This may have something to do with three of the band members being in the same family, or that during the band?s previous incarnation as Knockout Jones they mastered the art of funky cover band meets original interpretive songwriting.

On the band?s website is a tale of Jesse Luoma and his odyssey to The Very People. Stopping on the islands of California, Colorado, France, Poland, and even doing a bit of Irish pub music with Kieren at bars around Krakow; Jesse gained a love of folk music. Upon returning to the Ithaca we call Duluth he recorded his first album in 2004 titled, Joy in Mathematics. As if the journey physically wasn?t enough he decided to musically trek from folk to funk, rock, soul, and R&B.

The music that The Very People play is quick paced. When the songs are slower there is a touch of jazz and soulful singing from Rochelle Luoma. The rest of the band consists of Ryan Earp (Bass & Vocals), Ben Luoma (Electric Guitar & Vocals), Nathan Mattson (Electric Guitar), and Sebastian Witherspoon (Drums). Besides Knockout Jones, the band members have been in Accidental Porn, Discover Steve, Nothing Much, and The Soul Prophets.

The sound of The Very People?s original tunes is funky, but with a Blonde feel from somewhere. The crowd at the Tap Room last Saturday (April 14) rushed to the dance floor early with arms raised for dancing. The front filled quickly and the audience was dressed very preppy with a pinch of glitz. Sometimes a band is reflected by what its audience wears. TBT have patchwork skirts, Number One Common has all black, and The Very People have preppy bar tops and some glam.

With all the experience they are a tight sounding band and it will be great to see how they evolve from their various influences. Bands usually write a few songs right off the bat which can be hits or total misses. Frequently, as time goes by, and the band plays together longer, certain traits emerge that give a band a tight and completely unique sound. The Very People are almost there, but at times are more of a cover band sound than an original band. Perhaps they are shedding the last of Knockout Jones? skin. None of these things takes away from a band and, if anything, add to the excitement of discovering a new band?s identity.

The covers the band does play are very well complemented by their originals, which is always a great way to go. Many bands will play a cover that everyone knows and then go into an original that is a completely different tempo and genre. The audience rushes from the dance floor to the bar when this happens. The Very People don?t let this happen as they are smooth with their selection and they never let the floor clear. One original that stood out was the song, "Paint It Red." If there is one thing that really stands out from Jesse?s songwriting it?s his ability to write changes before the chorus that are almost catchier than the chorus itself. In "Paint It Red" the danceable movements of the song sway into the chorus with a stomp beat--almost marching-- and some great riffs from one of the electric guitars ties it all together.

The Very People are here to stay. Their one-two combination of originality and danceable beats catches on with many people. With a nice slot at the Tap Room for Homegrown (5/5/2006) they are getting noticed. They are "keen mixers" and very "clean."