$8 in advance/$10 at the door
7pm doors/7:30pm showtime
Ashley DuBose is probably most widely known for her participation in Season 5 of NBC’s The Voice, but her musical journey began years before her world debut on the hit reality TV show.
Ashley began singing and writing music at the age of 10 years old – a well-kept secret at that time. The desire to be a recording artist and performer grew from watching pop artists like Britney Spears, Destiny’s Child, and Aaliyah perform on television. Ashley’s first performance was in the sixth grade when she performed in her school’s talent show. Encouraged early on by her mother to sing for family, friends and strangers alike, Ashley eventually conquered her nerves enough to perform in larger talent shows, community engagements, bars, weddings, and clubs.
In May 2012, Ashley released her independent debut album, Somethin’ More. The album was created while Ashley parented her 2 year old daughter and attended college full-time. Released just a day before graduating with a 4-year mathematics degree, Somethin’ More was a culmination of Ashley’s life experiences over the four years leading up to its creation – hope, discouragement, love, betrayal, faith, and the desire to achieve what she believes is a greater calling on her life. The unplugged acoustic version of Somethin’ More was released in the following year, catering to the listeners that enjoy a more stripped down approach to the album’s originals.
Understanding that the identification of a genre is arguably as important at choosing a major in college, Ashley has decided her genre is to remain “undeclared”. A variety of tastes in music and forms of musical expression has kept Ashley from placing her artistry in that box that so many musicians dread. Ashley’s music creation process is often collaborative, unconstrained and spontaneous, very much reflective of her free-spirited nature. For this reason, one might hear elements of hip hop (inspired by the productions of producer Jimmy Easy), blended with neo-soul-like lyricism on the verses, and a catchy pop-worthy hook all in one song that’s laced with an acoustic guitar loop.
Now back home in the Twin Cities, after battling it out on The Voice, Ashley is teaming up with Jimmy Easy, producer of Somethin’ More to work on their second album together. Stay tuned world, this should be awesome!
“We lurk late,” reads a line from Gwendolyn Brooks’ iconic poem “We Real Cool,” describing a group of young Black men shooting pool on the south side of Chicago. The last line reads “we die soon.” Death, preceded by the carefreeness of youth is a juxtaposition all too familiar to Black Americans. To lurk is to be your own boss. To defy America’s social order. To lurk is to survive, and as a Black American, survival is work in itself. Good thing Greg Grease is a working man.
On his new album Born To Lurk, Forced To Work, Grease trades the south side of Chicago in 1959 for present day south Minneapolis. Pool sticks are exchanged for spray paint, a drum machine and a mic. The constant of racism remains -- most topically in Minneapolis’ infamous Lurking Ordinance -- as does the effortless cool in the face of it. He lurks late, but knows he still has to show up for his job in the morning.
A Blue-Collar Afro-centricity is present throughout all of Grease’s music, but takes front and center on BTLFTW. The literal grind of “working seven to four and feeling mis-er-able,” and like his latest release -- 2013‘s Black King Cole EP -- the constant existential grind of a Black man finding his place in America, even with knowledge of self. Building on the theme of his 2012 debut album Cornbread, Pearl & G, Grease paints a picture of the inner city with a tactful brush. Jobs aren’t worth much as corporatism rules everything around him. Children are raised defenseless and forced to shed their innocence, making moves by night at a pace they can’t keep up. Trigger happy cops are watching just around the corner, locking them up pair by pair just as they did their fathers.
Stints in Atlanta and North Carolina during his formative years gives Grease’s music a certain southern funk and rattle that many of his Northern peers lack. But a permanent home in south Minneapolis, with the The Usual Suspects -- a collective comprised of members of Somali, Nigerian, Japanese, Latino and Indigenous heritage -- provides an amalgam of influences that are both familiar yet hard to pin down. There’s soul music from his mother, a golden-age sensibility from his father and the creative freedom of his own countercultural leanings.
A former funk and punk rock drummer, Grease raps with an internal rhythm that compliment the density of his verses and invites similarly minded emcees like P.O.S, Fresh Daily, Akrite and Tall Paul to lend a hand. There is a craftsman’s attention to each syllable within his myriad of flows, and a desire to explore the range of his voice-as-instrument, singing several of the album’s hooks. The album’s production, partly provided by Grease and aided by Medium Zach, Proper T, Ackryte and Starro of Soulection, sheds predictability. Uplifting piano riffs give way to somber violins, chirping bird choruses, moody synths, elegant flutes and spanish guitars. It’s a relentlessly textured sound that reflects the spirit of a crate-digger and the ambition of an orchestra, er, “Lurkestra” leader. A nod to Jay Dee and a wink to Sun-Ra.
Born To Lurk, Forced To Work, works by honing in on what Grease has always aimed for: music that’s multi-dimensional. Music that makes feel you good when shit goes bad, and hits you in the gut when you think shit is sweet. It’s a smile and a tear. Greg Grease is mourning and celebrating. That is, if the rent is paid.