published Monday, June 10th, 2013

Brooklyn-based Pimps of Joytime to pump out the soul for Bessie Smith Strut

The Pimps of Joytown will headline the Bessie Smith Strut on Monday night.
The Pimps of Joytown will headline the Bessie Smith Strut on Monday night.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
JUNE 7-15 • CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE

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If You Go

* What: The Pimps of Joytime

* When: 7-8:15 tonight.

* Where: Main Stage, Bessie Smith Strut, M.L. King Blvd.

* Admission: $5 with a Riverbend pin; $10 without a pin.

Take a little Prince, throw in some Sly and the Family Stone, maybe some Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffet and a little B.B. King, and you have The Pimps of Joytime, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band headlining tonight at the Bessie Smith Strut.

WUTC listeners may already be familiar with the band, thanks to the station's producer/host Cleveland Carlson, a fan who regularly "spins" their tunes.

"I have been a fan of The Pimps of Joytime for about five years," Carlson says. "Hailing from Brooklyn, their music reflects a bit of their city. I would describe it as very slick, polished, funk and neo-soul. It's definitely a modern sound but has hints of 1970's funk and soul, only with a modern twist. I love to dance to fun and funky music, and this band delivers."

Guitarist/keyboardist/lead vocalist Brian J, the Pimps' leader, says his band's sound reflects his love of all styles of music.

"My father was a huge music fan," Brian J says. "He turned me onto the blues, early rock'n'roll -- he liked the pioneers of rock 'n' roll, New Orleans jazz and country. He passed down that stuff to me, and I definitely got the bug."

Brian J says it's not easy to get bored with the band -- vocalist/percussionists Mayteana Morales and Cole Williams, bassist David Bailis, drummer John Staten -- because their music keeps evolving.

"I want it to be exciting," he says. "I'm constantly striving for something new."

Local musician Jack Gray says the sound of The Pimps of Joytime is a "melting pot of blues, funk and even a bit of African/Caribbean influence."

"[Brian J] is phenomenal," he says. "[The band] seem to have a lot of influences infused into the blues format, but much of the other influences are strong and take the feel of the music further from a traditional blues format. That's not to say these guys don't have a traditional blues repertoire, they do and again the guitar player, Brian J, is extremely skilled. These guys remind me of some of the groups I've seen in New Orleans."

Musician Robert Grier, of South Pittsburg, says the band "is a descendant of the lineage of sound pioneered by Sly Stone ... with influences of Curtis Mayfield and the dance bands of the 1970's -- Gap Band, Ohio Players, etc.

"It will be interesting to see what kind of show they present," says Grier, who plays bass and keyboard with Scenic City Soul Revue, the Tim Hughes Quartet and Wrecked.

Brian J says The Pimps of Joytime have worked hard to get where they are today.

"I have thoughts of where I think I should be at this time in my life and that's not constructive," he says. "As long as I'm moving forward, that will inspire me and the band to continue to grow. I've got a lot of music to make, and though it's challenging, it's rewarding. I'm lucky I have a talent and I get to use it to build a career without sacrificing my art."

Christian Collier of Chattanooga says he first heard the band on WUTC-FM and has only heard "a little bit of their discography, but I've enjoyed what I've heard."

"I think the eclecticism they display will go over well here," he says.

Local musician Barry Wilde says that, though he's not familiar with the band, he's anxious to hear them perform, especially at the Strut.

"That is why I will be there; it is a great cultural venue that exposes all of the local music fans to bands that they have overlooked or never have been witness to," he says. "I love it and have never been disappointed by the quality of music I've heard at the Strut."

Gray says bands like The Pimps of Joytime fare better in Chattanooga than blues.

"The genre of blues is often elbowed aside by more popular forms of music in Chattanooga," he explains. "The Strut is one of the few events promoting blues in general. I rarely hear of many blues acts here in town. It's difficult for a lot of bands to maintain a crowd or to sustain a whole evening of blues numbers, partly due to the repetitive nature of the songs. It takes skilled blues musicians to keep a show interesting.

"The Pimps of Joytime is an example of a band bringing more than the traditional blues format to their sound, which helps to keep the set fresh for the listeners."

Contact staff writer Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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