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MJ Dardar

Eleven miles from the head of passes on the Mississippi River, Michael Dardar grew up in the small fishing community of Venice, Louisiana with one older sister always by his side. In his house could be heard a wide variety of sounds, as his mother was a Barbara Striesand and Frank Sanatra fan, while his father loved listening to The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, Boston, and Foghat. His first live musical experiences came from the local church, where his mother was a leader in the church choir. Gazing across such contrasting soundscapes, he would ultimately gravitate toward his father’s tastes. And around fifteen or sixteen years of age, he began to experiment with the idea of writing and making music along with a childhood friend. “You know the Fischer Price microphone things? We would go in there; we’d put these little cassette tapes in there and we’d put the scotch tape on top of them. And we would basically tape songs on a different stereo, whether it would be a Beatles tape or something like that. And we would overdub our own lyrics and melodies on top of the tapes.” Looking back, he laughs at the thought of his father popping in one of his favorite tapes only to find his own voice beaming from the speakers. Years of this would eventually culminate in his first album, Rust, recorded in April on 2021.

From his days of experimenting with recordings of his own, the allure of one day making the transition into live performances seeded deep within him. And it never left. And although he rounded up a talented bunch of musicians to pull off the album, his only experience performing it came as an acoustic set with friend and co-writer, Jerry Martin. The two would eventually translate the work into an all-inclusive performance, implementing more band members and instrumental elements to his act. Gradually, guys like Mark Kryvanick and Tim Belanger would join them on bass and drums respectively. And he would implement a rotating roster of guys like Tillis Verdin, Brett Guillory, Teddy Baudoin, and Travis Thibodeaux on keys. Larger shows would even see a horn section taking to the stage. Adding the horns to his live performances, MJ feels, really resonated with himself as well as the crowd. “Adding that horn section is kind of the big one. The last time we did it was an album release party which was early May, May 6th I believe. And every song on our last album had full horn sections. And so, to be able to perform them that way, with the actual horn lines as opposed to transposing keyboard parts and things like that… it’s so much better and is really able to translate what we recorded into the live performance.” These elements were a refreshing change from the previous acoustic performances which had eventually become stale in his eyes. As Jerry Martin points out, “There’s nights, as an acoustic gig, where you’re struggling to hear yourself (above the crowd).”

With Houma and Lafayette being mainstays for the MJ Dardar band, the Tasting Room and Howlin’ Wolf in New Orleans have also played host. But Houma has always marked home base for MJ. Enlisting a full-time manager and maintaining a strong online presence has enabled him to broaden his reach, which he hopes will eventually lead to a venture outside of normal boundaries. Finding value in this, MJ has been sure to engage with fans and followers in the thousands across multiple platforms. I, for one, have enjoyed the personal aspect in videos where he sits down in front the camera, playing acoustic guitar and singing. This ability to connect with his audience was instrumental during the height of Covid back in April of 2020. Along with Jerry Martin and other band mates, he committed to remotely filming forty-one full request, multi-track videos in thirty days. It was through this personal challenge and the resulting encouragement of online audiences that the genesis of the Rust record took hold.

At their core, the songs on Rust feel good. The rhythm guitar strums, tambourines, and shakers keep you in the groove while story lines originate from the heart. And bringing in that brass section gives it a feint departure from your typical country sound. Hammond and reed organ contributions back MJ’s soulful vocals nicely. And he’s got just enough grit in his voice, like the perfect mix of sweet and savory. Track “Leaver” pulls us away from this rural soundscape completely, delivering a surprising R&B plunge. Softer rhodes and sustained piano take the edge off as MJ sings about the value of his family as a child. The overall quality of these recordings is unquestionable. And this is important to point out because it doesn’t take much to pull a listener outside of an enveloping experience due to a distractive distortion or overwhelming level. It’s a delicate balance that MJ and the band maintain very well. And their ability to cross over from country to R&B seems completely natural.

MJ recorded his debut album at Audiosmith Studio in Prairieville, Louisiana under the guidance of owner Robbie Smith, a long-time friend and associate of his band mate Jerry Martin. As luck would have it, this would give way to a host of opportunities for him. Not long after completing his album, Robbie would go on to help form Redstick Records, a label out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And he asked if MJ would be interested in signing a recording contract with the label. Travis Thibodeaux, whom I mentioned earlier, would also do work for the studio on keys. Bringing his experience as the keyboard player and vocalist for Journey, and writing credits for “Take My Hand” recorded by Grammy winner Wayne Toups, Travis would prove a valuable asset. Through Redstick Records, MJ would have the pleasure of working with Brignac Lane Studios in Saint Amant, Louisiana while still reaping the benefits of Robbie’s production skills. He would also go onto be featured in several works by Jambon and Company, a band that had also recorded at Audiosmith Studio. Taylor Nauta, another artist on the Redstick roster, recorded guitar on MJ’s upcoming record “Caught Up In The Middle Of The Rain”. And Deanna Scott, MJ’s manager, would be taken on as Artist Management at Redstick Records. Being within this circle of musicians, recording studios, and labels has enabled MJ to implement things like strings into his work. The extension has also accommodated him in his quest to expand across country, blues, R&B, and pop genres. And being in the room with some of his personal heroes while soaking in the camaraderie and confidence of others has really inspired him to push the envelope.

With album number two, “The Reason Why”, nearly complete. And his third album taking shape, MJ am Jerry still intend to release stripped down, acoustic versions in the midst. The impact of growth through their journey, first with Robbie Smith of Audiosmith Studio, then Redstick Records and manager Deanna Scott continues to propel the two forward. Over 100 shows this past year and so much time logged in the studio is proof positive of their drive. I couldn’t be more delighted to have the privilege of sitting down with MJ and his team, and discussing how things took shape as well as where the band hopes to find themselves in the future. Below you will find relevant links to the players mentioned in this article. The full interview can be found on our podcast where MJ, Jerry, and myself go on to discuss navigating festivals and venues, chord structures and story lines of previous albums versus upcoming ones, and much more. Special thanks goes out to Kevin Sevin in Houma, Louisiana for the use of his beautiful home during the filming of this interview, which you will soon be able to see on our youtube channel by subscribing today.

https://mjdardarmusic.com

https://www.audiosmithstudio.com

https://redstickrecords.com

Author: David Trahan

Neworleansmusicians.com

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CRABS

We’re all adults here, true enough. But sometimes we don’t all act as such. And if there’s one concept in the local music scene that gets under my skin more than any other, it’s this mentality that is commonly referred to as “crabs in a bucket”. You see, our delicious crustaceans are all piled into a bucket, much like musicians in a parish. And sometimes one of those crabs gets close to toppling over the edge and escaping (a.k.a. “making it big”). And for some reason, a crab beneath him will reach up and pull that crab down. Now this crab beneath him doesn’t stand to gain any ground by doing this. In fact, if crabs had morals, one could probably hear the others sneering at this bizarre activity. But they just gargle and bubble, and keep on pulling each other down. I come to work here at NOM because I believe in the cause. I believe that if we all unite under one flagship, we could each become greater than the sum of our own individual parts. In other words, if your band joins and several hundred other bands join, we pool our resources and become this collective. And why not? We share the common goal of improving our skill set, broadening our reach, increasing our opportunities. Yet there are some knuckleheads out there that operate under the notion that “you’re either with me or against me”.

I’ll never forget the moment I fell in love. It was when I noticed there was such a thing as a comfortable silence that could be shared between two people. There was no need to engage or provoke. I opened her door when her hands were full. She popped open a beer and brought it to me. We shared the same space and contributed to one another’s existence. There was no competition. There was no pulling one another down or trying to get ahead of each other. Ah, to coexist.

This mentality needs to be spread amongst the local music community. And I’m not just saying that for the betterment of Neworleansmusicians.com. I’m saying it because IF this community is going to flourish, we are all going to have to come together. Some of us are alphas and we butt heads. Some of us have a competitive streak and are quick to react out of spite. But ultimately, we are all brothers and sisters of the groove. And if y’all want to keep this train running, we’ve all got to push in the same direction.

I recently spoke with a bassist that relayed a story to me about how he was kicked out of one band for behavior that was later embraced by another. I talked to a singer that pointed out how people began to question her new band’s talent simply because they were able to open up for somebody big their first show. I spoke to a guitarist that recalled when a guy from another band came to his show just to mess up his merch table. Mess up somebody’s merch table?? Come on man! Swallow your pride and revert back to the comfortable silence. With the same femme fatale by whom I once discovered love, I noticed this sort of super power I possessed. There were times when she would lash out. And everything in me wanted to push her away for it. One time, for a reason I can’t recall, I instead extended an olive branch. And it wasn’t in the context of a direct response to her lashing. It was just a, hey I’m still here. I’m still the same person regardless of your acting out. We’re still cool and I hold no malice. In fact, you seem like you’re in a bad place and please, let me know if I can help.

This was all an unspoken understanding or gesture between her and I. But if you were to get this dialogue rolling after some crabby situation took place, I think you’d be surprised at the outcome. Looking back, I can tell you my gesture toward that alleged femme fatale was disarming, and things de-escalated quickly. One last story before I call it a day. Years ago, two guys from the neighborhood got into it over who knows what. But they were both heated and it culminated in a fight right in the middle of the street. In the end, as with any fight, there was a winner and there was a loser. But in this particular situation, the winner extended his hand. He helped the loser up. The beef was squashed with that one simple gesture. It’s been well over a decade since that fight. And the two are friends to this day. In that one moment, when this disastrous apogee clearly became out of control, a helping hand was extended. And just like that, the bucket had vanished.

Author: Lingo Starr

lingo_starr@yahoo.com

Neworleansmusicians.com

Neworleansmusicians.com Podcast can be found on these platforms.

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Jimmy’s Music Club

Nearing the end of 1944 Roosevelt was in office. And the United States, fueled by a recent victory over the Nazi’s in north-western France, was still entrenched in World War II. Back home in New Orleans, though the city had struggled through a depression and rationing of resources, many locals enjoyed full-time employment at military bases and factories in the area. On the heels of a successful career in boxing, James Anselmo Sr. was there to serve these men and women. He ran The Little Blue Room on Bienville Street and The Jimmy King’s Mardi Gras Lounge on Bourbon Street. And on September 19th of that same year, ”he” became “we” when James and Mary gave birth to James (Jimmy) Anselmo Jr.

As a child Jimmy Jr. was always by his father’s side. One of Jimmy’s earliest memories with his father was at the Mardi Gras Lounge. At age five he can recall crawling up on the band stand to play with the drum sticks. His father would exclaim, “If that drummer sees you up there, he’ll kick your ass boy!” Entering his teenage years, Jimmy could still be found close by. He would work as a delivery boy at his father’s restaurant, The King’s Barbeque, also on Bourbon Street. This was a fun time for Jimmy because at the age of 14, he was able to walk inside places most kids could not. The classmates at his school would beg for a job with him upon hearing tales of what he saw delivering sandwiches to businesses like a local strip club. This would mark the first time Jimmy met Mac Rebbenack, a.k.a. Dr. John. But more on that later.

As did many kids of the time, Jimmy would attend dances at places like Sacred Heart and Germania Hall. Armed with a fake I.D., money from wages, and a car gifted to him by his father, Jimmy was able to see many live music acts at these places as well as local bars in New Orleans. With so much at his fingertips Jimmy was still able to remain a grounded, responsible young man. He joined the Navy Reserves when he was just a Junior in high school. And in following through with his commitment, found himself aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga directly after his graduation from Francis T. Nichols High School in 1963. Working the flight deck in and out of ports, this was his chance to see the world; France, Spain, Italy, Greece… making friends and memories along the way.

Following his time in the Navy Jimmy returned to New Orleans and began working for his brother-in-law Bobby Blanchard at a club called Papa Joes. He would bar tend during the jam sessions by a house band. Freddy Fender was on bass, Little Joe Lambert on drums, Joey Long on guitar, and Skip Esterland on the Hammond B-3. With good wages and great music, and the ability to now get his first apartment and a new car, Jimmy was at a good place in his life. It was at this time in 1967 Jimmy got married and bought his first club in Uptown New Orleans called Co-eds. With this night club he was able to get his feet wet as an independent business owner. And within five years, he was ready to expand. In 1972 Jimmy had his eye on an empty space just a block away and decided to build another night club, naming it Quasimodo’s.

Outside Quasimodo’s, 1973.

The next four years would treat Jimmy well. And although capacity at both locations was limited, both night clubs were successful in gaining quite a following. There was one customer in particular that would stop in Quasimodo’s from time to time, Al. He was the owner of Al Pelligrini’s Pool Hall over on Willow St. Uptown. The two would talk and the notion that Al was interested in selling would come up. As Jimmy explains, “I was successful there (at Co-eds and Quasimodo’s) but I wouldn’t have the success that I would have at Jimmy’s Music Club. I was limited in what I could do because capacity might be 100 at each place. So, I was getting anxious and I wanted to move on. I told myself; where are you gonna be in the next five years?” Between Jimmy’s current success and his ever-present ambition, he decided to seize this opportunity and take Al up on his offer. Al’s pool hall was somewhat of an ailing operation at the time. The building it was housed in was built circa 1915 and the business had become a local destination for run off from the methadone clinic nearby. But Jimmy had visions of turning things around and opening a music venue. So, in September of 1976 he bought Al Pelligrini’s Pool Hall, closing it down just two weeks later. 

At this point in time, he hadn’t even thought of a name for his new club. One possible name that stuck with him was The Depot, being that it was across the street from the street car station. But in pursuit of something greater, closing the pool hall would mark the start of an almost two-year renovation process. The sale of Co-eds and Quasimodo’s helped fund this enormous undertaking. In order to achieve the vision Jimmy had in mind, it was going to take more financing. He would approach three banks, being turned down each time, before finding hope through the Small Business Administration. Initially he was even turned down there. He was able to resubmit his original proposal at a lower cost, choosing to eliminate the kitchen from his plans. And luckily his mother, Mary, was able to secure a loan to show the SBA Jimmy had the necessary funds in his account. In the end, all of the effort paid off! Plumbers, electricians and carpenters were all put to work on this extensive project. And on April 8th 1978, Jimmy’s Music Club was opened for business. But not before his mother lent him the money to put in the registers. Things were that tight! His first act was Little Queenie and the Percolators. The following weekend, The Neville Brothers took the stage and would be no stranger to the budding venue in the future.

Throughout the years owning Jimmy’s Music Club, he didn’t always have success. For instance, the money he made from his first and second weekends with Little Queenie and The Neville Brothers was lost on his third weekend with a jazz act that flopped. Unless he knew for sure they could draw a large crowd, jazz acts wouldn’t be found at Jimmy’s too often due to this. But he learned a lot and pivoted when counted. At the outset he knew he couldn’t afford the up-front money national acts required. And although some local acts in New Orleans were of national quality in their own right, they were a necessity in order for this music club to survive. Looking back, the relationship Jimmy shared with his performers was both beautiful and mutualistic if you think about it. His first national act was Asleep at the Wheel who performed there on May 27th, 1978. Admittedly booking a national act this soon after opening was a big gamble for Jimmy. But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. While the band was requesting the deposit, Jimmy was stalling for time. Yet they showed up on that night and rocked the crowd. Some other things he did to save money was to come in and bartend, not carry an extensive selection of liquors, and always negotiate a lower asking price for bands. He even put a trailer out back and lived in it at one time. Jimmy recalls a time in 1984 when he was approached by agents for Gregg Allman just before New Year’s. They were asking for $14,000 to do a show. But relying on leverage due to the recent closure of Tipitina’s, Jimmy’s main competitor, Jimmy stood tall and refused the offer, explaining he didn’t give guarantees (flat rates). Now mind you, this is Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers, the same Allman Brothers that had performed at the opening of the Superdome. And the agents would remind Jimmy of who he was dealing with throughout negotiations. As Gregg was, at this point in time, very much enjoying immense success with his solo career. The two negotiated back and forth until alas, on Friday December 30th of ’84, Gregg Allman performed for just a percentage of the door, still raking in more than his initial demand. Between Jimmy’s business savvy and his venue’s growing reputation, he was able to play host to many bands throughout the years on his own terms. Countless New Orleanians came to see bands like The Gaboans Gang featuring Ziggy “Zigaboo” Modeliste (founding member of The Meters), The Neville Brothers, The Sheiks, The Cold, Professor Longhair and his Scholars, James Booker, Rickie Lee Jones, Brad Orgeron, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Joan Baez, The Raffeys, Ernie K-Doe, Wayward Youth, The Red Rockers, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Black Flag, The Psychedelic Furs, Huey Lewis and the News and the list went on.

The Wayward Youth, across the street from Jimmy’s at the street car depot. Photo credit Edward Kalil.

From the start Jimmy didn’t just open a music venue to expand commerce. True enough, the end result was a consolidation from two smaller clubs to one large club with greater capacity. And he couldn’t help but notice the opening of other music venues in New Orleans over the years. But he had a love of music and wanted to learn the business. This is why at his own club you could find him behind the bar, or behind a desk booking bands himself. You might find him running sound or moving tables and chairs out back along-side his employees. He implemented little things like an ATM as opposed to a credit card machine because, at the time, it slowed business down. And the tables and chairs went out back to fit more people. His aim was to be the quickest, most efficient venue in town. Over the years his passion for excellence and his ability to succeed gained him a reputation, such to where national acts came calling, as opposed to the other way around. His love of music also compelled him to form long lasting relationships with these artists. He would hire a car and driver to cart performers like Dr. John around town. He befriended their families. He employed people to cook southern style meals for them as a show of hospitality. Most people loved him for it. But surprisingly he added, David Allen Coe didn’t exactly take to that last gesture. The man spent so much time in jail he refused the New Orleans dishes, instead requesting some “prison food”. So, Jimmy took him down the street to a pharmacy where he bought David a frozen Salisbury Steak meal. If that’s not passion, I don’t know what is.

There was a scuffle in downtown New Orleans that made the paper back in July of 1940 in which James Anselmo Sr was involved along with two n’er-do-wells. When all was said and done, he was still standing. And at least one of the aggressors would not live to see another day. Like his father, for his country and in business Jimmy Anselmo Jr. had guts. He knew an opportunity when he saw one and he never let it get away. In being this, he not only preserved our precious New Orleans music culture; he gave it a place to grow.  

Author: David Trahan

Neworleansmusicians.com

Neworleansmusicians.com Podcast can be found on these platforms.

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Platform Status 10

I’m always looking for creative ways to help our members promote their music. And in making this a constant quest, one idea I’ve arrived at is what I’m here to tell you about today. Neworleansmusicians.com has established accounts on nine streaming platforms, each with public playlists searchable by the platform’s users. There are 16 playlists in all, on every account, to correspond with the 16 genres on our site. When you join NOM we search for your material on these platforms and add it to the playlists on our accounts. The plays, credits, and payments all forward back to you. You are, of course, free to set up your own accounts on these platforms. In fact, we encourage that. Our program works in congruence with your presence in these places. In other words, whatever streaming platform you’re on, we’ll find and add you when you sign up with us on Neworleansmusicians.com.

Domestic and foreign popular streaming platforms

Spotify – 365 million monthly users

Apple Music – 78 million subscribers

Youtube music – 50 million subscribers

Amazon – 48.1 million monthly users

Tidal – 3 million subscribers

Deezer – 16 million monthly users

Soundcloud – 175 million monthly users

Qobuz – 200,000 subscribers

Anghami – 70 million users

Gaana – 185 million monthly users

JioSaavn – 100 million monthly users

Boomplay – 60 million monthly users

So, what’s the “ten” in “Platform Status 10”? Well, in another article I mentioned Reverbnation as the type of place we differentiated ourselves from, being that unlike them we only serve Louisiana musicians. So, it may seem a bit ironic that I mention them now in this light. But any way that we can push our artists is game in my opinion. So, when you join our site and upload music to your profile, we can add it to our Reverbnation account playlist. This account is also searchable which will allow your work more plays.

That’s it kids! I can’t promise you the world. But with Neworleansmusicians.com I can promise you creative promotional tactics from a reputable resource and a trusted brand. As Louisiana bands, I hope to see you sign on with us and elevate your streaming platform status to ten!

Author: David Trahan

Neworleansmusicians.com

Neworleansmusicians.com Podcast can be found on these platforms.

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Our Reviewer Lingo Starr

While one might not be able to accuse him of being too friendly, he speaks his mind. And that’s brisk, baby.

Ice-T

Second cousin to a chemotherapist that stumbled upon the formula for Nair, Lingo had the discourse of being lost several times abroad due to his family’s constant vacationing. It was often rumored, but never confirmed, that these instances were intentional. As a small boy, he was suspected of having cerebral palsy when it was discovered that his mother had been putting (too much) whiskey in his bottle. Still, he managed to forge his own way in life, letting music be his guide. Though he was born   from a family of means, his family mismanaged their coffers. Because of this, Lingo did not in fact attend college. Instead, he attended college parties, pilfering the text books of others whenever possible. Sadly, he would be present at many graduations, only never on stage.

     Lingo’s exceptional writing skills were first formally recognized by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when he successfully forged a letter of pardon from the governor. Their embarrassment is the only reason he is still free today. After this brief stint in a “college” of his own, he fabricated an exceptional resume and sent it to Neworleansmusicians.com. We were unaware of the incredibly bogus nature of the document and jumped at the opportunity to have him in for an interview. To be fair, we did finally come to realize that he was not awarded the position of “Ketergantungan Kimiawi” during his residency in Indonesia. He didn’t even go to Indonesia. And Ketergantungan Kimiawi in English means chemically dependent. But this made it apparent that we had a clever one on our hands. And I like to believe that everyone has their strongpoints. So, we hired him.

     He doesn’t show up on time, if ever. And he seems to have an aversion to personal hygiene. Those that meet him are usually turned off by this and his boisterous nature. He has a passion for music though. And at times he unknowingly reveals an emotionable consciousness that wraps itself in melody and articulates that into beautiful, literal sonic expansions. In other words, the kid’s a damn good music writer and we’re keeping him. I hope you all look out for his pieces in the future because I know I will. I have to fact check our little fabricator and act as a purifier to the hot air he so graciously pumps out to the masses. Until then, he goes by many titles; some of them quite insulting. But his name is Lingo Starr. And for all you local Louisiana bands out there, if you’d like your single reviewed and written about, he’s your man. You MUST be a member of Neworleansmusicians.com for your submissions to be considered. And while we get him set up, you can submit your single to neworleansmusicians@gmail.com and I’ll make sure he gets his ass to the office (hopefully on time) and starts these reviews!

Author: David Trahan

Neworleansmusicians.com

Neworleansmusicians.com Podcast can be found on these platforms.

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New Here? Welcome!

“N.O.M. was built for Louisiana musicians only, distinguishing your band from the masses. And it was built to serve you at no cost.”

David Trahan

Too many… 20,000 to 30,000 songs are uploaded to streaming platforms daily. Yeah, that’s right, daily! And while the term “music business” may seem as though it contains polar opposites, the fact is that the business end determines how well the music is received. As an independent musician, the most powerful way to combat these overwhelming odds is to become a part of something greater. In 2022, Neworleansmusicians.com will become that something. Being newly launched, our goal for this year is to onboard 300 bands from Louisiana. Once we do that we will hire a marketing firm to fill our worldwide venue, label, producer, etc. directories further empowering you. The end game is a platform where you can contact these companies directly, booking your own shows, scheduling interviews, lodging, or recording sessions anywhere in the world. If you become part of this network you bypass conventional means, getting to the source for success. N.O.M. was built for Louisiana musicians only, distinguishing your band from the masses. And it was built to serve you at no cost.

And hey, if your business serves the music industry, don’t worry. You’re in the right place! On NOM, you are classified as a vendor and can choose your specific service(s) from the drop down menu. Registering with us will put you in front of the musicians that need services like yours.

Curious, but don’t have the time? Leave your info and we’ll shoot you a link later. Ready to jump right in? Click REGISTER, and become part of something greater!

Be sure to check your spam folder, as this form does not retain your email until you confirm in your inbox.

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Maximum sound with minimum dimensions! – Review Hughes and Kettner StompMan

When the Hughes & Kettner company introduced the Spirit Tone Generator a few years ago together with their BS 200 series, a worldwide murmur went through the scene. Never before it has been possible to get so close to the sound of a vacuum tube with a transistor amplifier. Due to the patented, purely analogue circuit, the amplifier managed to bridge the gap between the light, inexpensive but also poorly-sounding transistor amplifiers to the top league of all-tube amplifiers in terms of sound, which unfortunately also have a high transport weight and, due to their components, have a significantly higher price .

It was immediately clear to me that this part would be a box office hit, but even I didn’t expect the immense success of this amplifier series. Other products such as the Nano Heads or the AmpMan followed and, with the help of the Spirit Tone Generator, were able to deliver a significantly higher quality sound than what the retail price would suggest. But Hughes & Kettner wouldn’t be Hughes & Kettner if they weren’t constantly striving to expand and improve their portfolio, which is why the latest addition to the Spirit Tone Generator family is called StompMan and again comes with a number of very well thought-out and extremely practical ones Features would come up.

The structure of the Hughes & Kettner StompMan

The experienced reader will probably be able to guess for which application the Hughes&Kettner StompMan was designed after just a quick look at the layout of the amplifier in combination with its name. The dimensions of just (W x D x H): 132 mm x 52 mm x 153 mm and the weight of 650 g suggest that the amp was designed for floorboard use. In order to be able to operate the amp, on the other hand, the included power supply unit must be used, since the performance characteristics of 24 V and 2.5 A cannot be supplied by any multi-voltage power supply unit that is normally used in floorboard operation. But the whole thing shouldn’t be a real problem, since the power supply was designed to be relatively flat and narrow and should therefore fit under most floorboards beyond the Nano / Mini series with 2 cable ties or the like. The power supply works worldwide due to its voltage processing of 100 – 240 volts.

The concept of the amplifier, designed as a single channel, is based on the AmpMan, which is characterized in terms of tone control by dispensing with a three-band tone control in favor of a tone controller. In addition to the master volume and the gain controller, the Hughes&Kettner StompMan offers three controllers from the power amp area, which are divided into the areas of resonance, presence and sagging. The sagging controller in particular is a unique selling point, as it emulates the saturation behavior of a tube power amp and can play to its strengths, especially in the crunch area.

The amp delivers 25 watts into 8 ohms, which is more than enough for a regular club gig. Since it is a transistor output stage, the power output varies depending on the impedance of the box, i.e. the amp offers almost 12.5 watts at 16 ohms, but 50 watts at 4 ohms. The Hughes&Kettner StompMan offers 2 footswitches, a solo switch with which the output level can be increased by up to +6 dB (adjustable via a potentiometer on the front) and a bypass switch whose function can be combined on the front with a mini switch FX-Loop toggle switch and we will go into its exact function in a moment.

The design of the amp The Hughes & Kettner StompMan, with its single-channel orientation in the stand-alone function, is based on the “more-or-less-clean” and distorted sounds of the 60s and early 70s, which can be found as a house number in the JMP and JCM area, or to put it another way, Clean is done with the volume control of the guitar and lead / high gain with an overdrive / distortion pedal connected in front of it. The gain range was designed to be rather moderate and focuses more on the power amplifier work, which can be varied very well with the sagging controller even at low volumes. If bypass is activated, gain and tone are taken out of the signal path, but presence, resonance and sagging are still available and deliver finely controllable tube power amp sound. So far everything is fine, but that alone would not necessarily be a strong argument for the amp, so we now come to the application examples of the amp!

The application examples of the Hughes&Kettner StompMan

Unlike guitarists who need a modeller as an “all-in-one” solution, a typical pedal board player mostly wants a modular solution where they can express their individuality using their personal pedals. He may also want to connect additional preamps and, depending on the area of ​​application, use separate speaker emulations for direct to FOH or in-ear applications and may also use external noise gates. Here the StompMan can help with a comparatively simple but ingenious setup:

1.) As a full-fledged single-channel amp

Use with booster, fuzz, overdrive, chorus, flanger etc. in front of the input, and reverb or delay effects in the loop is the main application of the Hughes&Kettner StompMan. Here the StompMan is used like a classic single-channel amp including pre- and power-amp sound parameters with a guitar box, with the convenience of a switchable FX loop and a clever solo function to relieve the FOH .

2) As a power amp (bypassing the internal preamp)

Thanks to the integrated bypass, the user does not need to “abuse” the FX return to bypass the internal preamp so that external preamps can be boosted. Bypass removes gain and tone from the signal path, the power amp sound parameters presence, resonance and sagging as well as the FX loop can still be used. To adjust the input level of the StompMan to the output level of the connected preamp, the StompMan offers a trim pot on the underside.

3) Recording via FX Send/Line and Software Cab-Sims

Whether with or without ballasts or preamps, the StompMan output labeled “FX Send / Line” picks up the signal directly in front of the master, so it already contains presence, resonance and sagging. Ideal for going into the line input of the DAW and using software cab sims and effects.

4) In Ear / Direct to FOH / FRFR

Appropriate hardware cab sims can be used for direct to FOH or in-ear applications. Instead of going into the return of the StompMan, at the end of the signal chain you simply go into the input of the Cab Sim and from its output to the console. It is still possible to use the power amp of the StompMan: if you connect the output of the Cab Sim to the return of the StompMan, its power amp amplifies the full-range signal of the Cab Sim FRFR boxes can be operated at the speaker-out of the StompMan.

The Hughes&Kettner StompMan in practice

In the practical part, I concentrated on the stand-alone operation of the amp, since the sound effects of external pedals would change the sound of the amp too much. The first thing that strikes you once again is that the tone control actually makes 80 – 90% of all three-band settings superfluous. On the contrary, the risk of an incorrect setting is massively reduced. Left stop has the typical British mid boost, right stop has a typical scoop alignment, everything in between is infinitely adjustable.

As with the big example of the Hughes & Kettner StomMan (I guess it’s supposed to be a 2203), the tonal effectiveness is kept very moderate, i.e. even with long control paths the change in sound remains moderate. So you can z. B. like to set the Resonance control to the right stop without causing a lot of pumping, but that’s exactly what makes u. the sonic appeal. Once again you have to keep in mind that this is not an all-tube amp, because the analog circuitry in combination with the sagging control makes it really difficult to filter out the difference in sound. The amp is highly dynamic, hangs very well on the guitar’s volume control and offers the perfect basis for classic riffing in blues, rock and traditional hard rock.

For the American clean sound, the Hughes&Kettner StompMan also offers very variable options, for example I was very impressed by a clean gain setting with a strong sagging component. To hear the sagging effect in an A/B comparison, I recorded the same riff with and without sagging, the result speaks for itself. In conclusion, the StompMan can only be given top marks. The amp convinces with tiny dimensions with a very good sound, which is really, very close to the originals in the style of a 2203 or 2204, but has a significantly higher circuit flexibility, which again significantly increases the portability.

Hughes&Kettner StompMan – Clean

Hughes&Kettner StompMan – Crunch 1

Hughes&Kettner StompMan – Crunch 2

Hughes&Kettner StompMan – Humbucker No Sagging

Hughes&Kettner StompMan – Humbucker With Sagging

Conclusion

With the Hughes & Kettner StompMan, the German company has landed another big hit. The excellent-sounding amp impresses with a clever concept, which puts it in the front row of working musicians in terms of transportability and flexibility.

If you want to get the maximum sound out of your floorboard, you should definitely try the amp.

For further information about the amp, please check out THIS LINK and check your language at the upper right corner.

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Written by Axel Ritt for Neworleansmusicians.com

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