Huzzah for the Shopkeep!
Huzzah for the Shopkeep! was an Oberlin rock band originally founded in January 2004. In its final form, the band consisted of James Atwood '07 (drums), Jeremy Rockman '08 (bass/vocals), Jesse Jacobsen '07 (guitar/vocals), Billy Noseworthy '07 (vocals), Jesse Sternberg '07 (vocals/guitar), and Dan Valdespino '09 (harmonica).
The band resulted from the musical relationship between Jacobsen and Sternberg, which began when they played the Bob Dylan classic "All Along the Watchtower" at a talent show in their first week at Oberlin College in the fall of 2003. They haven't stopped playing together since.
Sternberg and Jacobsen soon made a habit of regularly jamming outside of Barrows Hall with friends. Noseworthy and Atwood would regularly join them at this point, adding what they could given the constraints of a total lack of organization and equipment. Additionally, friends Daniel Grodnitzky (of the famous "Dan's Song" by another Oberlin Band, Jug Free America) and Evan "Bear" Kittay would make relatively frequent appearances with the group. Also central to the disorganization of the group at this point was djembe player Eli Awad '07, who picked up the drums one drunken evening with the crew. The first official performance occured when Atwood, Jacobsen, Noseworthy, Awad, Grodnitzky and friend Elsie White (Female Folk Vocalist and Guitarist) would play at an OPIRG sponsored event in November of that year. In the spring the group made its first official appearance as "Huzzah for the Shopkeep" with Jacobsen, Sternberg, and Awad, with friend Kittay on Bass.
Crucial during this developing period were exercises in keeping the group mind fresh and limber, as well as the influence of a Cleveland Folk artist "Gypsy" and the infamous Grateful Dead cover band The Sleeping Alligators among other campus bands. During Winter Term 2004, Jacobsen, and Noseworthy discussed the pipedream of turning the informal group into a proper band in a conversation over some whiskey. This concept and sentiment would later become the lyrics of the song "Pipedream". Upon Sternberg's return to campus in February, the band wrote its first two songs: "Getting By" and "Spirit Guide." As they continued to write, Jacobsen and Sternberg would generate the original music while Noseworthy wrote lyrics and helped structure the songs. The song "Pipedream" was written later when a stoned Noseworthy burst into Awad's room where Jacobsen was playing the guitar, thrust lyrics upon him, and proclaimed "Make It Music!". "This was sometime in March, I know, becuase I wrote the line 'longing for a barefoot warmhearted day' "- Noseworthy.
The band worked as a three to four-piece set until the 2004-2005 school year when they recruited friend Atwood on drum set, fulltime, and Jeremy Rockman '09 on bass. They plugged in their amps, and soon became a band known for playing both electric and acoustic sets.
The band changed again in the spring of 2005, when (later Headless Body in a Topless Bar and Quaalude City member) Jon Feinberg took over on bass after Rockman left the band for medical reasons. Feinberg would also sing, play some guitar, and write for the band. At this point, Huzzah! was regularly playing house parties and campus venues.
In the Fall of 2005 the band once again shifted its membership with the demands of the times. Long-time manager Noseworthy joined the band as a singer, as he finally got over his stage fright, just as Awad left to pursue other projects (i.e., homework). Friend Nicholas Lowery has been known to play fiddle during their accoustic shows. The band also added another dimension, with blues harpist Valdespino. Huzzah for the Shopkeep openned up the season with a grandiose gig at the S.S. YHWH, a benefit fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina aid. They also played their perennial Cat in the Cream gig, as well as other small occassions. In the spring of 2006 even more changes would come!
Members Jimmy Jim James Dean, Billy the Kid, and Suspicious Alowicious would venture to Europe to pursue "Academic Studies"...For Alowicious this would only increase the Spanish strummyness of his strummy style. For the Kid and JJJD, this would only provide a wealth of new influences and stories to weave into new works.
Meanwhile, on the home front, remaining members Little Jon, the Jester, and Harmonica Dan would form a side project, "The Electric Bugaloo", to keep themselves on the scene, playing house parties and recieving noise complaints. As it turned out, Harmonica Dan, in the words of the Jester "is a fine drummer", and so this new style would be added to Huzzah's ante.
In the summer of 2006 the Jester, the Kid, and Alowicious would meet, as tradition dictated, over bottles of burbon and music. The Jester would show the Kid a new riff that he had worked on in the Spring, and this would become the basis of the yet unamed Bm jam, which Huzzah has since played at 4 out of 5 shows in the fall of 2006. Members Noseworthy, Valdespino, and Sternberg would play as "Either Huzzah, or the Shopkeep" at the annual summer Bear-aroostockapalooza (or Beartopia). In August the Jester would also pick up the bass with Zen and the Art of Mayhem, who he has stuck with throughout the fall. Also in the spring/summer of 2006, Little Jon would play bass in an increasing number of shows with another campus band, Headless Body in a Topless Bar, fully committing to that group by the Fall of 2006.
Fall 2006-Spring 2007
In the fall of 2006, the group's first true Bassist, Jeremy Rockman, returned from leave, and thus has returned to the line-up. Harmonica Dan now switches off with Atwood on drums, allowing the group to cover a wealth of playing styles. Their first big gig of the year came with a free lunchtime preformance during Harvestfest, as they provided rootsy licks for a hungry public crowd gathered for a Co-op Iron Chef Competition. That evening they would play their traditional Cat show to a select crowd of those who were not already asleep from the afternoons excess. They played a TGIF show, ufortunately confined to the Sco' due to Ohio weather, and have continued the off campus party tradition, playing with such bands as The Sauce, the Hakeem Olajawon Trio, The Bucketkickers, The Trashbirds, and Zen and the Art of Mayhem. In January 2007 Suspicious Alowicious is hoped to synthesize the sounds of "Huzzah!" into either an EP or an LP, depending on the availability of other band members, recording staff, and appropriate equipment.
Friday, February 16, 2007 witnessed the glorious album release party for not only Huzzah for the Shopkeep! but also The Bucketkickers and Zen and the Art of Mayhem. Unfortunately, the tracks for each of the albums had not been mixed to the satisfaction of producer/superhero Brandon Smith (who undertook the task of recording and mixing all three bands). However, in addition to inspired performances from each band, the party was a great success thanks to the release of Huzzah for the Zen Bucket!, a compilation featuring six tracks previewing the upcoming full-length albums. Brandon Smith is currently hard at work putting the finishing touches on Oberlin's most concentrated explosion of local music in recent memory. Until then, stay tuned for more Huzzah goodness!
The pre-mixed tracks recorded by Grand Poo-bah Smith, select live tracks recorded by Alex Najman, and a Dueling Duet of Bonnie Prince Jon (Fienberg) and the Kid (Noseworthy) with both young gents on guitars and vocals, recorded in the Kid's room his second to last night in town are all available somewhere out there in the ether (available @http://www.reverbnation.com:80/vbillythekidt). Also, Fienberg's computer is known to house several hours of live tape from the Nut House Jam session- an open Jam at the senior year residence of Alouwiscious, the Jester, the Kid, and one, Uncle Sam Goodman. At this Jam a number of heads from the extended phamily of Huzzah presented their talents, busting out into a microphone hanging from the lamp fixture in the living room-surrounded by a sea of recently emptied bottles, smoke, and ash.
In the Spring of 2007, Jeremy announced that he foresaw that it was Huzzah!'s last chance to blow the fucking roof off the Oberlin Party scene. He set out with the goal of playing every weekend. And despite setting the record for most consecutive shut down parties, Huzzah managed to play an average of every other weekend, including a gig at the Oberlin Inn and the most rocking St. Patty's day party ever (at the Banana House- opening for the Flogging Molly cover band- The Rebels of the Drunken Flag). Unfortunately, JRock (Rockman) was not able to stay through commencement week. So, Huzzah played their last show in such form, in what felt like moments before JRock retreated to his summer residence. But of course, lack of a single member has never been an obstacle to Huzzah. They returned the very next weekend for yet another Banana House party- with Bonnie Prince Jon on bass. Huzzah's so called "Last Huzzah" was not so much a goodbye to the Oberlin scene- as a "See Y'all on the Flip Side"...when the Bucketkickers gave the call that they were ready to enter the stage- Huzzah played their "Last Song"- in true Huzzah form- this was a rocking-funkadelic-twenty minute blues-dance medley.
"The Last Huzzah!" May 2007
The Harmonica sounded-and it was time to go- the Jam began with "Don't Ease Me In"- a Huzzah staple, a traditional blues song that was adapted and recorded by the Grateful Dead some 40 years ago. The Kid busted his best cat calls-and Bonnie Prince Jon rocked the harmony on the chorus. But then the song was over- and the crowd double took as Jimmy Jim James Dean stole the beat-and our hearts-as he transitioned into the aptly named "2 Beers and a Bongrip". The kid continued his blues rap-backed by an excruciatingly funky beat produced by Jimmy, Bonnie Prince Jon, and the Jester. In between the vocal lines, there was the screeming duet of Harpist Dan, and in this case, definitely suspiscious Alouwiscious. Unsatisfied by such a simple jam- Jimmy smoothley transitioned the beat right in the rocking "Minglewood Blues"- another traditional blues number turned hard rock with the Huzzah touch. The Jester called out every line- and Bonnie Prince Jon and the Kid came in with the response. But then the vocalists were tired- but the drums just kept going- and what is any good musician to do? Well, inspired by Eli Awad (Bananna House Resident in Chief) who brought out his old Djembe and jumped on stage- all the guys put down their mics-guitars-and harps- and picked up DRUMZ! Within moments the band had transitioned 6- no...-7 part organic machine pulsating with the thump of "Jungle Funk", a Funk so unbearable that soon tired hands went back to their instruments of choice. But El Awad was unphased- he transitioned right into the beat of "Sympathy for the Devil"-a classic Stones tune. Again as the Jester called out the lead line- the rest of the band responded with the traditional falsetto "woo woo", as Alouwiscious struck out a solo line on the electric. But we couldn't hear all that-all we could hear was everyone calling out there own solo line along with the tune, and as the song closed, with the kid stretching out "it's, just, thee naturrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeee, offfffff, ourrrrrrr, gammeee" at the top of his lungs- the Jester thanked the phamily of Huzzah for their solid 4 years of service-and wished them a goodnight.
Those interested in "contracting" the band for a gig, accoustic or electric, are in luck as the band's tenure in Oberlin had expired...they are free to play in some form in any of the following locations!
-"The Kid's" new address is: email@example.com, having spent the year teaching English in Nam- he is now back and living in Brooklyn with the Jester. He recorded "Lee Hooker's Tears" a solo album in the fall of 2007, released in January 2008. He recorded "Orbits Ballz and Chainz" in 2008, released in January of 2009.
-Both Feinberg and James have manifested destiny, "Westward Ho!" and whatnot. Feinberg still writes from time to time. Jimmy has picked up the guitar, while crashing in Ithaca for a respit, playing mostly in open G, to counterbalance a rather traumatic experience in Los Angelas back in the fall of 2007. Feinberg lives in Nor Cal, and hits Hawaii every once in a while for some vacay. Jimmy has settled in San Fran, and continues to pick.
-Jester James sought milder climes to kick off his post-college years. Returning to the slums of Shaolin, he maintained (motherfuckers) a consistent level of underemployment from nearly a one-year! Stars aligned as they do from time to time, and the Jester moved to Brooklyn with Huzzah! devotee Caution Isoud and the Kid in August 2008, started working at a tutoring company and picks the rest of his days away into a bright and glorious future!
-Elias Awad worked as an Emergency Room Tech in upstate NY, near his hometown. He currently spends his days reading and playing the banjo. After taking the MCATS he has quit his job and after a brief visit in Oberlin is taking a road trip from Boston to NY down the coast and across the country! He made it out to the westward sun, and he took up residence out in San Fran with Jimmmy James Dean and his long time dame Ms. K.
-Both JRock and Valdespino have remained in Oberlin playing with long time Huzzah! phamily friend Ethan in a Grateful Dead cover band. Valdespino was featured on a 2008 release by Sternberg.
-Suspicious Alouwiscious spent the year in NY, living in Washington Heights, and then Crown Heights, with Bucket Kickers leadman Jon Good, he has since returned to Oberlin with girlfriend and fellow musician Danielle Kolker (see: the Trashbirds, the Drunk Punk Band). In 2008 he released "No Gods No Aplifier" an voluptuous snippet of accoustic punk covers, featuring Valdespino and Victor. Following Kolker's graduation in 2009, the couple embarked on a trip to the west coast then returned to their native New York where they reside in Prospect Lefferts Gardens Brooklyn and continue to make music as the Up Against the Wall String Band (but they're thinking of changing the name...)
-It has been rumored that they are the sole source of knowledge as to how the term "pony shot" originated. Referring to the infamous shot glass the Jester somehow noted in 2009 that..."You see you've got your big burley dudes that definitely rode in on a horse, so not to makes 'em churned up ya' gives them the horse shot, and then ya' got your frilly-shirted dandies, who walk in all strung out looking, like they were riding a damn half horse power for ten days in the saddle, so ya' gives them the pony shot!
-Shorty after this incident Huzzah meticulously reinvented the way you consume your alcohol. They arrived in partial form, sans Dean, Commencement 2009 Motherfunkers!
By the end of their career in Oberlin, Huzzah! successfully synthesized rock, blues, jam, bluegrass, folk, and punk styles into one loving jam. When covering, they had been known to play classic blues, The Band, The Grateful Dead, Ozzy Osbourne, String Cheese, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Neil Young, Warren Zevon and more...
A list of their original works includes the following, in approximate chronological order according to when they were first performed/written, numbers that have been recorded bear the year and album after the title:
- 1. Gettin' By (Blues) (2007: Pipedream)
- 2. Spirit Guide (2007: Pipedream)
- 3. Pipedream (2007: Pipedream)
- 4. Work Study Blues (2007: Pipedream)
- 5. Highway 91
- 6. Snowflake Song (Elias Awad)
- 7. The Path Beneath our Feet (Eli's Song)
- 8. 6000 Overlook Place (2007: Pipedream)
- 9. Visual Agnesia
- 10. JRock's Jam
- 11. Chris Burns (2007: Pipedream)
- 12. Mosul Motorcade (2007: Pipedream)
- 13. Dr. Moral
- 14. Rip Me
- 15. Whiskey From a Paper Cup
- 16. One Night Rodeo (2007: Lee Hooker's Tears)
- 17. One Toke at the Blues (More of a Bluegrass/Country Number really...) (2008: Orbits Ballz and Chainz)
- 18. She Don't Care When I Come (August 7th, 2009: YouTube Single Release)
- 19. A Time Long Ago
- 20. 2 Beers and a Bongrip ("Caught in the River") (2007: Pipedream)
- 21. Bm Jam (written to transition into "Hey Bulldog!" with all apologies to The Beatles) (2006: Pipedream)
- 22. Passing Out Standing
- 23. Sentayou (2007: Lee Hooker's Tears)
- 24. Windows Wall Off W/ A Wink (2007: Lee Hooker's Tears)
- 25. Mrs Jay (October 2nd, 2008: You Tube Single Release)
- 26. Suite Rosa
- 27. Am I Fuckin' Drinkin Down Toni(B Blues) (2007: Lee Hooker's Tears)
- 28. Sysiphus' Story (Ho Chi Minh Blues) (2008: Orbits, Ballz, and Chainz)
- 29. Ride on Israel
- 30. I Died w/the Blues (2007: Lee Hooker's Tears)
- 31. Catnappin'1+2 (2007: Lee Hooker's Tears) (April 8th 2009: YouTube Single Release)
- 32. When we were on: The Right Side of the Lawn (2008: Orbits, Ballz, and Chainz)
- 33. I Can't Live without the Thompson Gunner (Cover) (2008: Orbits, Ballz, and Chainz)
- 34. Ring of Fire (Cover) (September 2nd, 2008: YouTube Single Release)
- 35. Land of Prophecy
- 36. Minerettes and Noontime Tea (2008: Orbits, Ballz, and Chainz)
- 37. Wishin' Catfish
- 38. Jericho Hill
- 39. It Turns Me Blue (2008: Orbits, Ballz, and Chainz)
- 40. When We Were Off: Free Ride (2008: Orbits, Ballz, and Chainz)
- 41. Amineh (2009: The Whole Cycle)
- 42. Jesse James (Cover) (2009: The Whole Cycle)
- 43. From Rollin in Your Arms (Traditional: credit to The Grateful Dead) (2009: The Whole Cycle)
- 44. Two Times Twisted Tuesday Mornin
- 45. The Bakers Dirty Dozen New Hightop Bluegrass Band
- 46. The Chinatown Express Flyer
- 47. Turn The Page (Cover: Bob Seger) (March 31st, 2009: YouTube Single Release)
- 48. Stage Fright (Cover: The Band) (March 31st, 2009: YouTube Single Release)
- 49. Beauty in the Brick (2009: The Whole Cycle)
- 50. Old Cowboy (Traditional: credit to Johnny Cash) (2009: The Whole Cycle)
- 51. Oh Death: "Death Plea" and "Death Reply" (Traditional: credit to Ralph Stanely) (2009: The Whole Cycle)
- 52. Secondier (2009: The Whole Cycle) (June 26th, 2009: YouTube Single Release)
- 53. Run Back Home (2009: The Whole Cycle)
Despite their current semi-diasporic state, the band promises to return to the Mt. Zion of the amateur and young professional music scene when Babylon falls...as in hopefully this spring. However, you can catch these boys playin' their hearts out wherever they lay their heads. It's just up to you to find 'em.