Side Hustle Meets Us on ‘Common Ground’
Most of us non-Jacksonvillians (that second ‘i’ is very important) first encountered Side Hustle at the 2018 edition of Orange Blossom Jamboree just a year ago. At the time, we wrote:
Once again, the day began with a bang with another band we didn’t know: Side Hustle. The Jacksonville quartet played a great set of originals and covers, reminding me by turns of early Lotus and George Benson jazz and rock with great jams. They began with six fine originals including “Work with What You Got” and “Freedom 35.” The latter provided a dance jam intro into a torrid “Another Brick in the Wall,” but that paled compared to MJ’s “Dirty Diana,” and the “Sledgehammer” closer had everyone dancing.
Side Hustle are: Anton Laplume, guitar, vocals; Billy Begley, keyboards; Sean Thomas, bass, vocals; and Aaron Plotz, drums.
This Friday (May 17), Side Hustle will blow up the Zombie Stage at OBJ 10 (4:35-6:00). And it’s likely we’ll hear most of the tunes from their outstanding EP Common Ground, released last November. First, we are blessed now with impeccable recording environments and near-perfect audio products every time bands release new music. Common Ground is absolutely a case in point, sonically superb.
Also, the playing of this quartet is just so clean, so clear, truly making for optimal listening. You can hear every note of Laplume’s guitar, feel every not of Thomas’ fat, fat bass. Begley’s keyboards, primarily organ, are front and center on every song, and Plotz is clearly directing traffic from behind his drum kit.
“Work With What You Got” jumps out at you immediately, organ and fat bass punctuated by Plotz’ drums. Thomas’s voice is so smooth, and the harmonies with Laplume are delicious. Thomas’ bass lines during Begley’s first organ romp are magnificent.
“Common Ground” is even more uptempo, bouncing along on top of Begley’s organ. And, like “Work With What You Got,” the message here is so positive and so on point. They regard themselves as a “deep-groove, rock, soul and funk group” with a “dash of jazz thrown in,” and they back it up live and here on their EP. For this tune and the next two, Laplume takes lead vocal, with Thomas harmonizing.
“Fly Back Home” is light and airy, introduced by a simple drum beat and engaging guitar figure. These songs incorporate the best elements of pop into their genre-spanning formats. Halfway through the track, propulsive drums encourage a fine guitar solo before the song settles back to the head before a fine coda.
“Promise Land” is more ambitious, as a repetitive guitar figure leads to some beautiful piano before the vocals enter. Begley shifts to synths for the choruses. The instrumental break gets all jamtronic with spacey synths wrapping themselves around the guitar, space bass and drums.
The final song is an unabashed joyous romp, a wonderful feel-good tune titled “Freedom 35.” It begins bouncy with a wonderful piano trio from Begley, Thomas and Plotz providing the perfect rhythm track. Halfway through the song, Begley bounces through a wonderful piano solo, followed by arguably Laplume’s best effort on guitar.
Catch this fine quartet Friday at OBJ or on the road! And check out Common Ground.
05/17 Zombie Stage | Orange Blossom Jamboree | Brooksville FL
05/26 Nighthawks | Jacksonville FL w/ The Quickening
05/31 Bottom’s Up Public House | Fort Pierce FL
06/21 Ambrose Set | Asheville NC
06/27 Tiki Hut | Hilton Head Island SC
06/29 Fox’s Lair at Olde Town Inn | Augusta GA
06/30 RoCo – Roasting Company | Rock Hill SC