Jonathan Scales steals the show

By Katie Finlon

It’s day six of a 20-day tour.

“And we already hate each other,” Jonathon Scales said with a joking smirk.

The Jonathon Scales Fourchestra performed 5 p.m. Sunday at the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

The only problem with this band? It’s a fourchestra with three musicians.

The Fourchestra isn’t a stranger to the NIU campus—the band played as a guest artist with the NIU Steel Band for their concert last spring.

The band consists of Scales on steel pan, Cody Wright on bass guitar and Phill Bronson on drum set.

Scales began as a saxophonist and then was introduced to steel pan—particularly the double-seconds steel pan—later in his music education. After hearing him play in his band, one would never guess that he had such humble beginnings on pan.

Wright had a tongue-in-cheek quality to his riffs. While he was shredding like it was nobody’s business, he would also incorporate phrases from songs like “Dueling Banjos” and the theme from The Simpsons in his solos.

Personally, I laughed. I received many strange looks from innocent non-music major bystanders after recognizing said licks.

Obviously, Wright has a well-received musical sense of humor.

Not to say the band as a whole didn’t have a sense of humor—Scales even prefaced the beginning of a piece by saying he likes to play this particular game with his audiences. He began his game, or improvisation, with the phrase, “Your mama don’t allow bass playin’ ‘round here,” and the band would create an entire piece around that phrase.

Whether it be bass playin’, kick drum or drum solo, the sentiment was still the same—they did what they wanted anyway.

At one point, Scales said your mama don’t allow sixteen bars of silence around here, and then he did 16 bars of dead silence anyway.

Yet again, I couldn’t stop laughing.

However, thinking of his audience, Scales said he purposefully created another DeKalb gig in his tour so that the students of NIU won’t have to trek to Chicago.

Next stop—Indianapolis, Ind.; Akron, Ohio; and then New York City.

When asked about his impression of the performance, graduate steel pan performance student Barry Mannette’s first word was “awesome.”

“I just like his music, and his ideas are very different,” Mannette said. “He thinks and plays out of the box.”

Overhearing Mannette, senior steel pan performance major Mike Schwebke retaliated with:

“He was never in the box.”

I couldn’t agree more.