Led by the enthusiastic lead vocalist Eugene Snowden and funky electric guitarist Brian Chodorcoff, the classy soul 'n' rock revue The Legendary J.C.'s steep their classic rock music in swing, boogie, and heavy rhythm 'n' blues to create some hot stuff. It's all been documented on a brand-new, independently-released double-disc collection.
"This band is very much a live band," says Chodorcoff, speaking by phone from their home base in Orlando. "It's very much about the live show. We feed off the people and they feed off of us."
The J.C.'s (a.k.a. The Legendary Joint Chiefs) are comprised primarily of longtime musicians from the Orlando scene — "scene-shaping veterans whose resumes burst with both major label and indie level touring and recording experience," as they put it.
"Almost none of us grew up in Florida," says the guitarist. "Somehow or another, we all relocated here during the 1990s or so. I'm originally from West Orange, N.J. It's easier to make a living down here doing what we do than it is up North."
Snowden, Chodorcoff, bassist Ralph Ameduri, keyboardist Jack Stirling, sax player Brian Mackie, harmonica player Chris Bell, trombone player Clay Watson, and newly-enlisted drummer Anthony Cole (of the Nat King Cole lineage) return this week for some high-jumping jams in celebration of the release of The Legendary J.C.'s Live: Open Day And Night.
"We were starting to get some slack because it had been over two years since we released a full-length album," Chodorcoff says. "We spend so much time as a touring band — it's a full-time gig when we're on the road, but most of us are working the day jobs and dealing with families when we get home, too. It's tight, so it's been really difficult for all of us to get into a studio. We had a bunch of new songs that had not been recorded, plus dozens of older tunes that had become staples of the show, so we decided to do a big double live record."
2004's terrific debut, The Church Of What's Happenin' Now, grooved with a funky vibe and helped spread the "J.C.'s gospel." Making stops in Charleston during numerous regional supporting tours in 2005 and '06, the band earned a big thumbs-up from local faves who raved about the solid, energetic, inspiring performances.
The Legendary J.C.'s Live: Open Day And Night, recorded last July at The Social in Orlando, is a 19-song collection comprised mostly of original songs penned by Snowden and Chodorcoff. Special surprises include snappy renditions of classics by Etta James, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding. Singers Sunny Raskin and Swamburger (of Sol.iLLaquists Of Sound) step in as featured guests. The album demonstrates the ease with which the group mix their styles — the choppy funk, velvety soul, and swingin' old-time rock 'n' roll.
"It's the natural sound of the band," Chodorcoff. "Gene and I had a really different idea of what to do with it when we first got together. We had been playing in different local bands and we decided to put a soul band together to play some of the Motown cafés around town. Soon after, we realized it was really a rock group. We could call it whatever we wanted, but it was kind of uncontainable, in a sense. We were not going to play those Otis Redding songs like the Otis Redding records. We'd been influenced by so many things, it just happened naturally. We all listened to hundreds of different records growing up and we've all played in various bands before. Not to sound too cliché, but the J.C.'s are a bunch of old good friends who do what we love when we get together."