Tampa, Florida (July 27, 2018) – Blacktop Mojo with special guests, Aegea, Oxmoore, Rising Down, Murder the Crow, and M99, performed at the Crowbar in Tampa, FL tonight. Splice was there to capture the action.
The crowd is starting to build, and people are buzzing about the show tonight. As members of the band head from the venue to their tour bus, people lean towards each other say “I think that was them!” excitedly. Who is everyone here to see? It’s the hot new band Blacktop Mojo. As the crowd starts the come in people either head to the bar or right to the stage to stake claim on a prime spot to catch the show. Not only will this crowd get to see the headliner, Blacktop Mojo, but there will also be five other local bands sharing the stage as well.
The first band to take the stage was Aegea. Featuring Chris Coleman on vocals, Johnny Chase on guitars, Brandon Bowers on drums, and Spence Howard on bass. While they had a short set, they made the most of it, and rocked out pretty hard.
The next band up was Oxmoore. This high energy trio features Austin Garrett on vocals and guitar, Jake Lawson on drums, and Brandi Harrell on bass. Again, they also had a short set; that’s to be expected when there are five opening acts! This indie/alternative act certainly put on a good show too!
Following Oxmoore was Rising Down. They are comprised of Ric Van Epps on drums, Chris Martinez on guitars, Sammy White the vocalist, and Bryant Harp on bass.
After they were done it was time for Murder the Crow to take the stage. Featuring Tyler on guitars and vocals, David on bass, and Sven on drums, these guys put on a fun show. Sven, the drummer, was entertaining to watch!
The final support band of the night was M99. This group is made up of Ash Canzie and Shawn Hannigan sharing vocal duties, Ryan Morse and Cristofer Williams both on guitars, Seph Pyle on bass, and Gary Miller on drums. When they took to the stage, they had a ton of energy! Both singers gave their all, with hair flying and leaving everything they had on the stage!
Finally, it was time for the band everyone was there to see perform, Blacktop Mojo. This hard-driving rock band from Texas blends grunge, classic rock, and metal into something all their own. In 2012 Frontman Matt James, met drummer, Nathan Gillis. Eventually, guitarist Ryan Kiefer, bassist Matt Curtis, and guitarist Chuck Wepfer joined Matt and Nathan to round out the group. In 2014 they released their first album I Am, then in 2017, they followed it up with their sophomore effort Burn the Ships.
When they hit the stage, it was with the confidence of seasoned pros. The first song they played shared names their second album Burn the Ships. After this, they ripped through “End of Days”, “Trouble On the Rise”, “Open Road”, and “Sweat”. The whole time they played, they used every inch of the set. These guys redefine the term high energy! At this point in the show, most of the band took a break, leaving James and Curtis on stage. When Curtis picked up an acoustic guitar, James reminisced about singing around the campfire, and with that, he asked the audience to form a circle and sit down. Then they both hopped off stage, sat with the audience and had everyone singing along with them while they played an awesome cover of the Phil Collins hit “In The Air Tonight”. When they went back on stage, if you thought the acoustic stuff was over, you were wrong. They proceeded to play a beautiful version of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Life By the Drop”. For me, these two songs were the highlight of the night as it was great to see such a high energy band slow things down and have a genuine moment with the audience. Now it was time to pick things back up as the rest of the band got back on stage.
The next songs they played were “Where the Wind Blows”, “All Mine”, “Won’t Last”, and “Pyromaniac”. Finally, it was time for the last song of the night, and it was a cover of the Aerosmith classic “Dream On”. This is one difficult song for any band to attempt. But James knocked it out of the park. He hit every note, and the band made that song their own.
Tampa was lucky to have one hell of a night of hard driving rock n’ roll. From the raw energy and passion of the five opening bands to an absolutely amazing new band in Blacktop Mojo, this was a night to remember. If there was one defining thing about tonight’s show, it is that the future of rock music is very bright. The brightest of them all was Blacktop Mojo, this is a band that everyone should be keeping an eye on!
Before tonight’s show, We had a chance to talk with Matt James the lead singer for Blacktop Mojo. Here is what he had to say:
What got you started in music?
I always had a guitar in the corner of my bedroom growing up. I was in youth group in church and we were at this lady’s house for youth group and she had a little guitar in the corner. She was giving us a tour of the house and I got lost on the tour because I picked up that guitar and sat down and started picking around on it. I didn’t know what I was doing. She came back and found me and said why don’t you bring the guitar outside. So, I spent the whole barbecue picking on the guitar. That night when I went to give it back to her, she said why don’t you keep it, no one has played it that much in the last 20 years. So, I learned how to play chords and stuff on that guitar. I fell in love with writing songs and here we are now!
Once you got that guitar, you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I don’t know if it was right then, but I fell in love with writing songs. I knew I liked doing that. So, it started as a hobby. The more I got to doing it and playing in front of people, I really liked the feeling.
What’s been your favorite band that you’ve toured with?
It would be a tie between Shamans Harvest and Blackstone Cherry. Both of those groups of guys have treated us real well.
You’ve toured with some very big Bands. What have you learned from touring with them?
To be humble and be cool. It’s all about having a good time. That is the whole point of this.
What is rock n’ roll to you?
What is rock n’ roll to me? It’s freedom. It’s freedom to do what you want. I don’t have a boss that tells me when to wake up in the morning.
You named your most recent album Burn the Ships. This is about the explorers that came to this country and the crew wanted to retreat so the leaders said Burn the ships. All this means you can’t retreat. So what ships did you burn?
Two weeks before we recorded that album, everyone quit their jobs, and we all moved into a house together. So, we kind of burned all of life’s bridges. We cut all ties and went all in.
Did it feel like the right move?
Ya, it was scary as hell. But looking back on it it’s been really cool. We’ve been doing it for two years.
If you could collaborate with someone out of rock who would it be?
Ummm Erykah Badu. I like her voice a lot.
Do you think your voice would work well with hers?
Maybe, it would be more about my voice working with hers(laughing)
You are from Texas where there is a lot of country music. Your style is hard rock and grunge. How did you evolve from that atmosphere?
We started out playing in honky tonks and dance halls. We were playing covers a lot. Playing four or five-hour sets learning how to play in front of people. When we started to write our own original stuff, it was hard rock. We had to draw a line in the sand. We started to branch out and go to Dallas, Houston, Austin. Some of the bigger cities that had rock clubs. Kind of going to where we could play, Nashville, New York, Kansas. Just one-off weekend warrior type of stuff. It just evolved from there.
What do you think has been your big break so far?
We made our own big break when everyone quit their jobs. It allowed us to do music full time and tour around. It allowed us to put everything we had into this.
If you weren’t going to be a musician what would you be doing?
I don’t have an answer for that. There is no plan B. This is plan A, B, C, everything
Thank you for your time and I’m Looking forward to tonight’s show!
Thank you, man!!