Odd pairing clicks

DJ Logic finds things hum with harmonica player Popper, and a band results

October 19, 2006|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun Reporter

Even before they first shared a stage, DJ Logic knew he wanted to work with Blues Traveler front man John Popper.

He got his chance in 2003. When the two first performed together in San Francisco, Logic accompanied Popper for two sets. The gig sparked an interest that later led them to form the John Popper Project, record and release an album and start touring. Saturday, they play the 8x10.

"[Popper] thought it'd be cool to try something different," said Logic, aka Jason Kibler. "We basically just bumped heads and kicked it off real good - what we really wanted to do."

Though the two might seem like an odd musical couple, Logic has made a career out of unlikely partnerships like this one. He recorded his scratching and samples with jazz trio Medeski, Martin and Wood and guitarist Vernon Reid to much critical acclaim. Years before their first gig, Logic thought Popper, who plays harmonica and guitar, would make a fresh, inspiring teammate.

"He brings a lot of creativity and a lot of different colors," Logic said. "I never worked with a harmonica player. Coming from his experience and his talent and just his whole vibe, it was just a pleasure to work with him."

Logic and Popper started gigging around New York City accompanied by Blues Traveler bassist Tad Kinchla and Mosaic drummer Marcus Bleeker. At first, the shows were mostly improvisational, instrumental jam sessions at clubs such as the Knitting Factory.

Songs took shape from these shows, and Popper composed melodies and lyrics for them, Logic said. The band recorded its self-titled debut in only two weeks, he said. They played live in the studio and then added overdubs on top, which gave most of the songs a thick, layered feel. It was released early this month.

"We just wanted to make it sound fat and funky and come with some different sounds and colors and textures," Logic said. "Have everything answer itself, each color to blend nicely and all make sense, and it did."

On "Everything," the album's second track, Popper blows distorted harmonica riffs while Logic scratches. Other tracks feature combinations of Bleeker's live drumming and Logic's preprogrammed beats.

"That gives it the fatness and some extra seasoning," Logic said. "Kind of makes the drums sound a little rawer and gives them that funk."

The band has gigs lined up through early November, but Logic would like to add more and, if possible, go back into the studio to start a follow-up.

"This record was a great record to work on, the way it came together, all good vibes, even in the studio, from the beginning to the end," Logic said. "I would love to see another record and more touring."

The John Popper Project plays the 8x10 Saturday. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. The venue is at 8-10 E. Cross St. For more information, call 410-625-2000 or go to the8x10.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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