The LACS, Big Smo, Demun Jones

Sam Galloway Ford Concert Series present

The LACS, Big Smo, Demun Jones

Demun Jones

Sat October 21, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 11:59 pm)

The Ranch Concert Hall & Saloon

Fort Myers, FL

$25.00 - $30.00

Off Sale

This event is 18 and over

The LACS
The LACS
"People still can't figure out what to call the music we do," said Brian 'Rooster' King, looking at his longtime collaborator Clay 'Uncle Snap' Sharpe. "We just get in there and write about what we want." The duo has been together since 2000 and Outlaw, which is their fifth album since signing with Average Joe's Entertainment, is a watershed effort from The LACS that sonically broadens their musical scope and blends together every genre from traditional country and southern rock to rap and spoken word. But it's their true-to-life lyrics that paint a series of authentic compositions depicting the life of a pair of rednecks from South Georgia. "We love writing about stories that we've lived," said King, of their biographical 12-song effort that could prove to be a breakthrough of sorts. Label it however you choose. They call it country.

Baxley, a slow-moving rural town of just over 4,000 residents, where Sharpe grew up a country boy, is a place where everyone knows everyone else's business and newcomers are known as outsiders. There's one elementary school, one high school and, until recently, only three red lights. "Now we got a fourth and a Wal-Mart," said Sharpe, "so, yeah, we're stepping up." Both his parents worked and, as a young boy, he'd tag along with his old man and spend summer days hanging out on construction sites, while listening to a local country radio station.

Those early formative years is when Sharpe's love of country music developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, it wasn't until he was 20 when a then-18 year old King moved with his family from Waycross to Baxley that The LACS first met up. They liked a lot of the same music – Garth Brooks and George Strait, Pink Floyd and Metallica along with Tupac and Nelly – and as quickly as they befriended one another they started writing lyrics as if they had been kindred spirits since childhood. King was a self-taught guitarist and the two fast-friends pooled their money together to buy a cheaper version of a beat box they still use when they perform on stage today.

In 2001, they saved up another $2,500 to pay for 40 hours of studio time – half of which they spent recording their first self-titled album and the other half of the time was used to mix and master – and 1,000 copies of the CD to sell in parking lots and parties. Over time they built up a cult following of fellow rednecks and hillbillies and eventually drew the attention of Average Joe's.

Last fall they released their fourth album and this spring the prolific songsmiths are already back with yet another studio album, which features the first single God Bless a Country Girl. "It's a fun little song," said King. Sharpe and King have matured personally and especially professionally since the first time they plugged a $7 microphone into a boom box, which still says a lot about their authentic writing process.

Then and now, The LACS enter the studio with half the album written and then finish the second half of the writing process while recording the first half. Their fans, who both King and Sharpe describe as rowdy, loud, hardworking rednecks, have come to expect songs about the south – beer drinking, mud bogging and more drinking – that remind them of their own lives. "Brian and I have prided ourselves on putting out real music that we lived," Sharpe concluded, "and not just writing about some topic because it was a No. 1 for somebody else."
Big Smo
Big Smo
“This album is definitely about growth.”
So says Smo, whose growth as a force in American music cannot be denied. Having topped 50 million views on YouTube, sold more than 450,000 tracks and dominated both the country and rap charts, the charismatic Tennessee-bred artist, outdoorsman and family man draws fans from across all social boundaries.
How does he do it? He speaks truth. He lays down epic rhymes that challenge listeners to party when they can, to champion the values on which they were (or should have been) raised, to look straight into the eyes of life, to laugh and love and even get angry every once in a while if that helps make things right.
These many sides of Smo are represented proudly on his latest album. Yes, We The People is about growth, in creative horizons as well as in a worldview nurtured by time and trial. But it’s also about the growth it inspires among his ever-expanding audience, who see their own stories mirrored in his.
“I see things today in a clearer way than I ever have, as a father, as a son, as an American,” Smo insists. “It’s about that growth for me as an individual and hoping I can influence my listeners to grow with me.”
From working dawn to dusk on his family farm to riding border to border on his bus, from meeting and entertaining his fans, aka “Kinfoke,” from fusing elements of raw country and hip-hop in a makeshift studio to the private moments he shares via his “Smo On The Go” video posts on Facebook, Smo incorporates all that has come his way into a unique and personal sound.
A new and especially difficult turn impacted Smo’s approach to music and life in general. Last year Smo underwent quadruple bypass surgery, an experience that can’t help but change those who survive.
“When you’re facing death and you’re given a second chance with life, you find that you value that life much more,” he reflects. “I’ve been guilty in the past of taking the simple things for granted. Today I stand here, clear-minded, with my eyes set on my target.”
Smo addresses this in his “manifesto,” a creed laying the foundation for the album. It pulses throughout We The People, in the empowering proclamation of the title track, the determination to succeed that drives “Say My Name,” the spice and sass that conjures P-Funk on a backwoods parade with “Struttin’ In The Stix,” an irresistible call to rock the house from “sunup to last call” on “Retox”…
And then there are bases Smo has never touched until now, including a gentle love lyric framed by string quintet on “Thing For You” and his first duet with a female singer: Josie Dunne as the girl waiting for her traveling love on “Never Get Old.”
“Getting the opportunity to work with Josie was a blessing for me,” Smo says. “In fact, it’s a blessing for me to work with all of the singers on this album rather than the other way around. When Casey Beathard and I cut the demo for ‘We The People’ and he sang the chorus, his voice was just so majestic that I knew that no one else could fill that position. My longtime friend and backup singer Haden Carpenter has just the right amount of funk and country for ‘Struttin’ In The Stix.’ We had Michael Ray on ‘Rollin’,’ a phenomenal artist and a dear friend. William Michael Morgan is amazing. There’s so much old country in this young man’s voice. You don’t find that a lot nowadays. Plus Corey Crowder, Todd Nielson, Hookman, Brandon Rogers, Jimmy Burney … Being able to work with each of these great talents wasn’t really work at all.”
Smo gives much of the credit for bringing We The People home to his producer.
“There’s a reason why you haven’t heard a production like this on my past projects,” he says. “It’s because of my good friend Jason Mater. Our creative process was like, as soon as I thought of an idea, he was already playing it. I wanted to test the boundaries and really dig into the multi-genre experience. As soon as my manager Dan Nelson and I heard what Jason was capable of, we knew he was the guy for the job.”
You can hear the fruits of their collaboration from the opening track’s mock-inaugural of Smo as “our Commander in Chief” to the uplifting closer, “My Kind America.” One clear example is “Movin’ On Up,” an affirmation of hard work and harvest it yields, built on a handclap gospel beat that keeps peaking to the edge of explosion and then backing off.
Why this groove tease? Smo smiles and explains, “We talked about how every day we work to achieve the top goal we set. Then as soon as we achieve that goal, we set another one. And when we reach it, we set another one. We never really reach the top because once we get to what we think is the top, we set standards for our next level.
“So,” he concludes, “we don’t have to get to some exploding point because we’re never gonna feel like we can stop and quit working. For us, that point doesn’t exist.”
Which takes us back to that idea about growing, about how Smo sees himself and the world that motivates him to work and perform and connect and lift it all just a bit higher tomorrow. If We The People is about setting down his beliefs and what he’s learned, then the last track is about wrapping it all up and offering it to his kinfoke.
“‘My Kind America’ is at the end for a good reason,” he says. “I began with ‘We The People’ to get listeners thinking about this album. It’s about finding the things that make us who we are as Americans. It’s about loving. It’s a reminder that, hey, even though we’re going through hard times and people are feeling a certain way about other people, we’re fortunate to wake up every day in this country where you can stand up for your belief. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines and do nothing. Don’t put all of your energy into complaining about how things are. Get up and do something about it.
“Make this Your Kind America.”
Demun Jones
Demun Jones
DEMUN JONES has always had a way of keeping it real when it comes to the music he has written, recorded and performed throughout his career, but, that said, JONES COUNTY might well be the most genuine collection of songs that represents who the Georgia native is and certainly illustrates the place where he’s lived his entire life.
Asked how the songs for his forthcoming solo project came about, Demun said, “I went out in my front yard and imagined what are they doing? What are they thinking? What are they going to do? What do I see?”
Life in Jones County, which is just north of Macon, is southern and some, including the Jones family, will say they’re rednecks. They drive trucks. They fish and hunt. They like keeping things simple—sort of a what-you-see is what-you-get type of place. All the same, Jones County is what you hear and Demun is hoping people who are from there will respect and love his latest collection of 12 songs, while people who aren’t from around those parts will be “captivated by it and want to listen to it.”
Demun – a nickname he earned at a young age because he was aggressive and energetic – was 10 years old when he was transfixed by the immergence of N.W.A. and how they represented their own hometown. He’s never forgotten how that seminal album affected a southern boy down in Georgia. He’s always wanted to do the same for Jones County.
“I’ve had inspirations that cover the whole gamut of genres,” Demun said.
His musical influences are not all southern or country.
His oldest brother Chris introduced him to Led Zeppelin along with AC-DC and Black Sabbath, while his mother Cheryl introduced him to the likes of Marvin Gaye and other Motown acts, including James Brown and Michael Jackson. A ranch owned by Otis Redding is right down the road from where Jones grew up the son of a lifelong brick mason worker. He was the third of six children, who spent their hot summer days playing football in the front yard and frog hunting in a creek behind a hayfield that surrounded their modest home.
His uncles introduced him to the southern rock soundscape of The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Back then Demun wasn’t a singer, but he knew at a young age he wanted to do something musical. He started listening to hip hop and rap and was intrigued by breakdancing. That’s when he heard N.W.A. That album was about Compton, for Compton and the whole world took notice.
It was a musical documentary – sort of a bird’s eye view of life – that Demun wanted to portray in his own autobiographical song selection for Jones County.
“It gave me some hope that I could make my own music,” said Demun, who wrote his first song when he was 15. “It took a long time for me to realize I could make country music without singing the whole time and still be for the country person.”
And that is exactly what Demun, whose vocal delivery is as intense as it is distinct, set out to accomplish with Jones County.
The challenge was infusing his country inspired lyrics with hip hop grooves.
Demun said the creative process often began with a drum beat or chord progression on the guitar, while – thematically speaking – each story was influenced by characters (friends, family and actual folks from the heart of Georgia) and the very experiences Demun had come across throughout his life growing up and living in Jones County, Georgia.
“I tried to focus on music that was for people I grew up around,” he said.
No song is more familiar to him on Jones County than I’m a Man, which he co-wrote with the guys from I4NI and Jon Conner. It’s about his father Ricky, 61, who has been laying bricks past 49 years. It’s about hard work, ethics and honesty, but, more importantly, Demun said, “He’s always wanted me to sing on a song and this is one of the first, you know what I’m saying, and it’s about him.”
Demun added, “I had to do to it once I heard the demo and I did what I had to do to pull it off.”
He’s already filmed a video for Tannerite – the lone fictional tale of what happens when some southern boys are playing with explosives and what occurs when they come across a Sasquatch – and Boondocks is another tune that’s all-too-familiar to Jones and a legion of rednecks that Jones County speaks to.
It’s an actual place in Georgia, where Demun shot The Muddy Muddy video, in a 1,000-acre field in front of 5,000 people. “That’s when I really understood who I was speaking to with my direction,” said Demun, who went there to film a video and was so affect by the experience he wrote an entire song about it. It had rained all week leading up to the Fourth of July video shoot, but the weather was nice by show time and, of course, muddy.
“It was redneck heaven,” Demun proclaimed.
For Demun, Jones County is a great place to live and Jones County the album finally illustrates his evolution as a person – he’s married and the father of two girls, 3 and 4 – and as an artist. It’s all part of the freedom of expression that comes with writing songs for a solo project.
“It came natural once the process started,” Demun concluded. “Jones County was the easiest album and the easiest songs I’ve written in my life.”
These songs might have come naturally to him, but Demun has been playing music for a long time – including a 10-year stint as a member of Rehab – and it’s taken all that time for him to get to a point where he can write songs that represent his life as it is today.
He extensively toured with Rehab band mate Danny Boone and co-wrote a lot of the Rehab material, including the critically acclaimed songs for Welcome Home. He also co-wrote Welcome 2 Jawga with the Jawga Boyz, who made an appearance on Jones County as do Charlie Farley, Bubba Sparxx and Locash Cowboys.
Demun’s first mainstream credit as a songwriter came on title track of Colt Ford’s popular Ride Through the Country, which also featured John Michael Montgomery.
—BY KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Venue Information:
The Ranch Concert Hall & Saloon
2158 Colonial Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL, 33907
http://theranchfortmyers.com/