While each Calmodee band member has a history in the Bay Area music scene longer than Santa’s list, they came together ‘to do this new thing’ due to newfound enthusiasm and a call to streamline. As MC Triple says, ‘We found people we like working with, people that have skills, and we come together and it’s like Voltron! Everyone brings their own little thing.’
Calmodee, an experimental hip hop group from Oakland, had been an idea in the making for a while.
The band as it stands now is only about four months old, says Triple (aka Lexxx Luthor), but was an idea originally discussed in 2007 when drummer Lex Razon and Triple met at a Raw Deluxe show, a Bay Area jazz group Triple was a member of.
‘We both had a problem because both of our bands were so huge (Single was playing with the group Vinyl, and Triple was with Raw Deluxe). It was like a big incestuous family and we thought it would be nice to do something more compact,’ says Triple.
Along with Razon, aka Single (drums), and Triple (MC), Calmodee also has Mic Blake (MC), Sanford Barnett (jazz guitar), and Andre Marshall (bass). The cut-and-dried standard bio definition of their sound is ‘layers of beats, guitar and bass mesh with lyrics and samples creating a heavy groove.’ After giving them a listen, it’s easy to feel your body moving to the smooth jazz and energetic hip hop, reminding you of a sound Huggy Bear would enjoy – slick and clean. Lyrics range from relevant (hoping for better days despite white collar criminals and cognizant ex-presidents) to sexy (have a listen to ‘Drip Drip’). All things considered, these ingredients sound just as, if not more, enticing and unique as the food served alongside the standard jazz licks played at Moody’s.
‘The music is basically a culmination of us all,’ Triple says. ‘Sanford plays a lot of jazz licks. Guitar, jazz, and bass music are the melody. We do a lot of funk bass lines, but we also do a lot of improv stuff. Mic and I grew up in freestyle and it helps us break the ice. If it’s a crowd that is more into a jazz thing, we both have wireless mics and it allows us to get into the crowd.
(It) shows people you are doing something creative and off the top of your head.’
Single (whose name differentiates him from Triple’s three-x Lexxx) puts it this way: ‘It’s more like a trio, with two MCs.’
The jazz/hip hop mixture gently turns the hip hop-unacquainted into fans.
‘Mic and I have been doing this genre for 20 years now and the thing is, we get people who aren’t into rap and think it’s all about grabbing your crotch and bitches and ho’s,’ Triple says. ‘We are actual music.’
Calmodee gets their name from famed east-coast rapper Kool Mo’ Dee. A former member of Calmodee helped them develop their name as a sort of tribute to Kool, but ‘with a west coast vibe,’ says Triple. ‘It’s like we’ve rebranded Kool Mo’ Dee into having an overdose of calm; sit back, relax, have fun with us, and overdose on having so much fun hanging out with us.’
Even if you haven’t heard of Calmodee yet, you may have heard of Vinyl, Alphabet Soup, or the Mo’fessionals – all groups that members of Calmodee have played with.
In regards to the two upcoming shows, Single tells me, ‘It’s a public service we are providing of good music to dance your ass off to so come Thanksgiving you can be a total glutton and not feel guilty.’
I say the only way you’ll feel guilty is if you miss this show. See the ‘trio with two MCs’ Nov. 20 and 21 at 8:30 p.m., Moody’s Bistro and Lounge, 10007 Bridge St, Truckee, 530-587-8688, moodysbistro.com, calmodee.com.
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