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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Jross Green rocks with debut CD


By Ted Slowik

One of my favorite local writers has just released his debut CD, and I've enjoyed listening to it several times over the past week. Jross Green's self-titled collection of 12 tracks rocks with the raw energy of loud guitars and at times bounces with hip hop-like grooves.

Jross (John) Green celebrated the release with a show May 24 at Chicago Street Pub in Joliet. The live lineup showcased the tight rhythm section of drummer Chad Payne and bassist Brian Ward. Later in the week, I caught up with the guys at their Bolingbrook studio, the HaHa Hut, where their tracks were recorded and mixed. (I uploaded a short video clip of one of their songs here.)


Make no mistake: As home recording efforts go, this one is top-notch. The sound is professional quality, the production is excellent and the performances and arrangements are immensely entertaining. Songwriting credit is shared by Green, 40, a New Lenox native, and Payne. Green writes the lyrics and melodies, and Payne takes the lead on arranging and producing the material.

The songs tell stories that range from"Bank," a wildly imaginative tale of a horny, double-crossing Bonnie and Clyde-like couple to "Pops," which sounds like an autobiographical story of a hard-drinking father. "Pops" seems rooted in reality because it mentions actual watering holes like The White Horse in New Lenox. (Green says his father passed away in 2003.)

The first three-fourths collection are guitar-driven tunes that showcase Green's edgy personality.

"We are the middle children in history, raised on television having these dreams, but someday we're gonna be millionaires or movie stars," he sings on "Millionaires." As a lyricist, Green can sometimes seem intent on shaking his listeners out of their complacency.

But what makes this collection especially appealing is the thread of infectious melodies. Take "Momma" for example. It's hard to listen to this CD and not walk around for days on end humming the line, "she was a good one," to one's self.

The last quarter or so of the album takes a deliberate turn away from the guitar-heavy sound to incorporate beats and rhythms that nevertheless seem to fit perfectly with the other songs. The afore-mentioned "Bank" sounds like something Beck might create.

The guys told me they have already recorded almost enough material for a second CD, and I look forward to hearing it!

Green doesn't have an extensive social media profile, but if you want to buy their music you can find it on Bandcamp: http://chadpayne13.bandcamp.com/album/jrossgreen.  You can see them perform live Aug. 23 on the 2014 Red Betty IPA Side Stage at Hopstring Fest in Silver Cross Field, downtown Joliet's ballpark.