In the summer of 2007, John Mayer (my future husband,) wrote a glowing review of a band by the name of Just Off Turner. Upon listening, I fell instantly and wholly in love. Soon after, I discovered two of the four band mates were originally from Northwest Arkansas making me all the more eager to pass on the word. Phil, the keyboardist and backing vocalist, and I began communicating casually via myspace. The exchanges spawned a surface friendship which enabled me to encourage the foursome to stop through Little Rock while touring in October of ’07. I assisted in finding a suitable venue and the crew played an unreal show at Sticky Fingerz one random, rainy, Thursday evening. They were so fantastic in fact, the sound manager at Sticky Fingerz made a point to mention more than once, “We have to get you guys back here on a weekend!” Unfortunately, due to the weather and weekday, the crowd was small. Small, though mesmerized. The typical bar room chatter was hushed in efforts to hear every song and note played.
They are lyrically, melodically, and musically pretty dang great. Music stirs many things within me and finding the entire package, all the components, is an infrequent find. I have since shared their music with nearly everyone I know who has ears. The majority of the feedback is positive. Even those who tend to disagree with my taste in music, agree with me on this particular band. I would describe the sound as “rock and soul,” but it transcends these genres as well. At times, they even have a jazzy quality to their music. Perhaps the eclectic styles lead me to never tire of listening. In a previous blog, I mentioned of “nostalgia inspired by music.” Just Off Turner’s album, “The Long Walk Back,” ices the cake in this regard.
L to R: Bryan Mounce (Lead Vocals, Guitar,) Phil Metzler (Keys, BV,) Stephen Andrews (Bass, BV,) and Eric Gustafson (Drums, BV.) Erik Thureson for lightbox57.com
I was afforded the opportunity to sing on stage while they played “How Much it Hurts,” a song I encourage you to listen to first if you’ve not listened before. Music tends to be more meaningful if one is able to identify with the song. If you’ve ever been in a relationship begging to end because of the absence of communication, this song will sing to you. I, along with Micah and Scott (Almost InFamous,) cover this song. This song is requested with regularity and often times, we are stopped during breaks and questioned with “who sings that ‘How Much it Hurts’ song?” It’s that good. I have since grown to love other songs more, but “How Much it Hurts” definitely initiated the love affair.
Just Off Turner in Little Rock.
Just Off Turner (plus Micah) in Little Rock.
My good friend, Rheanna and Eric in Little Rock.
While in Little Rock, the band stayed with me once they discovered I was “normal.” After their show, I learned these four men are humble, witty, engaging when conversing, and above all, really kind. You will hear more on this band sooner or later as they’re receiving more exposure on MTV, VH-1, etc. It’s a matter of time. My only concern? They’re too talented for mainstream. Hopefully, the “catchiness” of their music will trump their talent, odd as that sounds. They played in Fayetteville the evening after playing in Little Rock and several of us journeyed without hesitation to Northwest Arkansas to see them yet again. Though the crowd was more populated, the vibe was less intimate. Still, an A+ show. I remain in sporadic contact with Phil primarily swapping great musical and book discoveries.
Just Off Turner in Fayetteville.
With Stephen in Fayetteville.
Phil and Stephen in Fayetteville.
Rheanna, Phil, and me in Fayetteville.
Trust me on Just Off Turner. At seven, when the rest of 1987 was purchasing Tiffany, I was saving my allowance to buy a George Harrison cassette. I’ve never been drawn to the bubble-gum, fluffy music. I need soul, substance. I never went through the New Kids phase, though okay, I’ll admit I was a big fan of Color Me Badd. Fortunately, I was raised by music loving parents who jammed The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Rickie Lee Jones, ‘Til Tuesday, and Joan Armatrading; musicians I continue to love now and will continue to love into my future. I will take Just Off Turneralong for a ride into my future as well. It's inspiring to see Arkansans obtaining their (deserved) success. Toss in a talented pianist (etc.) from Michigan and add a damn good bassist from Florida and the end result is undeniably excellent stuff. Cheers to extraordinary music and an even bigger cheers to the "ordinary" people behind it!
Gotta get these guys back in Arkansas again...