The Zou's Nouveau Rock Festival at Cedars
Lead singer and founder Khaled Tabbara says with each Nouveau, they try not only to expose people to new music, but prove that there is a real music scene in Youngstown.
“The whole point of the evening was [to try] to bring back artisticness to music and have it been seen as a real force in the arts field.”
The multi-genre aspect of the Saturday evening show was something new for Nouveau, and Tabbara says going that route was the right decision. Hip-hop and metal made debuts at Nouveau with D Jones and Wake the Lion, and Tabbara says he got positive responses from both the artists and their fans.
“There’s people out there that didn’t know that kind of music existed or they judged them,” Tabbara says. “When they came and saw bands like that, it opened their eyes... You’re bringing a new kind of thought process to something people may have already seen.
“Awesome, like really awesome,” Tabbara says. “I think it was by far the most successful one we’ve had.”
At 10 p.m., Braille took the second stage as The Zou bassist Murad Shorrab introduced them as “the most innovative band in Youngstown.”
The experimental trio has been playing together since 2006 when bassist Josh Goode tried out for the band. He says he was invited to drummer Ian James’ grandmother’s house to jam. When he got there, he says James put on “2001: A Space Odyssey” and together with guitarist Anthony Cucitrone, they scored the movie through improvisation.
“That’s kind of how we tried Josh out and he kept coming back,” James says.
The band members write “avant-garde” music that’s described on their MySpace page as “a prog-and-math instrumental sound.” On a less technical level, Braille, sans vocals, mixes their years musical training with a creative use of technology to produce a sound unique to the area.
All members of the band are not only second generation musicians, but second generation on their instruments: “[Cucitrone’s] dad played guitar, my dad played bass and [James’] dad played drums” Goode says.
They say their sound is developed through trial and error. Goode says they try a lot of things just to see if they can pull it off. If it works, they keep it, he says.
“It’s more interesting than the stuff we hear on the radio,” Cucitrone says.
They say they’ve tried out different vocalists, but none of them seemed to work. After a few successful shows, they decided to stay an instrumental band, they say.
“A lot of times the style of the vocals change the sound of the music,” James says. “We’ve developed a following as being an instrumental band. We’ve got a good thing going on right now.”
Tabbara says they invited Braille to play Nouveau because they fit the bill of being a heavily artistic, inventive band.
“We’ve played with them a lot because we really admire what they’re doing,” Tabbara says “It’s really creative and it’s really showing a mastery of not just music, but technology.”
Last summer, Braille performed a show in New York City’s East Village at The Lit Lounge and they’ll be retuning for another show in July. They’re also set to play the Friendly Festival in Wisconsin in August and have a show at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in September. Locally, Braille will play May 22 at Cedars and June 12 at University Pizzeria.
While this was not the first Nouveau, Tabbara says this will definitely not be the last: “I think that our mission is not yet over. It’s to continue to show people that there is an interest in original music.”