Higher Rock Music


Review by John DeGroff

Ohio Avenue was interviewed for this site several months back, andat that time they stated they were just completing an album projectthat would be their first full lenth release. (They have an earlierEP release entitled "Make Me Believe"). The new album, entitled "TheSound", has recently come out and as far as song writing and overallquality of the project, it's almost a light year leap for Ohio Avenue.

The project contains 10 tracks, and begins with the song "CatchMe", which right away is a bit misleading. It's a good pop song, butbegins with a techno dance riff that make the listener think they'vecome across a dance CD.

"Liar, Liar", the next rack, is one of the better songs on thealbum. It's a mid-tempo, medium rock tune that somehow manages togravitate between pop and metal. Lyric content is thought provoking,with lines like "...we're innocent until the is found out...".

"Running Away" is the most modern rock tune on the alum, while thenext two songs, "Shine Through" and "Show Me", a laid back rocker anda balled respectively, show tht the band is capable of moving intomore subtle territory when they want to.

One of the other better songs on the album, "The Cure", [probablyis the best written and recorded track. Lyrically, it's straightforward simplicity, with lines like:"You're a cure for me...you're everything I need...you're everythingI'm not...you're everything I want...you're everything I'll everneed..."

All of which, combined with the great production, makes the tunesound like the work of musicians mature beyond their years.

The title track, "The Sound", is a surprising bit of songwriting,and does rank with the best songs on the album.

The next three tunes for some reason are listed as bonus tracks"Close To Me" almost arena rock, but somewhat laid back; "BrokenDreams And Secrets", very techno, and almost somewhat over-produced;and "Never Be You (lost boys mix)", is very reminiscent of 80s pop.

Ohio Avenue is still comprised of Derek Williams, piano and guitar,and lead vocals; K.C. Mitchell, lead guitar, and Chad Defoor, drums.Tracks 1 through 7 were produced by Adam smith; track 8 by BradMcConnell; 9 by Barry Blair; and Track 10 produced by Blair andMcConnell. Programming on tracks 9 and 10 by McConnell; all otherprogramming and additional keyboards by Adam Smith.

Okay, let's be totally honest about the nature of reviews. Theyare nothing more than the writer's completely subjective opinion.This is where I get to insert mine.

If this album has any flaw, it can be found in one area. Thereseems to be an almost over-reliance on programming. Ohio Avenue as aband has the musicianship and talent to pull off any genre' they wantto attempt. Programing almost seems more important than musicianshipat times, and definitely isn't needed by these guys.

I'd also like to include a bit of a personal note to the band as awhole: hire a full time bass player. Ohio Avenue utilizes apre-programmed bass track when playing live. For "The Sound", bass iscredited to Tony Lucido, and to Zack Dreher on track 8. The additionof a full time bass player would not only add consistency, but wouldadd more "warmth" to their sound, give the human factor.

Ohio Avenue is a band that has a lot going for it. On "The Sound",they exhibit maturity with strong song writing, intelligent , thoughtprovoking lyrics, and excellent musicianship sometimes not even foundin bands that have been together longer. Quite seriously, Ohio Avenueis a band that is not only talented and ministry minded, but will beworth watching in the future to see what else they have to offer.

Check out the bands myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/ohioavenue

If your interested in booking Ohio Avenue please email their management at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  



by John DeGroff

Jazz and Christian music is yet another combination that seems unlikely at first. But like any style of music used for ministry, the real issue is the integrity and attitude of the performer. DavidWells, a gifted flugel horn and trumpet player, embodies both talent and a heart for ministry, and has been able to develop an extremely busy and diverse career.

David began playing at the age of nine, and by 13, he had his professional debut. He counts as his influences Louis Armstrong and Herb Albert and The Tijuana Brass. He has just released his eighth solo album, "Skyline", on Nuance Records. Previous releases include:"The Day Of" (2000); "This Is My Father's World" (2001); "Ephesians 5:19" (2002); "David Wells With Anthony Burger" (2004); "America'sChristmas" (2006); "More Love, More Power" (2007); and "Friday Afternoon" (2008). He has also recorded with his father, Stan Wells,on the album "What A Wonderful Life".

It was the album "More Love, More Power", which contains the tune"Strawberry Letter #23", that put David's career into a national spotlight. The tune charted at #10 on national jazz charts in 2007.The album itself reached as high as #13 on jazz album charts. His holiday single, "Deck The Halls", hit #1 as the most added song on smooth jazz stations nationwide.

In addition to concerts, and extensive radio air play, he has performed for the Cincinnati Reds and the Columbus Blue Jackets on ESPN2. He has also been featured on the BET network's television show Studio Jams.

David has been gracious enough to submit to an interview for Higher Rock Music, and we're extremely thankful for his time.

Higher Rock Music: You mention on your web site that you started playing at age 9. did you have any formal training after that?

David: I had lessons in junior high and high school, and some private lessons at age 10. I had to practice twice as much because I wasn't gifted like anyone else. I majored in trumpet performance at Oral Robert University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I started thinking seriously about playing professionally probably my first year in college. I thought that when I got done with college, I was going to go ahead and play full time. But, I had a variety of "secular" jobs along the way. It wasn't until several years later...it was like an immediate jump...going from a"secular" job into a full time traveling player.

HRM: Your tune, "Strawberry Letter #23", part of "More Love, More Power", was originally an indie production. Was the success of this what lead to the deal with Nuance?

David: Yes, as a matter of fact it did. It was with the help of a radio promoter out of L.A. with Peer Pressure Promotions. They were the ones who recommended that I put a bonus track on the end of "More Love, More Power". When I did that it sort of set the ground work for my relationship with the radio stations from then on. What's funny with the radio stations is that if you have a little bit of success at first, they'll keep playing you unless you come out with a bunch of crap. Everything's done on relationships.

 HRM: You do a combination of church gigs and things like jazz festivals, right?

David: During the summer we do more churches. During the remainder of the year we do other venues. Because of our work with Chocolate Jazz, we do school assemblies. We probably spend more time with that than anything else.

HRM: Well. then let's talk about Chocolate Jazz...

David: It's a fundraiser for public high school, used to bring money to the school's music program. I go into the school a few day before the actual concert and do motivational type assemblies, in which the Chocolate Jazz event is promoted. The night of the concert, the local high school band and/or their jazz band plays. I also do a few numbers. There are chocolate fountains and good coffee available.Ticket sales to back to the school music program. What we've done recently is to look more for corporate sponsors ona national basis. We've also been working with churches because a lotof churches want to reach out to the school. What I do is that if achurch wants to sponsor an event, the only commitment that a churchh as is to sell 50 tickets. The church then becomes the sponsor of the event.

HRM: By being a jazz musician, have you received criticism from the Christian community?

David: (...laughs at first...) I receive criticism from both, from the secular side and Christian. It was one of those genres where you're "damned if you do/damned if you don't". You have to walk lightly on either stand. As a Christian, I don't go out there and start preaching to people. I live through my actions and look for opportunities. I will say this...I will not leave a concert until I play "Amazing Grace". About 75-80% of the time, we get a standing ovation.

HRM: You've worked with your father Stan on his album "What A Wonderful World". You've also worked together on the road for a bit. Any plans for further work?

David: Probably not. When Dad was on board, it wasn't too hard getting dates. Dad sang and also played piano. I was able to get into more Churches with him than without him. Now, he works as an advance man for some of the Chocolate Jazz events.

HRM: What advice would you give to other musicians?

David: Never depend on somebody to get something done. You always have to do it yourself. You get to a certain level and it's funny how people come out of the woodwork and they want to be a part of everything. Also, don't give up. It's so easy to give up. You might be down a day or two because of bad news. You've always got to get back up and keep going. Always depend on you to get things done.

(Author's Note: For more information about David, the Chocolate Jazz events, or to order David's albums, please check out his web site atwww.davidwellsonline.com)

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