by Chris Kopas, July 29, 2014
After a year and a half of blistering chops, countless shows and musical bliss with George, Jukebox had the daunting task of filling his shoes. A task they knew that was going to prove difficult.
While the band searched, national-level artist Xander Demos stepped in and kept the schedule rolling, and the band started the arduous task of auditioning and searching for a new full time ace.
"We were searching for an even HIGHER level," says Dave, referring to their search to fill guitar ace George Kalantzis' shoes. "George is a truly phenomenal guitarist and musician and set the bar very, VERY high. He taught us the the importance of playing what fit the songs, the contrast of "power verses grace" of a guitar, what works and what doesn't and how to layer the pocket and groove to enhance the pulse of the song. Invaluable, and so important that he knows when and how to COMPLIMENT the song, rather than just a blistering solo over everyting. He reminds me alot of Neal Schon, and we dug having him in the band."
The band scoured their personal networks, cruised facebook pages, and filtered through emails from the website. Some players rose right to the top of the list, others not so much. Suprised by the level of musiscianship they discovered in the audtitions, they are well aware that in any organization, there are also the intangibles.
"There really is alot at stake, and although we were vere pleased to find there are some true monster players around, there is much more to this. The biggest part of being in a band is 'being in a band'. All the players we auditioned can play. No doubt. But the ones with the great attitudes, strong work ethic and open mind are the one's we gravitated to.'" Dave adds. "We had a few folks left to see, but we actually were ready to make a selection. Then, on the Thursday before we wanted to make a choice, we had ANOTHER monster player come in, and that threw us, and extended the audtions even longer."
"Combine that with the fact that I was waaay wrong in that I thought that all of the top cats were taken, when we were auditioning, we came to realize that there are many really, REALLY good, even great, players right here in our home town. And they kept coming! After the suprise on Thursday, we were starting to really agonize over who to choose, so I stopped taking submissions, and began notifying people that we were closing the auditions. In that mix of folks, was Ross. So we notified him to let him know we were shutting it down,and he called me right back and said he really wanted to try out. I like that tenacity, so we fit him in. Lucky for us!!"
"So that Friday we got together and jammed, and I really liked what I was hearing. Then we just hung out and talked about a bunch of stuff, and we clicked. I contacted the rest of the band and said we should get together asap and put him through the paces. That Saturday we all got together, and I could tell by the way the guys were lookin' at me that they liked what they were hearing. I knew my gut was right and all was in line. Phenomenal player, diverse, open minded and ready to go. We had our guy. "
After the last rehearsal, Dave, Crash and Adam quickly confirmed that the choice was unanimous. Dave notified Ross and much to his delight, Ross loved what he heard and was very enthusiastic about jumping in and getting started.
And so a new chapter begins for Jukebox. Ross is bringing a new vibe and an "anything goes" attitude. With a large variety of styles in his repetoir, and his approach to each song as a separate piece, he adds his love of atmospheric complimentary effects and tones.
"Jukebox can play any style of music we want, but we also gotta play what PEOPLE want, " Dave concludes. " Ross is fearless, so expect the unexpected. All the pieces fit for total bedlam."