Retro group 1959 gives soul to the Battle of the Bands

Ryan deBiase

The band 1959 plays at the ECC in Kent Tuesday night. 1959 is a unique six-piece band with traditional instruments such as a saxophone and a trumpet. MICHELE ROEHRIG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A collective groan went up from the ranks of Kent-based rhythm and blues group 1959. Guitarist Dustin Green leaned in a bit closer to the microphone.

“I’ll tell the story,” said Green, junior art education major. “I have a good friend who battles drug addiction, and she’s one of the biggest fans of the band. The music just puts something in her body that is indescribable. Once she hears our music, she forgets about her drug addiction, she forgets about her tortured soul. She could just finally relax.”

Green spoke, amid uncontrollable laughter from the other band members, of their first-ever show at the ECC.

“Let me tell a better story,” vocalist Maurice Martin, music education major, interjected. “You see, there was a girl who was very, very intoxicated. She was stumbling around in front of the stage, climbing onto the stage, pulling on my pant legs, telling the keyboard player he was playing too loud. Basically being obnoxious.”

1959 loves to entertain. Green’s version of the story may have been slightly sensationalized, but it arose from the groups ease at entertainment. Still, the story did cause a slight dispute.

“Ain’t nobody know she had a drug problem,” said keyboardist Curtis Tate, senior music education major, while shaking his head.

Since forming last November, 1959 has combined original material with covers from Stevie Wonder, the Doobie Brothers and the Isley Brothers, among others.

“We like to do covers of songs that people like to dance to and put our own spin on them,” Martin said. “We do some R&B, funk, classic rock. We try to stay open minded to music and just put our own feel and our own soul to music.”

1959 is predominantly influenced by Motown, said drummer Justin Hofmann, senior percussion performance major.

“We’re probably under the umbrella of soul,” he said.

1959’s origins are rooted within the School of Music. Four members are music majors – Martin, Tate, Hofmann and saxophonist Matt Tieman. Green joined through his involvement with the Kent State jazz ensemble and bassist Antoine Henderson was added because of his involvement with the music scene around Kent.

Battle of the Bands final

Where? Rathskeller

When? Tuesday, April 18

“We’re all musicians,” Martin said, “not just people who play certain instruments. We have very little ego amongst us as a whole, and that’s a formula for success.”

The combination of their musical backgrounds facilitated the process of developing chemistry between the various members.

“I consider it a miracle that the six of us have come together to join forces,” said Green. “It’s a euphoric experience.”

The band’s live show makes it apparent the group enjoys playing together. This attitude is reflected by the audience – they often take to dancing, sometimes uncontrollably, as evidenced by the story of the drunken girl.

Henderson notes that the band is not geared specifically toward an uppity college crowd. With its musical background, 1959 is versatile enough to adapt its show to a diverse array of audiences.

“We can play anywhere with any kind of act,” Henderson said. “We can play at a smaller, intimate bar with an older crowd, and they’d be into it. We can kick it up a notch and play a little bit funkier for a younger crowd.”

1959 will test its retro-youthful appeal at the Battle of the Bands final Tuesday night.

“If you want to vote for us, great; if not, that’s okay too,” Martin said. “We think that we put on a fun show and it’s worth it.”

Contact ALL correspondent Ryan deBiase at [email protected].