“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.”
— Jack Kerouac, On the Road
There comes a time in every band’s development when it must take to the highway. The road’s beckoning is an invitation to expansion, a summons to greater things, and it won’t take no for an answer. So it is that Ventura’s own D. on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers have heard the call, and they need your help to answer it.
With a loyal regional following, a second full-length record completed and a third in progress, plus a second date with Ink–N-Iron Festival, the five-piece “dirty gypsy blues” ensemble is ready to take it to the next level; it just needs a little push. But because they understand how weary people are of crowd funding pleas, they’re putting a spin on theirs. Of course, they need money — even on a no-frills tour, expenses for five can get fairly daunting for cash-strapped musicians — but they also want your involvement. Each fan that drops $30 in the virtual jar gets to put the band on the map — literally — by choosing a tour stop (within reason). The hope is that when the campaign is complete, D. on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers will have an itinerary planned almost exclusively by fans and friends of fans. What better way for a band of gypsies to share the love?
The road is not unfamiliar to bandleader and founder D. on Darox. His way of life has long been a nomadic one. “I don’t like being rooted,” he says. Born in Peru, he’s lived many places, including Tennessee, Wyoming and Arizona, but currently resides in Ventura — a location he chose by throwing a dart at a map. Keeping with the gypsy ethos, Darox and company have also spent a fair amount of time as buskers.
“The street is the hardest stage you will ever play,” says Darox. “You have to captivate. If you have material and you want to know if it’s good or not, and you want to know how to capture an audience and show your soul, and at the same time reach into theirs . . ..”
A natural kinship exists between the band and the “houseless” or “homebums,” as Darox prefers, and one day he’d like to start a traveling “hobo choir.”
“The gypsy is the nomad, the rebellion from society’s standard,” he says. Gypsy culture has been influential to the evolution of Darox and his Melody Joy Bakers. Named for a very vocal houseless woman who is a fixture in downtown Ventura, it represents a number of themes, both literal (Darox is a pastry chef) and symbolic.
To fully fall into sync with the band’s jazzy, raspy nostalgic vibe, it helps the listener to be able to resonate with the underdog archtype, to have a full range of human emotions to draw from — to be familiar with the dance of life. Tango, D .on D and the MJB’s forthcoming record sort of demands it.
Conceived as a conceptual piece, it loosely deals with a woman who makes a deal with the devil, and what happens when he comes to collect.“What would you do to sell your soul? What would your exchange be?” Darox says. The band lets listeners decide, but what’s not left to interpretation is the sheer musicianship showcased on the record. Recorded live by Nick Luca at New Monkey Studio in Van Nuys, the old-timey jazz/Americana sound evokes revelry, sadness and madness all at once with its tasteful use of theramin in addition to stunning trumpet work and other sundry instruments (accordion, washboard, banjo, guitars, etc.) as well as Darox’s boozy, soulful vocals. Words like bawdy, boudoir and fisticuffs come to mind.
This is a band that understands the purpose of art and the necessity of entertainmen. Thusly it has a tradition. “We tell our crowd, ‘You’ve been working all week, you’re at the show right now, and it’s time to shake off the bullshit just for a few hours.’ ” Clearly D. on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers deserves to spread its wings as much as the world needs it to. So drop a few coins in the kitty, put ’em on the map. Somebody, somewhere will be better for it.
To donate to the cause and tell these guys where to go, visit kickstarter.com and search D. on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers. Tango will be available for purchase in July. You may also find the band on Facebook and Reverbnation.