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This show is now All Ages.
***Only 210 tickets will be made available for this special, intimate, performance! Tickets will sell out fast.***
Doors open at 7pm and the opening act starts at 8pm.
“I just want to be myself, you know?” says Justin Nozuka. The briefestof nervous laughter, and a wry grin, say what he can’t say for himself:There is such a thing as too much introspection, even for a guy who’smade his mark by being candid and reflective. That irony is informedby the old soul behind 22-year-old Nozuka’s fresh-facedcountenance, and the duality is striking. New York-born, Canadianbred Nozuka is young enough to have interview jitters, but sufficientlywise to recognize when he stands to sound, well, full of it. So he’s evervigilant, lest his character fall out of tune with who he wants to be: “Idon’t wanna create [an inflated image of myself].”
Yeah, ‘cause that’s someone else’s job. Nozuka’s charge is to craftsongs that make his listeners feel like they were up all night togetherand shared sleep-deprived confessions. The first collection of these,Holly (Coalition/Glassnote Records), is named for Nozuka’s highlysupportive mother, and came out when Nozuka was just 19. Hepenned the first songs, “Supposed to Grow Old” and “I’m in Peace,”when he was fifteen, and wrote the rest between age 16 and 17, butthe press marveled at his mature sound and vision, calling Nozuka “assoulful and wise as blues greats four times his age.” His follow-up, You IWind Land And Sea, will cement and further define that reputation—even as Nozuka endeavors to stay grounded amid copious praise ofHolly and his performances on tour and television (VH1’s You OughtaKnow, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning America NOW, mtvUWoodie Awards).
“I realized,” Nozuka explains, “that for the music to be free and open,with no restrictions, my creative process had to be more inclusive.”
Although many of the songs were written without the band, Nozukasays they practiced—and sometimes performed—them on tour, todevelop “a collective feel.” So when they got to the studio, Nozukagave the songs up to his band and producer Bill Bell. “We sorta wentright back to the ground and started building again. It waswonderful...a strong learning experience for myself and my band”
YIWLAS encompasses a dozen deep, liberating tracks that expand onthe acoustic folk-soul foundation base Nozuka laid with Holly andintroduce key influences that Nozuka couldn’t convey without hisband. The moody, tribal “Gray” checks Jeff Buckley as much as RayLaMontagne; “Carried You” nods to Philly soul and disco, first single“My Heart Is Yours” applies gospel devotion to romantic soul, and“Unwoken Dream (King With Everything)” mines the psych-folk genre—an ostensible left turn for Nozuka, yet perfectly executed. Andthroughout the album, the production nods subtly to Radiohead,adding a third dimension to Nozuka’s sound which (fans of Holly willbe happy to hear) finds his powerful soul pipes running as smoothly asever.
Whereas Holly “just sort of happened without any real concept,”Nozuka feels YIWLAS has “more of a vision” behind it. “There wasdefinitely more of an idea of what kind of sound I wanted,” he says. “Iwanted it to be very natural... and it had to sound like us. I wanted tobe able to hear and feel humans behind the creation of it all, asopposed to something that was ‘hit’ driven.” He credits theexperience of touring with his band.
“It was important to have songs that were open,” he says, citing“Gray” as an example of consensus through alchemy. The song“transformed so much” in the studio, taking on “this powerful tribalfeeling” due to the percussion, but also benefiting from a group effortto avoid over-thinking. “With art, it’s most important to just to followyour senses. It doesn’t matter if it’s been done before or if it’s notcorrect in pop culture or whatever. If it feels right, it’s right.”
Nozuka says the openness policy was “a big moment” in both hiscreative and personal growth. “I try live moment to moment,” he says,but on YIWLAS’s final track, “How Low,” Nozuka bares more of his soulthan he’s accustomed to, because “it was just created out of a placeof openness. I was just in the moment, no noise in my mind, noquestions. I allowed the song to happen and it just felt great.” Whilehe doesn’t know how to describe the song, he feels its very existenceis the “absolute essence of art... a place that is real and mystical andaw-inspiring.”
Call it paradise, nirvana, whatever—but from where Justin Nozuka sitsnow, everything looks good. He’s happy and prolific, and eyeing aprosperous 2010. Although there are tours and TV appearances andinterviews to come, he’s gonna stick to the plan that works. “I just amgoing with... the flow.”