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where are they now: A look at featured past artists

Larshell Green

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Solo acoustic singer Jenn Rees, formerly known as “Mumble Bee,” recently became known as “OAKES.” Currently an album is set to be released in January of 2017. Several children’s books and a series of paintings are also in the works.

Solo acoustic singer Jenn Rees, formerly known as “Mumble Bee,” recently became known as “OAKES.” Currently an album is set to be released in January of 2017. Several children’s books and a series of paintings are also in the works. 
The Lion's Roar/File Photo

Over the years, The Lion’s Roar has interviewed several up-and-comers in the world of art, theatre, dance and music. Musicians like “Voice of the Enemy,” “Common Situation” and Jenn Rees are paving the paths of their own musical journeys.

Thrash metal band “Voice of the Enemy” started in high school and currently includes lead guitarist and vocalist Hayden Kimball, bass player Luke Peebles, drummer Sebastian Martin and guitarist Chris Rabalais.

“We have a Southern metal type of sound with some hard rock aspects in the rhythm,” said Peebles. “I think our variety in style from person to person makes us unique. We all favor different genres of rock in our personal lives, so when we get to the band, it diversifies our writing process.”

According to junior psychology major Kimball, since the release of “Gunslinger,” “Voice of the Enemy” has taken a short break from performing to finish recording their debut album “Gunslinger.”

However, “Voice of the Enemy” has recently played shows at the Brickhouse in Houma, Lava Cantina in Baton Rouge with CJ Pierce of “Drowning Pool” and members of “The Other LA” at Augustine’s in Hammond. The band was also guests on Lafayette’s Planet Radio Sunday segment “Local Stew” to promote “Gunslinger.”

“The venue was great and it was an amazing homecoming back to our home city,” said Kimball. “CJ Pierce was there and he enjoyed our set immensely which humbled us beyond words. Being able to show him what we can do was a great opportunity.”

“Voice of the Enemy” is currently trying to modify their songwriting techniques but keeps the routine a unified task for band members.

“Everybody contributes to the music giving us a whole new sound altogether with all of our different influences coming together,” said Kimball. “I mainly write the lyrics and contribute guitar riffs, but nothing gets put into a song unless everyone wants it there, so this makes the process more enjoyable and fun.” 

According to Kimball, “Voice of the Enemy’s” drummer Martin, gave them a “more modern spin” after their previous drummer Brendan Labry left the band to focus on school and other musical endeavors. 

“We have gotten to more of a strict schedule lately after getting a new drummer,” said Peebles. “It hasn’t really been very much of a break seeing as how all of us work, but we recently made the band more of a priority.”

Local band “Common Situation” consisting of singer-songwriter and guitarist Robert Persac and percussionist Carmen Vessel reunited at Tacos & Beer in early February of 2016 after a hiatus due to the duo’s busy schedules. 

Vessel later joined “Common Situation” which originally included Persac, Will Jackson and Zack Garner and has now been a member for about three years.

According to Persac, what makes “Common Situation” unique is their “sound and unique friendship through the music.”

Amid some changes, “Common Situation” stays true to their same style of music and performances.

“We play a variety of music ranging from ‘The Beatles,’ Jimi Hendrix, Frank Sinatra, Drake; mainly acoustic, jazzy and indie type material,” said Vessel.

According to Vessel, the duo is not currently arranging and writing music together but still plays original songs and covers together amid taking another hiatus.

“We pretty much took a hiatus over the summer mainly because I moved back home,” said Vessel. “Robert has been working a lot so it has been difficult for us to really get together with our busy schedules.”

Since “Common Situation’s” reunion performance in early February, they have played at Tacos & Beer a few times and performed at a charity benefit concert called Tabfest in Hammond.

“Performing at Tabfest charity event was probably one of our proudest moments by being able to do something great for our community through music,” said Vessel.

Vessel remains a music major at the university and admits that balancing her many responsibilities can be difficult at times.

“I have lots of classes, studying and rehearsals, both in school and with ensembles,” said Vessel. “Outside of school with ‘Common Situation,’ as well as performances, there would be times where it became a bit hard to balance, but I got through it.”

Solo acoustic singer Jenn Rees, formerly known as “Mumble Bee,” is known for performing acoustic sets in venues like Tacos & Beer. 

Covers from musicians such as Van Morrison, “Kings of Leon,” Drake and 90s pop hits are usually among Rees’ diverse set list. Rees enjoys to play songs that would traditionally not be played in acoustic versions.

“I like the fact that I have such a wide spectrum because people always seem surprised,” said Rees. “It’s funny to watch people’s reactions to the music. I like shattering people’s expectations. I don’t like to limit myself in any aspect. It’d be harder to think of what doesn’t make me unique. It’s harder for me to fit in than it is for me to stick out.”

According to Rees, she has recently decided to change her stage name to “OAKES” in order to get a more mature sound.

“I changed it to incorporate other people in the music making process so it can be an umbrella name if I started playing music with other people,” said Rees.

However, this is not the only recent change Rees has made to her performance style. She has started performing original songs and hopes to have an album recorded by the end of this year.

“My writing style has evolved,” said Rees. “I’m exploring different perspectives and I feel like it allows me to grow and understand more.”

Over the course of about a year, Rees has had a slew of performances in various venues which have included Tacos & Beer in New Orleans and Friends Coastal Restaurant in Madisonville. 

In Hammond, Rees has performed at Brady’s, opened for a band known in Los Angeles as “Well Hung Heart” at Augustine’s Bar and performed for private parties at The SteaKhouse.

“It helps pay the bills and it’s fun, so it doesn’t feel like a job, people seem to like it,” said Rees.

Rees, who is a graduate student at the university in sociology hoping to earn a master’s degree in December, compared her current album in the works to a thesis paper. 

“The EP would be a testament to how I’m growing as a person and a musician,” said Rees. “It will be a reflection of where I’ve come from and where I’m going. Completing that would be pretty monumental.”

Music remains a constant comfort for Rees through the most difficult moments of her life.

“It’s a constant in a world that is always changing, there’s a reason music moves us the way it does,” said Rees. “Life is weird and the things that you think you can never make it through turns out to be the little rabbit holes into Wonderland. I shattered my metaphorical glass ceiling and music has been my way of channeling that.” 

With many successful moments under her belt, one of Rees’ greatest accomplishments is simple: the art of completion.

“I proved to myself that I can finish things,” said Rees.

“Voice of the Enemy” released their debut album “Gunslinger” on Friday, Jul. 29 and hosted an album release party at Kerry Beary’s Atomic Pop Shop on the same day. 

They are currently doing shows with bands “Twinspan,” “Followed” and “Odious Ab Intra” to support it.

On Saturday, Aug. 27, they will be performing in a festival show at Phil Brady’s in Baton Rouge.

“With the new connections we are establishing and our new album, the sky is the limit at this point,” said Kimball. “As long as we are breathing in and breathing out, we are not going to quit. We love what we do and it is worth everything we go through.”

According to Vessel, she hopes to “just have fun and spread the joy of music” through collaboration of writing and performing shows with Persac as a part of “Common Situation.”

Although Rees admitted that she “does not know what the future holds,” she can confirm a few things in her upcoming journey.

Rees performed as part of Hot August Night at Tacos & Beer in Downtown Hammond on Friday, Aug. 12. She will release a short album consisting of five to seven songs by January of 2017, a series of paintings and several children’s books that she has written but still needs to be illustrated.

For more information on the artists mentioned, visit their Facebook pages.

Members of local band “Common Situation”  often play a variety of covers at local venues such as Tacos & Beer. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Robert Persac (right) is the band’s only founding member. Percussionist Carmen Vessel (left) is currently a music major and later joined the band that has now been around for about three years.

Members of local band “Common Situation”  often play a variety of covers at local venues such as Tacos & Beer.
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Robert Persac (right) is the band’s only founding member. Percussionist Carmen Vessel (left) is currently a music major and later joined the band that has now been around for about three years.
The Lion's Roar/File Photo

Last December, band members from left to right Luke Peebles, Hayden Kimball, Brendan Labry and Chris Rabalais from “Voice of the Enemy” were interviewed by The Lion’s Roar. The band added Sebastian Martin to take over the role of Brendan Labry on drums. On Friday, Jul. 29 they released their debut album “Gunslinger.”

Last December, band members from left to right Luke Peebles, Hayden Kimball, Brendan Labry and Chris Rabalais from “Voice of the Enemy” were interviewed by The Lion’s Roar. The band added Sebastian Martin to take over the role of Brendan Labry on drums. On Friday, Jul. 29 they released their debut album “Gunslinger.”
The Lion's Roar/File Photo

 

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