With a little help from Finland, Myron & E bring sweet Bay Area soul to the vinyl grooves
Myron & E's first four singles have made an impact among soul fans and bloggers in the States, but the two say they've had far more success in Europe. Last summer, they performed for thousands at Helsinki's Pori Jazz Festival. Myron opines that audiences there are more accepting of all forms of music. "They can go from gangsta rap to Norah Jones," he says. Suffice to say that U.S. audiences don't want Snoop Dogg at a Norah Jones concert.
And then there's the question of the "retro-soul" resurgence itself. It can hardly be called a trend anymore since it's been more than a decade since Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings recorded its first singles for the now-defunct Desco imprint, arguably marking the scene's evolution from acid jazz revivalism to full-on deep funk aesthetics. Much of the genre's creative energy hasn't come from the black community, though, but from discerning record collectors inspired by a musical world that disappeared long ago. That has made for some uncomfortable conversations about appropriation — E Da Boss compares it to the way British rockers adopted Southern folk blues idioms in the 1960s.
"If I went up to the homies in the hood and said, 'Let's do this music,' it probably won't happen because it's all about the R&B and neo-soul, the Chris Browns, and the R. Kellys," Myron says. Some notable black artists like Raphael Saddiq, Cee-Lo Green, and Solange Knowles have begun using a "retro-soul" sound, particularly as the style has grown popular. Still, Myron & E know their efforts, however great, can't compare to the soul legends of Motown and Stax. As Myron says, "It's easy to make something that already exists better."
MYRON & E
Backed by Hot Pocket; with Kings Go Forth, The Selector DJ Kirk
Fri/19, 10 p.m.; $10–$13
647 Valencia, SF