by jon bosworth
Klob may be the only perfect band. I first caught up with Kip Kolb of the blues-rock outfit Klob to start this article back in the Spring. The band had just returned from Greenwich Village where they played a showcase at the Soul of the Blues festival at the Cornelia Street Café. Coming off a gig like that, you might think they’d be insistent on a certain caliber of venue, but before they had even been back in Jacksonville for a full day, here they were setup under a tent in the parking lot in front of a strip mall playing for the Sunday afternoon regulars at a Westside bar called Lillian’s. And they seemed perfectly content with the intimate and sweaty situation.
“There’s nothing better than playing a show where people say they were bummed when they heard it was an original band. Then they listen and can relate and it was good and fun and they want to buy a CD,” Kip told EU.
Whether it’s a bar parking lot in the afternoon or under an elaborate scaffolding stage at the Talleyrand Music and Art Festival, Klob is the sort of band that can master any performance space. This is exactly why they are the perfect band. They would just as soon play the Tin Roof in Charleston until 4 am as Burrito Gallery during a fairly sweaty summertime Art Walk. The point isn’t the place, it’s the access to listeners that drives Kip to lead his band into less likely places.
But sometimes the point is the place. Or rather, what “the place” is not. You won’t usually see Klob playing where most original blues and rock bands play around town. You’re not likely to catch them at Jack Rabbits or London Bridge. They prefer to play places where the expectations are high and they have to earn the crowd. If you think it’s easy to be an original band that plays at bars that usually feature cover bands, you are mistaken. When a drunk couple that is out celebrating their anniversary wants to hear a Joe Cocker song, they tend to insist. But Kip sees the benefit of a more discerning crowd.
“I got guys out at the Bonefish that are sixty plus. Seeing somebody that age that still loves music, it’s awesome. I like the older crowd, but I want people of all ages to like it.”
He also insists on playing in bars where the patrons are comfortable. Less distractions.
“When people are comfortable they are more likely to pay attention. Once they listen, I got them.”
Klob is the last band I ever thought I would like. I’ve known Kip for a couple of years, but I’ve always avoided seeing him play live for fear that I would hate it and he would insist on knowing what I thought. Before striking out on his solo gig full time, he played keyboards with the Chad Jasmine Factor.
“I love Chad like a brother, so there was never any competition. It was always ‘what can I do to make this show great?’ Grooving around, the repartee with Chad on stage, that stuff is there. For me to turn it into my own show was always something I wanted to do.”
But when I finally went out to see him play, I fell in love with it. Not in the way I fall in love with a great new post rock band or a raunchy-but-clever punk band, but the way you fall in love with a Billy Joel song even if you’re afraid to admit it. Kip has enough of some classic blues element to allow me to forgive his obvious lack of concern over cool points. He isn’t a hipster and he isn’t trying to be.
“There’s a familiarity to the blues. My songs never sound the same, but they sound like something you’ve heard before.”
Kip sounds like the vocal love child of Randy Newman and Dr. John. It is hard to imagine how he could have kept his gregarious charisma at bay behind Chad Jasmine for so long, but he is perfectly at home on stage and his wit is natural and sincere. That said, Klob is nothing like Chad Jasmine Factor, or any of Chad’s projects.
Kip’s band is surprisingly meek for musicians of their caliber. Most of them have a lengthy list of reputable band credits and all are consummate musicians. Kip wouldn’t have it any other way. He speaks of the band as family, with himself as the father figure.
“I make the guys wear collared shirts when we play shows. I don’t want it to look like we’re at band practice, I want it to be a presentation of these songs.”
He also seems a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to his music, but this is fitting coming from a former junior high English teacher. Kip left his teaching behind to spend more time focused on his music.
“Teaching school was mentally exhausting. It is so depressing to me, raising other people’s children, the lack of love that is out there for kids and the absolute hardness that it can be. Come out to Arlington. There’re a lot of kids out there whose mom’s not coming to the baseball game. It was depressing.”
He is a carpenter now and spends his free time writing, rehearsing, and recording with Klob. But communication is as important to him now as it was when he was a teacher. Especially his lyrics. It is important to him that his audiences can hear what the songs are about.
Their first full-length release, Speed Dial: LOVE, features all of the songs on Klob’s previously released 4 Fresh Flavors EP plus eight fresher ones, many of which were a surprise after Klob’s fanciful EP. Instead of just fun, almost Charleston-paced blues ditties, the full-length came loaded with some serious, if not epic songs.
“Yeah, I get a chance to do that! ‘Parting Gift’ and ‘I Will’ have a little bit of a darker feel to it. ‘Lima’ has a dramatic, theatrical feel to it.”
The EP did a good job of introducing this fun-time bar band in all of their natural funk and with Kip’s leading keys and raspy, playful croon. This new effort plays less like a romp and more like an album. Like there is much more than a bar band in there.
In spite of the many side and solo projects the band members are involved in, they are all primarily committed to Klob. Louis LeClaire plays bass, Brian Jenkins plays drums, Mike Kiramarios plays tenor sax, Kip plays keys and sings and Mike Bowman plays guitar and percussion.
Although every member of the band is a consummate musician, and most of them are skilled on multiple instruments and musical disciplines, Kip called Mike the true jack-of-all trades of the group. Apparently Mike does everything well, from football to guitar. He even played for a stint with the Green Bay Packers.
From the new classics Klob seems to be writing to the perfect ensemble of musicians to who breathe life into the songs, Klob is probably the perfect band.
Go to myspace.com/klobsong for a sample or buy a CD from one of their frequent live gigs. The new album is also available on iTunes, CD Baby, Rhapsody or through their website at klobsong.com.
“If I can get people to listen, I can get the fans. Put us in front of a thousand people and we’ll step up to that. If I can sell 60 CDs at Brix, we could travel around the country and win fans anywhere.”
perfecting the band
by jon bosworth