Sound Bites: Jeff Hardy and Peroxwhy?gen; Chapter:Soul; and The Lackies

Saxophone player and band founder Calvin Johnson calls the music that his group Chapter: Soul makes “NOLA future funk." Photo provided

Tuesday, Aug. 14
Jeff Hardy and Peroxwhy?gen, with Something Clever, Seven Year Witch, and Solarist
The Firmament, 5 Market Point Drive
8 p.m.

Jeff Hardy typically spends most of his time being a WWE Superstar, traveling from town to town and performing gravity-defying feats in the ring. But his secret passion has always been music, and he’s made three albums of razor-edge, electronics-tinged hard rock with his band Peroxwhy?gen — pronounced peroxygen — since 2010. Not that making time for the band is easy. In fact, the release party for their most recent album, 2017’s “Precession Of The Equinoxes,” took place in Nashville after Hardy appeared on an episode of the WWE’s “Monday Night Raw.”

“With the WWE schedule, it’s almost impossible, but every once in a while I’m able to do a show,” Hardy says. “It’s going to be really cool to get back with the band again.”

In the meantime, Hardy says  his current WWE character, a face-painted, enigmatic figure, has helped him become a better frontman.

“I’ve recently started doing some in-ring promos and they give me some crazy stuff to try to memorize and put in my own words,” he says, “and it’s actually helped me to get in front of people and sing because I feel a lot more comfortable than I did five or six years ago. I can speak to the fans in between songs and tell jokes makes that connection.” —Vincent Harris

Saturday, Aug. 11
Chapter:Soul with Tray Dahl and The Jugtime Ragband
Gottrocks, 200 Eisenhower Drive 
8 p.m.

Saxophone player and band founder Calvin Johnson calls the music that his group Chapter:Soul makes “NOLA future funk,” and it’s difficult to think of a better hard-and-fast description. Over New Orleans-style horn-spiked soul, Johnson’s quartet mixes in modern-day R&B vocal hooks, jazzy time changes, and pop-music polish, but they never lose that relentlessly danceable Big Easy sense of groove.

It’s a stylistic range that allows them to work in everything from Kanye to Freddie Hubbard, and it’s delivered so confidently that it’s somewhat surprising to learn that Johnson was initially reluctant to leave his gig with the veteran New Orleans outfit the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to start his own project.

“There was most definitely some hesitation,” Johnson says with a laugh. “As an artist, you’re kind of scared when you have something new to say; you wonder how people are going to accept it. Are they going to take to it? Are they going to just remember you from the past or allow you to move on and do something new?”

But when it came to heading up his own group, Johnson could hardly have had better teachers than the Dirty Dozen. “They took me in and showed me the ropes from the bottom on up,” he says. “Everything from putting a band together to putting together a tour to doing publicity. They are true road warriors.” —Vincent Harris

Thursday, Aug. 9
The Lackies
Piedmont Natural Gas Downtown Alive, NOMA Square, 220 N. Main St.
5:30 p.m.

For years, Greenville’s The Lackies were on the rock band treadmill, playing their melodic, Beatlesque power-pop whenever they could and recording often. But as they tried to find a bigger audience for their catchy, guitar-heavy songs (primarily written by guitarists Matt Morgan and Jef Chandler and singer/bassist David Sims), a certain amount of burnout set in.

“Like anything you do over and over, the repetition makes it boring,” Morgan says. “You can lose sight of what’s important. You fall out of love with it or take it for granted.”

Now, with the band playing far fewer shows (usually just a handful per year), and the pressure of being a full-time band largely behind them, things are a lot more laid back.

“When we played before, we were making a go at getting on the road, releasing and selling new records and playing a lot of shows,” Morgan says. “Now it’s just a hell of a lot of fun. David and I have been in bands together since middle school, and some of these songs go back over 30 years. When we get together and play those songs now, it’s very special.” —Vincent Harris


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