Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Winter Sessions Show at the Shark Club
Maybe I am a little biased, because I think he is a great guy, but I am a BIG fan of Josh “Handz Onn” Russell. I have said it before, and I will say it again, he is one the hip hop artists in this area that in my opinion gets it. He truly understands that this business, this genre is just about money, hoes, and clothes. It’s about the MUSIC. It’s about crafting good songs that make people want to listen, have fun, and most importantly, come see you when you perform.
Handz Onn put together a show recently at the Shark’s Club on College Avenue in Appleton (which seems to be quite the music spot lately; a few weeks back I went and checked out a Spotlight Entertainment show in the same venue) called Winter Session. Incidentally, another thing about Josh that I really respect is his humbleness. He put the show together, he did a LOT of the leg work, but at the end of the day, he WASN’T the headliner, but I will touch on that in a bit.
The first act, Looni Tunes, did a nice set. Apparently, it was their first performance together, but you really couldn’t tell, simply because they were both already seasoned solo performers.
Big H out of Minnesota hit the stage as well, and I gotta say I was impressed with his flow.
The energy from S.M.O.K.E.D. filled the entire place. Actually, THEY filled the entire place. At one point I think they were both in the back of the place, cordless mics in hand rocking the crowd.
Josh, joined by drummer Jaime Varela of the metal band Evoked, tore the stage DOWN, and Tha Regime just completely shut the door.
Tha Regime, the headliner of the show, impresses me more and more every time I see and hear them. When you watch them on stage, it is hard to believe that they have been a group only since August of 2012. Their ebb and flow with each other is just effortless and on point. And their styles complement each other so well. With Tha Prophet’s low DMX-like growl to S.O.T. rapid fire Twista-esqe delivery, Tha Regime are the complete package.
Since I have mentioned the Spotlight show, there were some VERY obvious differences between the two shows, although both were hip hop shows. The first glaring difference was the lineup. The Spotlight show was just that: A Spotlight Entertainment show. Every act on the bill was a Spotlight act. And that makes perfect sense. For Josh’s show, he brought in acts the liked, respected, and felt deserved a spot. I respect that as well.
The second difference the start time. When there is a Handz Onn show, it starts when it SAYS it is going to start. (I will throw in this caveat, though. THIS particular show started about 15 minutes late; so there were no breaks between the acts. Just kept right on rolling.) One of my biggest pet peeves as always been the RIDICULOUSLY late start for some of these hip hop shows. If your flyer says show is at 10, why in the hell is it 12:30 before the FIRST act hits the stage? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Don’t get me wrong, I have MAD respect for a LARGE number of the hip hop artists around here (some, not all. Some of them are just flat garbage), but let’s not get it twisted. NONE of them are superstars. I respect your grind and your talent, so me dropping $5 or $10 at the door to see your show isn’t really a bother. But I want a SHOW. Not two or three songs from the act that is SUPPOSED to be the headliner at 1:30 in the morning because everyone has been bullshitting around for the last three hours.
Anyway, I digress. I talked to Josh about his show before they hit the stage.
What are you trying to accomplish with what you have going on tonight?
Tonight is completely focused around the fact that I want to show that I am different kind of hip hop artist in this area. I want to show that I am a performer, not just a rapper. I can get in a booth and spit a verse all day. I want to show that I am a performer. I want to show that there IS performing in hip hop. There should be lights. There should be a stage. There should be all kind of fun goodies. I have a live drummer behind me tonight. I want to show that I am more than just an open mic hip hop artist.
What else you got going on tonight?
Man, I got performers from all over. I got acts from Sheboygan, Appleton, and Minnesota. I am also going to be videotaping the show from multiple angles so I can put together a promo video to send to record labels to show that I am not just part time rapper. This is my job and this is my life.
What was the thought process behind all ages and no cover for this show?
There are not enough places that allow you to do all ages, you know? And it really sucks, because the younger crowd is the next generation of listeners. The younger kids are the next generation of Handz Onn fans, and I want to be able to throw all ages shows so they have a chance to be a part of something.
So what is next for you?
Well, I am going to finish up my CD, then go do another show in Vegas in April and then in June I am doing a 30 day tour around the United States. I bring everything with me too; I am the full show, not just one performer. Handz Onn is not a rapper anymore. Maybe at one point he was, but at this point now Handz Onn has become an industry. Yes, I am the rapper, but I have so many people that are behind me. Photographers, security, stage hands, sounds guys; the name Handz Onn is no longer just me.