Big Red Chairs: June 23, 2011 – The “Vicci Martinez and Jamar Rogers” Edition

CR: Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves

Welcome to Big Red Chairs, the blog for all your The Voice needs…this week, it’s all Team Cee Lo as I’m priveleged to bring you backstage on Vicci Martinez and Jamar Rogers‘ West Coast tour, complete with exclusive interviews and a review of their new music: Vicci’s self-titled album and Jamar’s new single.

Concert Review

Vicci and Jamar visited one of my favorite concert venues, Anthology San Diego, on Thursday night. It’s a very Voice-friendly place that’s previously hosted Beverly McClellan and Javier Colon, and will be home to Tony Lucca and Justin Hopkins in October. If you’re in the Southern California area and haven’t been there, definitely make plans to visit, if only to give them some love for their support of our Voice artists!

It was the first trip to San Diego for both Vicci and Jamar, and it was definitely an evening to remember! Their interactions showed a chemistry as if they had been on the same team.

In a sense, perhaps they are, because they are very similar artists. It’s not necessarily in their style of music; Vicci is a rocker while Jamar employs hints of electronica in his songs. But they both performed material with substance and meaning behind it, and their performances were some of the most emotional this reviewer has ever seen in concert. Both of them clearly make music for some purpose other than just creating an entertaining or commercially viable sound.

Jamar appeared visibly affected as he sang his original song “High,” which he wrote during a difficult period in his life. Vicci led the audience in singing along with “Touch That Fire,” a song significant to her that was overlooked by a previous record label that made it onto her new release. Not only did the crowd get to hear good music from the two artists over a two-hour set, but they were treated to an understanding of the stories, both the highs and lows, that made them who they are today.

This is what makes a concert worth going to. It’s not necessarily the sound of the music – although it sounded fantastic; Jamar filled in wonderfully for Cee Lo on Vicci’s lead single “Come Along” – but it’s the experience, the things that you can’t capture with a CD or iTunes download. It’s about sharing something with the artists and fellow fans. The audience heard their positive messages and got to know them better than they may have from The Voice.

It was everything one could have asked for from a live music experience. At the end of the evening, the standing applause was well deserved.

Backstage Interviews

Before the show, I had the opportunity to chat with both Jamar and Vicci about the tour, their artistic outlook for the future, and if time away from The Voice made them view the show any differently. You can click here to read my interview with Vicci and here to read my interview with Jamar (or just scroll up, really).

Album and Single Review

Have you all bought Vicci’s new album Vicci yet? Or Jamar’s new single “Where Would I Be Without You”? Well, if you somehow haven’t, you should.

There are so many things to love about both releases. Firstly, as mentioned above, both Vicci and Jamar create music that has a message – and a positive one at that. Both of them have been through a lot, and they’re not just writing empty lyrics or lamenting their difficulties. They’re trying to make a difference in the world and encouraging their audience to do the same. When there’s so much auto-tuned music that doesn’t mean anything these days, that’s a refreshing difference and one that should be applauded.

And there’s no doubt that this is their music. As much as we love The Voice, sometimes there’s a disconnect from hearing one of our contestants do covers and the sound of their own original work. With these releases we get to hear Vicci and Jamar themselves – and in their cases, they’re not different from what we heard on the show at all. Vicci is still rocking with a passion like she did on Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep,” and Jamar’s “Where Would I Be Without You” is reminiscent of the spin he put on The Spinners’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” It’s nice to know that the show didn’t change them or their sound – and if you liked them on the show, you should therefore enjoy their new material.

Both releases are also undeniably catchy. I’d be surprised if you listened to “Where Would I Be Without You” and didn’t get it stuck in your head. Don’t let the electronic arrangement fool you: unlike many other artists who seem to get lost in their sounds and beats, Jamar shows off his talent as a songwriter at the same time. I don’t think you’d ever see him turn out a song that didn’t mean something.

Get the single here. It’s worth noting that Jamar’s fans need to come out in force here, as he’s still unsigned to any label and the more sales/buzz he can get, the more attention he’ll benefit from. So if you liked him on the show, you have a real chance to help him now.

My favorite track on Vicci was also on the Come Along EP: “I Can Love,” which is one of those songs that makes you just want to stand up and sing along. I’ve played it numerous times since its release last month and that hasn’t lessened my enjoyment of it any. All of the songs, however, show that Vicci’s decision to wait to release this album was the right one. Sure, it might have benefited from more attention if it had come out at the same time as Javier Colon and Dia Frampton‘s albums (or maybe not, given the relative lack of promotion Javier’s album got), but you can really grasp the craftsmanship in each piece. The effort and a fair amount of soul-searching is apparent.

Vicci didn’t get a lot of attention for this on The Voice, but she has some real power to her vocals, even if she’s not known as a “belter.” I also love the decision not to include any of the covers that she performed on the show on this album, just as Dia did before her. While we will always love her performances from the show, it’s important to establish (or reinforce) that the show was just one part of her musical career. This album is very representative of Vicci Martinez the musician as well as Vicci Martinez the individual, and it was worth the wait.

Get the album here. (Note: if you previously bought Vicci’s EP Come Along from iTunes, those tracks are on the album and you should be able to download the rest of the album without being charged for the songs you already have.)

That’s all I’ve got for this week; as usual, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow me on Twitter at @bigredchairs.