With our dedicated founder, Jerry Bryant, continuing his daily battle with stage four cancer, we at JBTV have started to seek out different foundations and local health awareness outlets to promote. A little while back, Jerry conducted an interview with founder of local non-profit organization, Imerman Angels. This Chicago-based cancer support community urges cancer fighters to join, in that this non-profit provides personalized one-on-one support not only to fighters, but also survivors and caregivers.
Each person with cancer who chooses to enroll in the free program is paired up with a cancer survivor -- called Mentor Angels -- the same age and gender as them, as well as someone who possesses similar interests as them.
Founder, Jonny Imerman was diagnosed with testicular cancer at 26 years old and was let down that he struggled to find people the same age as him who was struggling with or had struggled with cancer. Although he had the support of his family and friends, he wanting to confide in someone who knew exactly how his current situation felt. In 2003, he came up with the idea for this non-profit organization and he later founded Imerman Angels. The core values of the organization are as follows: mission first, people first; create awareness and inspiration; fundraising as mission focused; create community; build alliances; stay relaxed and have fun; stay innovative and improve; be humble. Each operating philosophy of the organization is in place to help guide each Imerman Angel and Mentor.
However, with the help of Imerman Angels’ dedicated supporters and contributors, they have had the opportunity to expand to Michigan, Los Angeles, and New York. This will further help people with cancer have the motivation and strength to continue fighting their fight.
Even if you have not survived cancer nor are suffering from the disease, you are still encouraged to help out at Imerman Angels. The organization allows volunteers to join. The volunteer application is on the website, as is the directions to the Headquarters for orientations.
You can donate money to and help out Imerman Angels by visiting their website, www.imermanangels.org.
Filed by Ava Butera
Photo by Imerman Angels
The days leading up to Laura Jane Grace & Devouring Mothers’ much anticipated performance on the JBTV Stage were ones filled with an anxious me, eager and ecstatic to get to witness the band live in action. In preparation, I watched a ton of Devouring Mothers’ music videos, streamed their music, fell in love with their sound, and read tons of articles about the band -- to say that I was excited for the show on Nov. 7th was an understatement.
As soon as the band arrived to the studio, gear in tow, I was dreaming of 12:30 -- the time they were set to grace the stage. With each member showing gratitude for the invite to play on the JBTV Stage and extending their cordialness to each staff member, it further solidified my new love for Laura Jane Grace & Devouring Mothers.
As a casual fan of Against Me! and knowing their immense contribution to the punk community, rock music, and later the LGBTQ+ community, I partially knew what to expect from Devouring Mothers, knowing rock legend, Laura Jane Grace would definitely add her musical flare and insane talent to the new band. I did not realize though that I would be highly anticipating the release of Devouring Mothers’ debut album, Bought to Rot, shortly after the band’s performance ended. However, knowing prior that the band’s debut would be released through Chicago’s own, Bloodshot Records, I was extremely hopeful since the label is highly regarded, not only in the music industry but in the Windy City itself.
During the band’s soundcheck, I had the pleasure to sit through it and witness a sneak peek into their performance. In the past, most bands who have played JBTV simply soundcheck individual elements and maybe play one song. However, after checking their individual instruments and ensuring everything was properly working for the show, Devouring Mothers’ played four full songs during their soundcheck. This made the entire staff of JBTV hyped up for the performance.
After the room filled up to maximum capacity and the entire crowd filled in, the anticipation further heightened. Moment later, Laura Jane Grace & Devouring Mothers walked onto the JBTV Stage and applause erupted amongst everyone present. They kicked off their set with the track, “Manic Depression.” Although it sounds upbeat and fast-paced, when examining the lyrics, it details the story of a protagonist dealing with the issue. Songs like these -- although can be touchy at times -- help listeners realize that they are not alone in times of loneliness and worthlessness and that even musicians struggle with mental health issues.
The band then zipped through songs like “Reality Bites”, “Friendship Song”, and “Born in Black”. All great new tracks from their debut album. They then also included “Hotel Song” and “Amsterdam Hotel Room” -- two track obviously detailing Laura’s experience in hotels. Before playing the songs, she explained how most of her life she spent long periods of time living in hotel rooms, due to life on the road and vast amounts of touring.
Before playing every song, Laura made sure to explain the meaning behind each one, where she wrote them, and what they meant to her. I especially loved her choice to inform the crowd and fans on the true meaning behind Devouring Mothers’ music. Barely any of the artists and bands I’ve witnessed live have ever shared the meaning behind their music with attendees, but Laura made sure to.
As Devouring Mothers’ performance was coming to a close, I was still ready for more. Between drummer, Adam “Atom” Willard’s mesmerizing drummer technique, bassist Marc Jacob Hudson’s insanely catchy bass lines, and of course Laura’s passion and willpower, I was considering making it out to the band’s show at Cobra Lounge later that evening. However, I very surprised to hear the last song the band had in store for all of us, one titled “I Hate Chicago”.
Since I am a Florida-native myself, just like Laura Jane Grace is, and moved to Chicago, like her too, I was shocked to discover a song detailing the grievances about the city I dreamed about living in since I was a child. However, by the end of the song, I was whipping out my phone and downloading it. Instead of a negative, in-your-face song, it was more of a fun song. I found myself laughing at the lyrics, due to the relatability of each phrase spoken. Because yeah, as a recent Chicago transplant, I hate O’Hare, don’t necessarily care about the Smashing Pumpkins, and could care less about the Cubs, the White Sox, the Blackhawks, or the Bulls!
All in all, Laura Jane Grace & Devouring Mothers put on an incredible performance on the JBTV Stage.One I will remember for a long time!
Be sure to stream and purchase their debut album, Bought to Rot, which is out now!
Filed by Ava Butera
Photos by Katie Hovland & Ava Butera
“What’s more rock n roll than participating in the democratic process, am I right?”
When the word grandson comes to mind, reassuring cheek pinches or home made cookies may be the initial thought, but New Jersey born, Toronto raised musician Grandson slaps those pinches away, and crumbles up those cookies to demand accountability from those in power.
“We’re being force fed culturally into a sense of apathy,” remarked Grandson during his interview with Jerry Bryant after his JBTV debut on September 13th, “but I do think that they’re people that care and [are] trying to imagine a system that is held accountable. Untethered from the best interests of corporations or big money, and responsible to their voters that elected them there in the first place.”
Grandson is often compared to Rage Against the Machine given the highly political subject matter touched upon in his songs, but unlike his predecessor, Grandson offers more optimistic and constructive ways for his audience to utilize their anger to make needed changes in their communities. This is not an indictment of Rage Against the Machine; they are one of the greatest bands of all time, but in this current political climate in America—where subtlety lands on deaf ears—people need more from artists other than shared anger. What people need is an artist like Grandson, who not only creatively articulates people’s anger and sadness, but also gives them a road map on how to transform those emotions into empowerment and hope.
“I’m excited about being able to go city to city and talk to these kids. I do believe that there is this incredibly, exciting, progressive wave of young people that care and are pissed off, and I’m just trying to give them a soundtrack,” remarked Grandson. Not only is Grandson giving these young people a soundtrack, he is giving them one with incredible musicianship and stage presence—evidently seen in his first song that he performed on the JBTV stage “6:00.” The song starts off with a mournful riff from guitarist Ramón Blanco that quickly gets interrupted by David Rehmann’s drumming, Renzo Bravo’s keyboards, and Grandson’s lyrics. “6:00” is an audible blitzkrieg of festering anger and clenched fists.
While one could easily appreciate the song simply for its ability to make a crowd mosh and take the title at face value, Grandson Trojan horse’s social commentary on how apathetic the evening news has become reporting on racial injustice. “I wanted to create an urgent backdrop around this headline that is coming across the 6 o’clock news of ‘A Man Dying’ someone like Eric Garner being choked to death in broad daylight,” explained Grandson. “I was frustrated and confused as to what it means to be an American. What it means to be an ally for people that are being persecuted, disproportionately.”
It’s true. While many people do want to help eradicate these horrid occurrences from happening, many people—specifically white people—get confused on how to help out. For some, that confusion leads to researching how they can help diminish systemic oppression, but for most, that confusion leads to indifference as a way to self preserve their emotional well being. With lyrics like “how can we stand by” and “he held his hands high,” Grandson says fuck your well being and do your part.
After Grandson’s call to arms against police brutality, he tackled another issue in his next song that is plaguing America—drug addiction. Beginning with a strung out bass line and the withdrawn lyrics of “I was higher than the nosebleed,” “Overdose” musically sounds like the beginning of a drug stupor with no end in sight. “[It’s] a song about our relationship to addiction as a form of escapism.” Although the song paints drugs in a negative light, Grandson’s not trying to demonize users. “It’s not to vilify people that naturally find themselves in this situations. The more empathy we can have and understanding of how people got to that point, we can understand how to help them get out of it. Addiction is a mental health issue—which shouldn’t be incarcerating people that have addiction to narcotics or illicit substances. We should be helping them through rehabilitation.” Instead of running from our problems using drugs as a source of transportation, Grandson’s suggests through the atmospheric “Overdose” that we face our problems head on and help others that are still riding the rail.
His next songs on the JBTV stage were “Bills,” “Despicable,” and “Best Friends” and discussed the more internal journeys we all face. Whether it’s the stresses that never-ending “Bills” cause, navigating self hatred in “Despicable,” or cutting off toxic people in “Best Friends,” Grandson knows that in order to expect change in the world, one has to do change within themselves. “You can be your best self, I believe in you, but sometimes you might have to cut off some people in your life that are holding you back.”
Following this detour into inner struggles, Grandson returned to his social commentary with “Thoughts and Prayers”—an ode to the complacency of America’s relationships to guns and mass shootings. He introduced the song with “I can’t wait until this song is no longer relevant and is up in a museum somewhere.” The crowd could hear the anger and desperation in Grandson’s voice as he belted out “Another press conference/Nothing gets accomplished/The shooter's an accomplice/Money is the motive/The wars in the street/Watch history repeat.” The repetitive nature of the lyrics and music of “Thoughts and Prayer” critique the cyclical nature and frequency of these travesties. “At what point do your thoughts and prayers lead to tangible change being made to mitigate what is now an unprecedented epidemic?” Sadly as an attempt to answer Grandson’s question raised during his interview— months prior to the most recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting—we have yet to reach that point.
Grandson ended his set with “Stick Up” and his most famous song “Blood // Water.” With their blood pumping bass lines, guitars, and passionate singing by Grandson, “Stick Up” and “Blood // Water” caused the JBTV crowd to mosh to the point that Grandson jumped offstage to join the pit. Both songs deal with the desperation we all feel with the politicians in power, but instead of wallowing in that desperation; Grandson energizes the listener to use their individual power to change the cultural landscape.
Reform. Rehabilitation. Power. Accountability. These are all reoccurring themes in Grandson thunderous songs and lyrics. Whether it’s regarding the institutions of society, or the journey through self-reflection and self-acceptance, Grandson’s music is not for the stagnant. He holds a mirror to society while also holding one up to your face and his own. Society is made up of individuals, and while Grandson addresses the overarching issues with society, he wants us to hold ourselves accountable. Grandson is America’s canary in the coal mine regarding issues of race, class, addiction, and gun control in America. We are fortunate that this canary isn’t waiting to keel over to tell us we are in trouble.
While introducing “Stick Up,” Grandson exclaimed the importance of voting to the audience, “[Find the] candidates out there with your best interests in mind, that are not influenced by corporate money. That’s something I’m passionate about, it’s a part of having this power, we gotta use it, and make the world just a little bit of a better place. Can we do that?” The JBTV crowd answered with motivated cheers. Grandson followed this comment with a slight joke, “What’s more rock n roll than participating in the democratic process, am I right?”
Although it was meant to be taken as a joke of sorts, there is nothing more rock ‘n’ roll than participating in the democratic process by voting. Giving a voice to the voiceless and allowing people to address problems within their communities in a cathartic, constuctive way—applies to both rock ‘n’ roll and voting.
Hopefully you allowed your voice to be heard by voting in the Midterm Elections. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer Grandson to have a harder time finding subject matter for his music—and I’m sure he would agree.
Filed by Alex Ghere
Photos by Bobby Talamine
Welsh alternative band, The Joy Formidable graced the JBTV stage for the third time this past weekend, not only to a packed venue, but also to an extremely eager crowd, anxious to witness the band’s Chicago return. The band themselves were very excited to play at JBTV, and gushed about how much they enjoy being in Chicago, since based on their experience, the Chicago music fans truly enjoy the music and have a love for it, unlike the fans in any other city they’ve played in previously.
Unlike The Joy Formidable’s past two JBTV performances, lead singer Ritzy Bryan and bassist and vocalist Rhydian Dafydd decided to employ acoustic guitars and foot drums for this stripped down performance -- something quite different for the band, but definitely a treat to all present at the show. Having to leave drummer Matt Thomas in Minneapolis due to a logistics issues and almost not making it to the studio themselves, Ritzy and Rhydian utilized what instruments they brought with them. Ritzy even saying herself that it was nice to switch it up, but sad to not have Matt with them for the performance.
Since the band just released their sixth studio album, Aarth, fans were unsure whether to expect a set full of new material or one filled with old favorites. But to everyone’s surprise, The Joy Formidable perfectly chose a mix of old and new songs to create an awesome set. Not to mention each song having a different vibe, due to them being played acoustically.
The set kicked off with the raring and foreboding song, “Little Blimp,” a fan-favorite from the band’s album, Wolf’s Law. When played normally with a full band, it’s a loud and boisterous one however, even played acoustically, The Joy Formidable brought the heat and had the entire crowd off their feet and excited for the rest of songs they had in store.
Next the band played older tracks, “Whirring” and “The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade”, both from their sophomore effort, The Big Roar. Between Ritzy’s soft vocals and Rhydian’s exceptional guitar skills, both songs sounded effervescent and beautiful in their reimagined acoustic form.
When The Joy Formidable transitioned into their next song, “Y Bluen Eira”, the crowd danced along, but soon realized that it was not in fact in English but instead entirely in Gaelic, Rhydian’s first language and Ritzy’s second. Despite fans not understanding what it meant, The Joy Formidable continued to play the song from their newest album. Afterwards, they explained that the track was in their native language and informed the crowd on some facts about Wales and Gaelic.
The Joy Formidable then went on to play another new song “Dance of the Lotus”, which received a very positive reaction amongst the crowd, as well as the staff here at JBTV. Lead singer Ritzy also discussed the different approach they took when choosing a music video idea of the song, when chatting with Jerry. The band decided to collaborate with Boston-based animation company, TRLLM to bring this track to life in the visual form.
For the rest of the band’s set, they continued to mix it up between old favorites and new releases, surprising fans with each song played. The entire crowd was floored by The Joy Formidable’s superb performance and were left wanting more, long after the band left the stage
Filed by Ava Butera
Photos by Ava Butera