Thursday, December 16, 2004
A few weeks ago, at an Unknown Jeromes show in the Lava Lounge, it was a bit hard to keep track of everything that was happening onstage. During an energetic version of the Bob Marley classic “Lively Up Yourself,” vocalist Michael Annotti started singing the lyrics as fellow vocalists Nicole DiFranco and Stuart Mahoney danced together in front of the band. Behind Annotti, the three members of the Bubonic Brass stood readying their instruments for a horn blast. To the right, DJ Luis Ponce was standing over the turntables. Meanwhile, the band’s bassist, guitarist and drummer kept the music on track.
Like their stage show, the Unknown Jeromes’ history is complicated. The local reggae and funk band started in 1993 when drummer Jason Tabosa recruited three musicians to play with him at a New Year’s Eve gig in a Santa Cruz venue known as Emi’s. Over the years, as the group evolved from a cover band to an original music outfit, the band’s personnel continually changed, with Tabosa as the only constant.
When the band performed at last year’s First Night Monterey celebration, the Unknown Jeromes had a new lineup, including Annotti, DiFranco and Mahoney. Annotti joined the group because he liked the Unknown Jeromes’ vibe, soul and conscious lyrics.
“I thought it was a good match for what I could bring,” he says. “It’s the same thing I’m doing in my own project.”
After the successful New Year’s Eve show with the new lineup, Tabosa abruptly moved to Hawaii. Without Tabosa, the Unknown Jeromes are performing their last club show this Saturday night. Then, Tabosa will return to Monterey to perform with the band on New Year’s Eve at the First Night celebration. After First Night, Tabosa says, he will disband the group.
At their recent Lava Lounge show, the group showed no signs of an impending demise, plowing through a handful of originals including a funk number, “Destiny”; an R&B jam, “Open Up”; and a hip-hop track, “Can I Know Your Name?” One standout song was an original Tabosa and Annotti hazy rock tune titled “Good Man Down.” While Mahoney rapped lyrics and DiFranco sang like an R&B diva, Annotti sounded like a ringer for Sublime’s Brad Nowell.
Though it is hard to tell what will happen to the rest of the Unknown Jeromes, Annotti’s musical future is secure: the Hollister resident is recording a solo album with Philadelphia producer Paul Vanderbeck.
The Unknown Jeromes play the Lava Lounge in Club Octane at 321 Alvarado St., Monterey, Saturday at 10pm. No cover. 646-9244.