Dojo: Road Trip
Time in a beautiful place can be the impetus for great art. One without the other, leaves a lot to be desired. Every once in a while, everything lines up and when that happens, that precious moment must be celebrated. However, the beholder must walk a fine line, they have a responsibility. They must capture the moment, and turn it into a timeless expression, that engages a multitude of emotions.
Destin, FL was the inspiration behind Dojo’s latest Road Trip . It’s a place, guitarist Brian Baggett, has been vacationing for years with his family. It’s known for gorgeous white sand beaches, and breathtaking emerald green waters. With this in mind, Baggett along with Luke Stone (drums), Chris Handley and Jeff Harshbarger (bass), create a harmonically sophisticated CD. Road Trip was produced by Brian Baggett and Luke Stone and is a masterful balance of grooves, sweeping emotions and sonic brilliance.
Last Week is the opening song, and its soaring guitar lines and clean tones, frame an infectious mid-tempo groove. There’s an openness to the chords that’s inviting – a slide guitar gently hovers on the outskirts – and an overdriven rhythm guitar bobs and weaves. This ultimately gives Last Week, a rich sonic tapestry.
The pastoral presence reveals itself again inBaytowne Wharf. A lush chord arrangement is at the core, but a subtle slide guitar theme is not to be outdone – it carries a conversation worth having. Baggett’s inventive guitar solos twists and turns with expert precision, and are superbly supported by Chris Handley and Luke Stone. A tempo change, at the halfway mark, takes us to a dramatic downtempo motif. At first, it’s bathed in electric glory, and then it quietly surrenders to a beautiful acoustic guitar treatment.
Big One has a call and response groove that gets in your bones. Baggett’s solos build, from wide intervallic leaps, to unabashed shred. A simple, but effective breakdown, shifts Big One to a head-nodding vamp, that gives drummer Luke Stone a chance to stretch out and shine.
Dojo can shift moods so effortlessly within the same song. They can offer a masterclass on versatility, and world class musicianship. Scenic 98 goes from a hypnotic intro, that features a cool guitar stutter effect, then to a lo-fi guitar line that races across the sky. Warm melodies abound, and work nicely with the song’s sway. Baggett’s sheets of sound is supported by Stone’s powerful double bass drum blast, at the song’s mid-point. Later, Stone returns at the end, with a commanding drum solo.
Dojo Fingerpicking takes a Nashville guitar staple, and places it in the context of an advanced winding groove. With Stone’s hard-hitting drum work, and Baggett’s Holdsworth-like lead work, you sure won’t be thinking about cowboy hats and pickup trucks.
Pointe of View and Grande Blvd have a nuanced approach. Both have addictive grooves, yet don’t sacrifice musicality. This is due in part, to outstanding rhythm guitar, Handley’s tasteful bass and Stone’s dazzling skills on drums.
Chris Handley’s sensuous bass workout, Times Like This, is augmented by electronic sketches, that never affect the organic quality of the track. Highlights include Harshbarger’s lyrical bass solo, and a vibe infused unison line – a nod to Frank Zappa – that’ll bring a smile to your face.
Dojo returns to flex their mighty muscles with Wish I Was There, and from the beginning you’re hit hard by this angular assault. However, you never have to worry about Dojo bombarding you, with aggression, for the sake of aggression – there’s always balance. The relentless drive, is juxtaposed gorgeously, with a spacious ambience that can’t be denied.
If you happen to be driving, while listening to Wrong Way Jam/The Oasis, the frenetic pace of the first song can turn you, into a Formula 1 Driver. Nevertheless, before you get pulled over, The Oasis will whisk you away, into a dream-like world, that will take your breath away! Baggett unleashes his lethal legato, surrounded by spacey chord explorations, Harshbarger’s agile bass lines, and Stone’s deft touch on drums.
Summer has an understated, yet elegant chord melody, overflowing with images of sun filled days and carefree nights. The sparkling acoustic guitar, rock steady rhythm, and Baggett’s heartfelt solo, remind us why we started this journey. We want to experience time in a beautiful place.
If you ever need help remembering those special moments, or if you need a soundtrack for creating new ones, take a Road Trip with Dojo. The destination is worth reaching.