by Brittany Nader
Postmodern Jukebox, a rotating collective of musicians who perform covers of Top 40 songs in a Motown, jazz, ragtime or old-time style, will stop at E.J. Thomas Hall during their “Back in Black & White Tour” on October 24.
PMJ is recognized for performing modern songs in various classic styles, including a sultry Marilyn Monroe-esque performance of Britney Spears’s “Oops!… I Did It Again” and The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” as a traditional New Orleans dirge.
The collective has released close to 20 full-length albums, each containing around 20 covers of contemporary hits.
Scott Bradlee, the creator of Postmodern Jukebox, began recording videos of the old-fashioned combo’s covers in his living room after struggling to make it as a jazz musician in New York City. Before inviting other musicians and vocalists to formally join his project, Scott released a video, “A Motown Tribute to Nickelback,” that introduced audiences to the talent the bandleader and arranger recruited for his new concept.
“I formed Postmodern Jukebox as way to bring the classic sounds I loved back into the mainstream, and to build a platform to celebrate real, unadulterated, deserving talent,” Scott says.
He achieved popularity after releasing a ragtime medley of popular ‘80s songs in 2009. The video went so viral that author Neil Gaiman tweeted about it. Soon, Scott joined forces with a group of musicians he admired to form a full band, which would eventually evolve into a touring collective.
Postmodern Jukebox includes more than 50 performers, ensuring no two performances are ever exactly alike. The rotating lineup sometimes includes tap dancers to accompany the music and add to the old-time, vaudevillian style of entertainment.
Many of the collective’s performance videos have since achieved the coveted “viral” status, reaching millions of shares on Facebook, Twitter and the like. In May of this year, Scott’s videos surpassed 1 billion views on YouTube.
As Scott says, the spirit of Postmodern Jukebox seems to lie in each member having an “old soul” sensibility, at least in the style of music they perform and in their vintage-inspired outfits.
The collective kicked off its “Back in Black & White” tour this fall, making stops across Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Scott and his band will play new cities along the tour to transport modern audiences back in time, from the roaring ‘20s to the swinging ‘60s and totally tubular ‘80s.
Postmodern Jukebox will perform at E.J. Thomas Hall on Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. VIP packages are available for $118, which includes special merchandise. Regular ticket prices start at $38.
Brittany Nader has been a professional writer and marketer in Akron for the last five years.
(Photo courtesy of Xavier Industries)