OGDEN — Contentious election season got you down? Dreading all the political baggage headed our way with Tuesday’s upcoming midterm elections?
Maybe it’s time for a little Joshy Soul & The Cool.
Just in time to save us from our partisan divisions, the vintage soul band — fronted by one of the coolest looking and sounding musicians around — will perform Monday evening at Peery’s Egyptian Theater.
Frontman Joshua Strauther (none other than Joshy Soul himself) says Monday’s free concert in downtown Ogden is a time to “celebrate and have a good time.” He encourages folks to leave the partisan noise at the door.
“There are so many things going on with voting and political things, and sometimes we bring that into a concert,” Strauther said. “But on Monday we just need to let loose — not ignoring what’s going on in the world outside, not that it’s not happening, but realizing that music is the uniting factor in life.”
Joshy Soul & The Cool will take the stage at 7 p.m. Monday to perform classic Motown music from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, along with a heaping helping of Strauther’s originals. He’s released one album, 2016’s “Vintage Dreamin’,” and plans on heading back into the studio for his sophomore album, due out this spring.
“I’ll play almost every song off the first record, and a couple of the new songs, then have covers of James Brown, Sam Cooke and others,” he said.
Strauther’s music has been called many things. Vintage R&B. Neo soul. Throwback Motown. But whatever you call it, the seven-member outfit produces a “big sound” that features three devastating decades of soul music.
“It’s a bunch of young guys, playing music from 50 years ago,” he said. “It’s old soul music, modernly done.”
Between his solo work, shows with The Cool and backing fellow Utah singer Alex Boye, Strauther keeps fairly busy. He just returned from a tour on the East Coast, and heads back to New York and Boston next week.
“Just trying to make it happen, he explains.
Strauther grew up in the Los Angeles area, where he was exposed to his grandmother’s and mother’s vinyl records. Mom used to take him to jazz festivals, too. Strauther started playing the piano relatively late, at age 18, but soon found that with some hard work and practice he could hear almost anything and then play it.
“I’d spend four hours or more a day playing, which got me to where I am now,” he said.
Strauther wishes he hadn’t learned the piano by ear. It’s a lesson he tries to impart to other up-and-coming musicians.
“I always tell people, ‘Don’t learn by ear,’” he said. “People use that too much, and then they don’t learn theory and respect for music.”
Eventually, Strauther found his way to Utah for a musical director position with a church here. He also attended the University of Utah, where he picked up much of the musical theory he’d been sorely lacking.
That was eight years ago, long enough to now consider himself a Utahn.
“I guess so,” he says. “I mean, I’ve survived the winters here.”
The look of Joshy Soul & The Cool is almost as important as the sound. They wear vintage suits and hats, transporting audiences to a long-ago era. Strauther believes looking the part helps in singing the part.
“I can wear a T-shirt and sing my songs all fine, but when I have that suit on I imagine being back in that era,” he said. “It’s like taking you to another era for an hour and a half.”
Strauther insists that “the clothes were made better back then, the music was made better, too.”
The country, however, struggled like it does today. Strauther points out that, as bad as things seem in 2018, we were just as divided as a country 50 years ago.
“That’s how it was in the ‘60s,” he said. “Yes, all my heroes were speaking up, but they also brought people together with music. And it’s always been a divide — Jew, gentile, Republican, Democrat. We’re always going to think differently, but we can still treat each other as humans. That’s the missing factor today.”