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Michael Cunio warms up the audience at the Bick. Michael is the MC and host for musical group Post Modern Jukebox. Levi Dewitt

‘Postmodern Jukebox’ jazzes up modern music

The Bicknell Center hosted “hot jazz” and other musical styles in a genre-bending performance by YouTube sensation “Postmodern Jukebox.” 

The concert took place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. Postmodern Jukebox, originally formed by pianist Scott Bradlee, is known for recording songs by modern era artists and performers in varying styles, especially the musical styles of the 1920s and ‘30s. The performers in the touring group included singers Robyn Adele Anderson, Dani Armstrong, Michael Cunio, and David Simmons Jr, guitarist Mike Chisnall, bassist Eric Heveron-Smith, pianist Logan Evan Thomas, drummer and band leader Martin Diller, clarinetist and saxophonist AJ Kluth, and trombonist Tim Rechen, as well as tap dancing by Demi Remick. 

“There’s nothing better in the world than live music,” Chisnall said. “It’s one of those things that’s always constant… there will be ripples and waves, but live music is always there.” 

Chisnall, before touring with Postmodern Jukebox, trained primarily in jazz at music colleges in London and Leeds in the United Kingdom, and became acquainted with Postmodern Jukebox after freelancing as a session musician. 

“It (music) makes everyone smile,” Chisnall said. “It’s never the same twice… I think it’s one of the most important things young people can do, is to see live music. It makes them better people.” 

Postmodern Jukebox exists as a collective of musicians with a roster that is constantly shifting out players for various tours and picking up musicians when needed to play. 

“Postmodern Jukebox is a really great group,” Rechen said. “We perform modern music in a variety of styles, especially jazz and music of the ‘50s and ‘60s. We try to have a good time on stage and we invite the audience to do the same.” 

The performance was a part of their “Welcome to the ‘20s 2.0” tour and included many modern hits in different musical styles of the 20th century. They opened the concert with a ‘20s jazz arrangement of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, and quickly moved through songs. Depending on the song, some of the backing band switched instruments, for example Chisnall played both guitar and banjo, and bassist Heveron-Smith played both acoustic bass, electric bass, and tuba.  

“I loved it,” said Nikolas Spencer, sophomore in biology. “I thought it was so much fun. The energy was insane. I liked the dancing, and really enjoyed the informality of it… It wasn’t formal whatsoever and that’s what made it amazing in my opinion.” 

Spencer said he had never heard of Postmodern Jukebox before he was asked by Bicknell staff to volunteer to take tickets and usher audience members, but he added that he would come to a Postmodern Jukebox show again “for sure.” 

“It supports smaller groups,” Spencer said. “I don’t know how many people have actually heard of them before tonight… They asked how many… and a lot of people said, ‘No.’ So, it’s important to support the little groups.” 

After their evening in Pittsburg, the Postmodern Jukebox tour continued to Lawrence, and from there will continue their tour as scheduled including locations on the East Coast and Canada. 

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