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Pimps of Joytime high step their way to smashing success

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ith music hopefuls coming to New York City in a constant stream, competition to build a following of loyal fans is particularly fierce, especially in Williamsburg, the destination for many of these musicians. “You can’t kick a can without that can hitting another musician,” said Brian J, guitarist, leader singer and overall leader of Pimps of Joytime. “You really have to be doing something special to build a following in Williamsburg.” That’s exactly what the Pimps of Joytime are doing. Since forming in Brooklyn in 2005, Brian J and his fellow “pimps” have been entertaining crowds throughout Brooklyn at venues like Black Betty with their global mix of funk, soul and afrobeat, to name only a few of the group’s influences. After recent engagements at Sounds of Brazil, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg with Meshell Ndegeocello, the band plays Luna Lounge on February 7 with Latin groover Navegante and DJ Nickodemus, New York City tastemaker and head of the band’s label, Wonderwheel. Things are just getting in motion for PJT. With live radio shows, gigs in London, a monthly engagement in San Francisco and television use of their songs in the works, doors are starting to open for the group. Even before there was a group, Brian J was working on the tracks to what came to be PJT’s debut album, “High Steppin,” a collection of 13 songs drawing from influences such as Sly and the Family Stone, Fela Kuti and the Rebirth Brass Band for music that fluidly combines elements of hip hop, dub, blues and rock and roll. All of these different styles are due in a large part to Brian J’s move to Brooklyn about ten years ago from New Jersey. Raised on 1950s rock and roll, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, when the musician moved to East Williamsburg, he was surrounded by afrobeat, afrocuban, salsa, reggaeton, Brazilian, Latin, soul, music happening in his neighborhood on a nightly basis. All the different flavors he has been exposed to jumped out and made their way into the album seamlessly. “I can’t leave music in a vacuum,” said Brian J. “When I’m out dancing to afrobeat, reggae, that becomes an authentic experience to me. That’s how I get my authenticity. I groove to it, I breathe it, I can create from that place.” Living in New Orleans and working with musicians down there was another part of Brian J’s musical education for blues, soul and New Orleans shot-calls that make their way into PJT’s sound. In addition to Brian J on guitar, rounding out the band are Israeli native Hagar Benari on bass, Chauncey Puresound on congas and vocals and Mo Roberts on drums. On stage at Luna Lounge, PJT will be joined by special guests including Toussaint, the former singer of SoulLive. Sharing the bill that night with Navegante is also a treat for Brian J, as the two go way back and the musician is featured on High Steppin’. “We’re like family,” said Brian J. “We do a lot together.” Most shows the PJT do in New York, they do with DJ Nickodemus, mixing world beats late into the night. With this funky line up, Brooklynites are guaranteed to get down to the different flavors of soul and afrocaribbean rhythms. “This is not a sit down and listen and cross your legs type of band,” said Brian J. “If you break a sweat at one of our shows, I know we’ve done our job.” With the band’s newest venture just starting to make waves and more opportunity on the horizon, the best is just seeing people enjoy his music. “After years of being in the lab cultivating, to now see it starting to blossom, it’s a pleasure to see other people reacting to it.” Pimps of Joytime play Luna Lounge (361 Metropolitan Avenue) with Navegante and DJ Nickodemus on February 7 with doors opening at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 718-384-7112 or go to lunalounge.com. For more on the PJTs, go to myspace.com/pimpsofjoytime.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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