Thursday, April 3, 2014
Square Zeros #14: Jordyn Blakely (Butter the Children, Tom Blacklung and the Smokestacks, Free Addiction)
When I first met Jordyn Blakely, she wasn’t yet playing in either of her current projects — Brooklyn rockers Butter the Children or Tom Blacklung and the Smokestacks — she was playing drums for The Dardys. Now, if you’ve been anywhere south of 14th Street in Manhattan, you’ve seen a Dardys sticker on a curb, or a wrecked bike, or a toilet lid, or illegally on a federal mailbox. There’s a reason for this: these dudes are hustlers, and I mean that in the best sense. They’re out there rocking, drinking, writing (great) music, and getting into hilarious trouble, always. They’ve got songs about breaking into each others’ apartments. At any given show, more than one of them will show up randomly injured. So you can imagine my surprise when I was introduced to the charming young woman who was now going to be playing drums for these guys. “This will not end well,” I thought to myself.
But, of course, it was totally fine. Sitting down with Jordyn and hearing about her earliest band, I now get why she was almost uniquely prepared for those guys: in every male rock musician, there’s still traces of the juvenile, horny teenager that was, and Jordyn has rocked with the best of them. Enter her first punk band, Free Addiction.
Right out the gate, we’ve got some thrashing on “Victim of Choking” that wouldn’t sound out of place on that old Punk-O-Rama compilation you pretend you don’t break out on road trips anymore. Jordyn informed us that “Free Addiction” is a reference to masturbation (naturally), and that “Victim of Choking” is about “Don’t tell me what to do, man — stop telling me how to live my life. Suck my dick.” Check out the thunder in those breaks.
“Mandy’s Song” is about her bandmates’ affection for fat porn, a well-enough-known affinity that fans would bring magazines to their shows for the band’s enjoyment. Say what you will about a song with the chorus “Masturbation, masturbation, I jack off everyday”, but there’s something awesome about finding a scene that doesn’t just tolerate these sentiments in musical form, but embraces them, and Jordyn had nothing but good things to say about the Maryland/Delaware punk rock scene that she came up in. That said, Jordyn’s mom — preternaturally cool in a.) letting her daughter have drums (adopt me?) and b.) allowing a raucous teenage punk band to practice in her basement — seems to have tolerated, but not embraced “Mandy’s Song.” Fair enough, Mama Blakely — but there’s no denying that ska-punk outro.
Though Jordyn came out swinging — one of her first drum crushes was drum crusher John Bonham — she set her sights on jazz, too, and snagged a couple of gigs playing with older, smoother musicians who were perhaps on the other side of their misspent youths. After a stint playing on a children’s album (including the dynamite deep cut “Trying Vegetables”), she was poached for the project Allan & Friends, where she supplied drums for local Virginia jazz musician Allan Harrington. Reading over his compliments in the liner notes to the album Tick Tock, she reminisced fondly about the adult musicians who saw something in her nascent talent and gave her the impulse to consider music professionally.
Thus armed with punk thrash and jazz nuance, Jordyn has played drums in more New York City projects than I could count without some serious effort. You can check her out with Butter the Children at Grand Victory Wednesday, April 9 or at Pianos Tuesday, April 29, and with Tom Blacklung at Emet on Friday, April 18.