Sonos Studios, the 4,000 square foot sonically-tuned venue in LA’s La Brea Art and Design District, hosted the legendary Jimmy Cliff last night for a unique night of listening, story telling and performance. With a select crowd of industry types and lucky fans who won contests, attendees were treated to a special night with the reggae legend. Take a look at some photos from the event that show off the event space and what it was like to experience one of the greatest reggae legends of all time in a private acoustic performance. Full review and setlist after the jump.
Sonos Studios is a fun and interesting place to listen to music. The whole space has been designed with listening perfection in mind. Acoustic and sound dampening foam lines the ceiling to prevent echoing, Hi-Fi speakers are set up along the walls and from the ceiling as well, and there’s even a cool sound experiment in the back corner that allows you and your friends to create musical tones through touch and frequencies. It all comes together in a very minimal environment. Last night, the crowd got to break in the set-up at Sonos Studio by listening to a few tracks from Jimmy’s upcoming new album REBIRTH.
The audience listened to the latest tracks from REBIRTH as Jimmy answered a few questions about his past experiences and influences in the music world. The standout track from REBIRTH (produced by punk icon Tim Armstrong of Rancid and Operation Ivy) was the single “One More”. The sing-a-long tune from the album had an interesting back story. There’s no super deep meaning the to track, according to Jimmy he made it up on the spot during a music festival in Europe when the crowd started chanting “one more song!” in an attempt to entice an encore. Jimmy simply stepped up to the mic, and created the song in that moment live in front of the crowd. Honesty like that was coming from Jimmy all night. He was calming and genuine in everything he said. When asked why he decided to cover the Clash’s “Guns Of Brixton”, Jimmy explained that it was his management that came up with the idea, and after hearing the song he thought it was a good idea too.
Hearing this type of refreshing honesty from an artist with nothing to hide was a highlight of the night. It’s what Jimmy is about- there’s not bullshit here and its not needed. Jimmy dove into stories about working together with Tim Armstrong, Joe Strummer of The Clash, and even a chance meeting he had with Jimmy Hendrix. While the night would have been amazing enough had it stopped there, it was about to get better. Jimmy performed a short yet intimate and touching acoustic set for the audience. Jimmy started with “Sitting In Limbo” and the new single “One More” to open things up. He was even able to get the industry types to sing back in the chorus for “One More”- something not easy to do in this town! In what was probably the most moving moment of the night, Jimmy performed a very raw a cappella version of a song that you can’t find on any of his albums. Telling the story of struggle and the fight for survival that some people go through everyday, the song echoed through the hearts of everyone in attendance with it’s somber yet poignant chorus of “cry no more”. The night was capped with “Many Rivers To Cross” and “World Upside Down”- classic Jimmy tracks.
Last night was a success for Sonos, the upcoming launch of Sonos Studios, and for music fans lucky enough to attend. Jimmy Cliff is a walking legend, and his vocal prowess is as good and strong as ever. He is one of the figureheads of his genre of music- a genre that he helped create and mold. But even more than that, he is a symbol of the purity of musical expression that transcends any genre.