Grandstand Jockeys – An Xperience Interview

Written by on January 8, 2024

Grandstand Jockeys – An Xperience Interview – by Liam Sweeny.

We reached out to RA Burris of the band Grandstand Jockeys for a few words.

RRX: I got your CD from Rob Smittix, and I’ve been jamming it out in my car for weeks. Love the sound, love it. Because it’s straight rock, but the melody lines are quirky. The melody lines sound like something Ween might do (sorry, everything cool sounds like Ween to me.) Where is the odd influence that brings out that unique sound?

RB: That’s a great and kinda complex question. So ok I have been a musician for many years so there are more than one influence that help drive it but for the most part the melodies are just there almost like out of nowhere. More times than not I have the melodies before I have the words. It’s almost like they are out there just waiting to be picked up like radio waves it’s hard to explain but I just hear them.

RRX: You have new members in the lineup. And people here might not know who’s in your ‘not new’ lineup. So roll call. Who are you? Who plays the guitar and who plays the didgeridoo? And was it easy for the new people to slip into the band, or were there challenges adapting the current setlist?

RB: Ok so we are the Grandstand Jockeys and we consist of Ron Burris- vocals and Guitar, Brian Rex – Drums and backing vocals, the new guy Morgan Smith on guitar, and finally Eric Braymer who has been in the band in many different roles but currently is filling in on Bass and backing vocals.  So The Jockeys have had a few lineup changes and we have been blessed to have worked with all of them. When new members come in or go out there is always a little challenge in finding the right person. It is not just one thing, yes being a good musician helps but having a great attitude and willingness to work is important as well. We have truly been blessed to have so many amazing musicians who gave us more than I can articulate. These are all great musicians in their own right who know how and what to do so with each transition it’s been pretty smooth

RRX: Thank you for doing a Lobby Session at our station. Mighty cool of you. Do you think that live recording sessions like that offer you anything that just playing out doesn’t? Do you feel you can be more free? And you guys were acoustic, is that a much different beast for the band?

RB: So first we want to say thank you for having us do your lobby session, we had a blast and it was a new experience for us kinda like our own unplugged. I’m going to date myself here but I remember watching Nirvana doing MTV’s unplugged and I always wanted to have that moment for myself/ band. The most exciting part of it is being vulnerable out there, kinda like tight rope walking. Plus it allows the audience to hear a different side of the music.

RRX: Grandstand Jockeys is playing in support of A Wilhelm Scream at Empire Underground. Wilhelm Scream is a national act. What’s the show going to be like? Is it you two or are there going to be other acts?

RB: So Willhelm scream is from Boston and they’re national act. We haven’t had the pleasure to play with these guys before I don’t think that they’ve had hard times. Maybe they have not two versed in their history but what I have heard of them is some really good music and we’re excited about the opportunity to share a stage with them and locals Girth Control and Senior Living. And you and your audience are already doing something to help I just letting us spread the word and we really appreciate that.

RRX: You have other shows coming, like a show in Philadelphia at Century, then back to Empire with the Noncompliants, the Hauntings, and Black Belt Jones. Are you and the aforementioned bands ‘tour-buddies’? Will the Empire show be your first time playing together? If so, how did you all connect?

RB: So yes we will be playing a show at the rock club century in Philadelphia this will be our first trip to Philadelphia and we’re very excited about the opportunity to expand our fan base and meet the people of Philadelphia , we are also take the show to Stamps in Buffalo on 3/23 another first for us and we are stoked, Plus we have two more shows coming up at Empire Underground on 3/16. We will be playing with my old band NonCompliants which I was the drummer of before starting the Grandstand Jockeys and switching instruments. Plus we will be sharing the stage with Black Belt Jones – love those guys. Eric Braymer who is filling in on bass for us currently is the guitarist for Black Belt Jones. He is my best friend and we have a long storied musical history.  Also we get to rock out with The Hauntings on this bill and they have been a favorite of mine for a while now, we have been trying to get a gig together and it finally is going to happen!! I want to put a very public thank you to Mike Valente & Empire Underground. He has given us tremendous opportunities and support and TGJ has nothing but love and respect for him. Cheers Mike.

RRX: Here’s where you answer the question I didn’t ask. Remarks? Comments? Educate, enlighten, emote – the floor is yours

RB: So 2023 has been a super busy year for TGJ. we released 2 Ep’s to complete our Ep trilogy that started in 2021 with release of our first Ep “Win”.  The  “Place” Ep was released on 6/27/23 as was the “&$how” Ep on 10/31/23  and we had a host of great musicians who came in the studio with us to lend their talents I’m sure you know a few of them on the “Place” ep we had  Brian Mangini add some B3 we had Rob Smittix do a great monologue, we had my very talented niece Kyra Pearl do some vocals, we had the super talented Jared Weed who played with us for a short time drop some amazing leads, and Dave Parker (Coheed and Cambria / like Astronauts/the prize fighter inferno) did synth and guitar work and then on the  release “&$how”  we had some more Jared Weed dropping solos, the world famous Alex Torres played congas and more Dave Parker on synth.

All 3 Eps were mastered at Sterling sound in NYC by Grammy Award winner Randy Merril frankly Everyone involved has been great from photographers Jim Wertman and Eric Johnson, Overit Multi Media and Dan Dinsmore really everyone involved has been amazing and it has led to a very good 2023 where we got to open up for some of the biggest artists in the country like Crobot, Austin Mead, Dillon Dostal, Rickshaw Billy’s burger patrol, 96 Bitter beings, JJ Savage, Kendra Morris and Sgt Scag and we played with home town bands from all over and they were all great and lots of fun to share the stage with.

Speaking of stages in 2023 we played at The Midway cafe – Boston, The Chance theatre – Poughkeepsie (twice) Empire Underground, No Fun,  and We even got to play the Troy Pig out and we have Radioradiox Art and Rob to thank for that. They both have been amazingly supportive and we can’t thank them enough there are so many new and exciting things coming up in 2024 and we are excited!


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