Hot-shot Philadelphia guitarist Joe Jordan and his prog-metal band the Experiment (JJX) are playing as part of WMMR/Jaxon's Local Shots Mistletoe Jam tonight. The gig will be as bittersweet as his upcoming 2015 album, Lemonade.
"We named it exactly why you'd think we would," says Jordan, 28. The album grew out of about a year's worth of long tours, sour management changes (a problem that's all good now), and personal struggles. Jordan says it's richer and more accessible than 2012's Twisted Visions. "We're still heavy," he says. JJX still stays true to its prog/hard psychedelic sound (think Hendrix fronting Tool), he says, but Lemonade's rock-outs and power ballads are "closer to a Foo Fighters" vibe.
"We still rock hard," says Jacqui Gore, 61, JJX's drummer and Jordan's mother. She started playing with her son on Christmas Day 1999. "This show is her 15th anniversary," Jordan says. But it's also her last with the band. "We tour a lot, and she's always made the marks, even now," Jordan says. "I've always left it open-ended that if she ever felt like she was slowing, she could stop."
Jordan noticed that some of Gore's pummeling live rhythms seemed labored. So did Gore, who has never slacked off - not from mothering her son, and not from maintaining a profile as a drummer in the West Philly lounge and session scene playing blues, funk, and jazz. She hit the skins long before she had Joe Jordan, and she continued to drum while Jordan was a tot. "I was almost always with her," he says. "I knew her chops." It was only after he realized his mother had a yen for Pantera that they joined forces. "She's been the hardest-working member of this band," he says. And its most stylish, as she's never without a long cigarette holder for dramatic effect, to say nothing of an Afro that would make Questlove jealous.
"It's life, man," says Gore of having to chill out. "I always love stretching out the farthest, be it jazz or metal. But I can now see why Billy Cobham and all the fusion dudes put down their sticks. It's not quitting. The body just slows." Since joining JJX, Gore has been faithful to its rigorous schedule of shows from the East Coast to the West. She never slowed her roll, always jamming harder and faster than even Jordan could imagine. "But when you start looking at a set list's length, the timing of it, and pray for no encore, that's when you start reassessing the might that you have as a drummer," she says. "My brain kept me going for as much time as I had to be there, but then I was done. We had to find someone." Note that "we": She'll continue being part of the music, her son's and that of others.
Nor will she stop drumming. She appears on Lemonade and will continue recording "the low-impact stuff" with her son. "She can do the 230 b.p.m.'s, the 6/8 rhythms," Jordan says. "It can just be tough on the tendons live." While Jordan is working new percussionists, she's already planning her next gig: "I'm basically looking into the blues area, and jazz. Still playing. Just not as rigorous as what Joe does. I like the intensity. It just has to flow differently."