“From waking up, listening to music to get into a great mood and seize the day, to my train ride playlist and how that sets my tone for the entire day, my mentality, my focus – it’s everything,” says Katie Jones, programming associate at National Sawdust and founder, curator and producer of music night The Revolution.
Music has always been an integral role of Katie’s life starting early on as a child when her parents used to play Joe Cocker, Bonnie Raitt, or Black Crowes while whipping up breakfast on Saturday mornings. “I woke up every day experiencing the beauty in music, that it could heal in times of injustice, grief, sorrow, even death, birth, hell – even rebirth in every sense of the word,” Katie says.
Katie grew up in what she calls the “boondocks of southern Virginia” singing in church with her grandfather, “a killer barbershop quartet member with the ear of a God.” Her grandfather and her mother are the two people in her life who understand what music does for the soul. “It’s really [my grandfather’s] gift that changed my life so many years ago,” Katie explains. “I’ve cherished that in every monumental stride, in my life.”
Katie wanted to feel the power of music run through her as often as she could so she began singing and dancing at the age of two. Recitals and dance competitions quickly took over her life and continued to do so for about 18 years. “That paired with this longing to sing, living through showcases, talent shows, musicals, collaborations, you name it, I was into it,” Katie says.
Her journey continued on from attending a performing arts high school in Phoenix, AZ, to attending Berklee College of Music for undergrad which was followed up by a “life-changing move” to Los Angeles when she was 23 and through it all music was what she put her faith into. “I intend to continue my love for it until I can breathe, no more,” Katie says. “It is essential to my happiness, my health and my sanity.”
Katie puts forth her lifetime love for music into her project she calls, The Revolution, “an emerging musical series that highlights artists and musicians that not only represent the core of independent pop culture…but who are standing in the breeding ground of an evolution within their genre,” as stated on the National Sawdust website. “The true passion and emergence of The Revolution came about when I moved to Brooklyn, about 2 years ago,” Katie says. Having surrounded herself within the Brooklyn and Harlem music scenes, Katie felt like she changed her life.
“The vibe was completely different than anything I’d ever experienced before,” Katie explains. “The love, sweat and tears that oozed through the bodies of these players left a mark on my heart.”
When Katie started working at National Sawdust, she realized there was an part of the local music scene that wasn’t being heard and deserved to be “I wanted to create a platform and a movement of artists willing to live and breathe their art,” Katie says. “These musicians work so hard and gig majority of their time, playing for heavy hitters in addition to committing time to their personal projects.”
She felt like it was her duty to bring together these artists to showcase their talents to learn from each other and present to the right audience. Within her first year of curating the series, Katie booked mostly friends of hers who had also attended Berklee. Moving back to the east coast after being in Los Angeles for 5 years allowed her to reconnect with friends from school, including her best friend of 12 years, Nikara Warren.
Brooklyn native, Nikara, turned Katie on to all types of music that she had yet to explore. “[She] opened my eyes to new vibrations and genres that pushed me to expand the discovery element of my musical journey,” Katie says. Each night of the series is curated with three different types of music performed by exceptional musicians and creators of music. Katie also tries to find people who’s music revolves around change, social justice and community.
In March, The Revolution celebrated their 1 year anniversary with double the amount of talented and passionate musicians they usually have including performances by Marie Davy, Iris Lune, Arthur Moon Jakk Tha Rhyma, (U)nity and Nikara Warren presenting: Black Wall Street.
Opener Marie Davy and closer, (U)nity, both brought sweet jazz vibes – Marie with her silky smooth vocals and (U)nity with their laid back funky beats. Iris Lune and Arthur Moon, two of my favorite Brooklyn-based artists and fellow Berklee grads like Katie, each created a dream-like atmosphere with their entrancing rhythms and ethereal vocals. Jakk Tha Rhyma brought a little rap into the mix and Katie’s best friend, Nikara, brought her Black Wall Street project to life through funky sounds and showcasing her talents on the vibraphone.
The audience got to listen to amazing music throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning. Katie was cheering on her friends all along the way. You could tell she was not only proud of the work she did putting the show on but proud of the musicians performing on stage.
“Music has always been an outlet for creatives to focus on the truth,” Katie says. “Following this musical truth has got me where I am today and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Article: Merissa Blitz