No matter the decade, every girl or boy who had a respective Bat or Bar Mitzvah knows every single line of Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” verbatim. OK, let’s face it everyone does and they have ever since that song came out. Singer/songwriter/producer J-Idris probably knows it most of anyone on the planet. He’s the offspring of Charles Smith, the late great co-founder of Kool and the Gang, and Rai Ragland, who sang back-up on that classic track, is his mom. But like there’s more to Kool and the Gang, there’s more to J-Idris, who’s an artist in his own right. The New Jersey native (born Justin) is a delightful mixed bag of an artist – mixing pop, rock, hip hop, and EDM in his music. In other words, I dare you to stop your collective booties from shaking while listening to his feel-great music. Take a listen to his EP #VcVc (Very Close, Very Close), and you’ll hear a true original at work. Find his single “Stare at the Ocean” below followed by an exclusive A-Sides interview with the artist – filmed late last year at Primary Wave Music’s A-Sides Studio/Listening Room in NYC.


It’s 2015 yet a 2014 irreverently irrelevant Q&A series continues. You’re welcome and I’m sorry. John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting has fielded questions from A-Sides like a pro so he’s back for his monthly series (within a series). Welcome back to 5 for Fighting with Five For Fighting. Not just a singer, songwriter, and sports writer, he’s a bag of silly like yours truly. As Yoda would say, had he been real and had he read this column, “read you will.” What? Yoda’s not real? Sorry kids.

New Year’s Resolutions are made to be broken. What was the last one you kept, and what would the title be if you wrote a song about it?
It’s easy to keep New Years Resolutions if you set realistic goals. Last year, I resolved to stop running, gain 20 pounds, and set a personal record for gambling losses. BAM! As far as music I can’t write songs about New Years. As a teen I was an extra on a Dick Clark’s New Years special (taped in October). I’m still traumatized.

It can get very cold on the East Coast this time of year. If given a choice (and if you lived on the East Coast) – what’s a better place to keep warm: spending time in a local coffee shop or taking refuge inside Ray LaMontagne’s beard?
I already have a time-share in Ray’s Beard. It’s toasty and as a singer quite inspiring. There is no voice in contemporary music more beautiful while berating an audience.

Have you ever thought of forming a duo with Rick Ocasik? Ondrasik and Ocasik could really confuse a lot of people. That said, it’d sound really good.
Does it bother you that in “Let’s Go” Ocasik’s “one desire” is “seventeen”. Why is nobody protesting him, and “Winger” for that matter? I’d burn all my CARS records except “Substitution mass confusion, clouds inside your head” is the best lyric in rock history. (Screw you, Lenny Cohen). The only name combo anyone wants to see anyways is Ben Folds Five For Fighting. But freaking Robert Plant is asking for $80 million.

Oscar season is among us. Who are you rooting for, and, off topic, can you confirm you’re finally over Mufasa’s death in The Lion King?
I always root for Hammerstein though I think De La Hoya or Robertson will probably win. Why do you have to always ask questions that make me cry?

Lastly, what new things are you working on, and, on a related note, what’s your favorite material to use when crocheting a scarf?
I’m coming off the Kennedy Center show for our troops and moving into rehearsals for quartet gigs. Wealthy aristocrats are bugging me to take my songs to Broadway in some form but Cyndi Lauper keeps stealing my concepts (and footware). I always infuse my scarves with L.A. Kings Stanley Cup Rings. Want one?

A-Sides 3rd Anniversary Show
On Jan. 23, A-Sides will celebrate its third anniversary (about six months too late), at Garcia’s within The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. The show will feature a mix of music and comedy including buzz band Dreamers and buzz comic Nore Davis. Get tickets now and support the brand and the man behind it (who has two kids under 3 and is very, very broke.)

A-Sides “Delve Into Twelve” Countdown
Each week A-Sides unleashes its Top 12 tracks of the week AKA the “Delve Into Twelve”based on the following contributing factors: songs I’m playing out that particular week NO MATTER WHEN THEY WERE RELEASED (think overlooked songs, unreleased tracks, and old favorites), songs various publicists are trying to get me to listen to that I did and dug a bunch, posts and trends I’ve noticed on my friends’ Facebook walls, and — most importantly — the songs my two-year-old-plus son gravitates toward by stomping his feet in approval. Yeah, you read that right. This weeks follows below (LW= last week’s rank).

12. “The One and Only” (retro cut) – Chesney Hawkes
10. “Pray to God” (LW-10) – Calvin Harris/Haim
9. “First” (LW-8) – Cold War Kids (Watch their exclusive A-Sides performance here.)
8. “Break the Rules” (LW-7) – Charli XCX
7. “Karaoke” (debut) – Smallpools
6. “Mess is Mine” (LW-5) – Vance Joy (Watch his exclusive performance of the song for A-Sideshere!)
5. “Shut Up and Dance” (LW-4) – Walk the Moon
4. “Push Pull” (LW-6) – Purity Ring
3. “Somebody New” (LW-2) – Joywave
2. “O” (LW-1) – Coldplay
1. “Lampshades on Fire” (LW-3) – Modest Mouse

About A-Sides with Jon Chattman:
Jon Chattman’s music series features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres of music performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. Artists have included fun., Charli XCX, Imagine Dragons, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Gary Clark Jr., American Authors, Echosmith,and many, many more!

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