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Contact: roberto guizar
AURORA, ILLINOIS – A Versatile, Genre-Bending Band Hails from Aurora, Plays in Oswego
It is pretty far from par for the course when one hears reggae, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hendrix and original material culled from these atists…from the same band, in the same night, within the first hour. Although somewhat eclectic, the RAJ manages to blend their influences seamlessly, and put on a fantastic show.
As with any band, the RAJ had humble beginnings as the nucleus of guitarist AJ Paradones and a friend who is no longer with the band, beginning to play at Open Mics in 2008. The name, according to Paradones, is adapted from “the highest point in Sanskrit, and was chosen to be something “simple and easy to remember.
The four-piece quickly progressed from open mic nights to playing at Oswego’s Cantina, the Cubby Bear and the Elbow Room. Although the majority of their repertoire was covers, they also played a smattering of originals.
Paradones described the group has having elements of “blues, rock, reggae, funk and even a little hip-hop. With such an amalgam, it should come as little surprise that the four musicians influence each other organically rather than having a band or two…or even a genre or two…inspire the band as a whole.
Inspirations for vocalist Collin Lambert include Marley and Peter Tosh, while for Paradones is chiefly influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Frusciante from the Chili Peppers. Paradones himself is an adroit, finessed player with very clean precision, as if Eric Johnson played ska. The Frusciante flavor is especially evident in the RAJ’s arresting, bold song “Morning Winds, but despite the influences is staunchly original in terms of phrasing and progressions. Their other numbers tended to be more organic and smoother, with smooth, soulful vocals on Lambert’s part.
A common misconception about the RAJ is that they are a jam band, a misconception mostly harbored by the patrons of the open-mic nights that Paradones and Lambert host. While the band occasionally improvises, the main brunt of their set are set numbers including originals.
When asked about the future of the RAJ, they were very succinct: “We stay busy. Rather than talk about grand aspirations, their response was simple, fitting the motif of the hard-working, hard-touring band solely focused on performing and proliferating their music. They adhered to “playing everywhere, every weekend.
The RAJ has a forthcoming, self-produced album coming out on November 5, also called The RAJ.