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Postmodern Jukebox at The Fillmore, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2019

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The idea of mashing together contemporary hits and early 20th century musical styles may have seemed like an odd, maybe even crazy, endeavor when Scott Bradlee started doing it back in 2011.

But there's nothing strange about the success Bradlee is having with his Postmodern Jukebox.

Posting versions and videos of his creations on social media, Bradlee and company have racked up more than a billion YouTube views, with 3.6 million subscribers on the site. Postmodern Jukeboxes has released nearly two dozen albums -- the most recent, "The Essentials II," features stylized treatments of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun," Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and more -- and the touring company has played in six continents, with a roster of more than 70 musicians who have taken part in the shows.

So Bradlee, 37, has plenty to talk about by phone from his New York headquarters -- at least when he's not busy creating new mash-ups and videos...

• Postmodern Jukebox's growth has been a surprise for Bradlee. "It was just me and a bunch of my friends based in Queens, making the videos and everything. At the time all I was concerned with is that this was going to become my online business card so I could get booked to play more restaurant gigs. I didn't have this big-picture concept of what it could become. It just developed into this thing."

• Taking Postmodern Jukebox to the stage, meanwhile, was a logical step. "We're all live performers. We felt like it would be a shame if (the music) only existed on the Internet, so we made a show out of it and started touring and some residencies and things like that. Then it was, 'Why limit ourselves to a few cities? We could take this all over the world,' and we found it worked all over the world. And we can take talent from all over the world and welcome them into this universe and kind of share that with all the fans."

• The burgeoning Postmodern Jukebox empire has largely taken Bradlee off the road with the band, though he still drops in occasionally. "I kinda come in and out as I can, when I have free time. I do miss sometimes going out there with the guys and doing the rock sort of thing, but my time's spent on making the videos and putting together the next show and writing all the stuff. So it was a conscious decision on my part to spend less time on the road. But I see them throughout the tour and try to stop by the shows for quality control. I like to keep my eye on things and being closely involved."

• Bradlee says the concept's growth during the past eight years has allowed him to expand his vision. "I think I have a better sense of what Postmodern Jukebox is now than I did maybe five years ago, when we were throwing things against the wall and seeing what stuck. As an artist I always want to challenge myself and try things that are different and not fall into the same pattern. A lot of times it's actually taking what we've been doing and trying to put some new spin it that we haven't done before. There's a lot of other people in the Postmodern Jukebox universe now, too; That helps to open my eyes and sometimes informs my choices."

• With its "Welcome to the Twenties 2.O" show, Postmodern Jukebox is gearing up for a 2020 that will celebrate the centennial of the start of the 1920s, a decade from which Bradlee draws many of his musical inspiration. "If there's one band that kind of represents the 1920s, I think we can make a pretty strong claim for that. You look at the twenties and the songs that were out then -- there were a lot of songs about dancing and youth rebellion, in their own way. It's funny to see that 100 years apart there's still those same trends in popular songwriting, so that's been a lot of food for thought."

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox performs Friday, Feb. 1, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors at 7 p.m. $25-$75. 313-961-5451 or thefillmoredetroit.com.

Web Site: www.thefillmoredetroit.com

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