Ken Leighton 6 p.m., July 1
Justin J Gadus: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric) | Matt Shoaf: Flute, Saxophone | Hershel Abram: Djembe, Keyboards | Robert Craig Koonce: Keyboards | Blaise Garza: Saxophone | Ayinde Watson: Drums | Kory McAfee: Bass guitar
Genre: Blues & Soul
Sound description: Soulful R&B.
RIYL: Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Prince
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Inception: San Diego, 2008
Influences: Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Prince, Train, Roots, Anthony Hamilton, Outkast, Robin Thicke, James Morrison
Hershel Abram is a is a lyrical story teller who has more than commercial driven music behind him. “I started out as a producer and songwriter and decided to take center stage by performing my own music,” says Abram. “I’d describe it as alternative neo-soul pop. I write flirtatious, sexy, feel-good songs with a sophisticated twist.”
After starting his own record label Ultimate Achiever, his debut album The Music Vein was released in 2009.
One song from the album, “Rock Real Slow,” was chosen by the HNBA [Humanitarian Neighborhood Basketball Alliance] as one of its top ten choices for performers to sing in ceremonies intended to bring communities together at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The single also earned airplay on local 98.9 FM (before it switched formats to sports).
Abrams — whose father contracted colon and liver cancer — donates a quarter of all his digital-download income to cancer research.
“The best local gig we ever had was headlining on Father’s Day last year at the House of Blues, because I was able to dedicate that show to my father, who wasn’t expected to live by the time the show took place. All the proceeds went to the nonprofit organization Fight Cancer. Before my own time is up, I want to be a part of seeing people cured and no longer suffering. It not only affects the patient; it affects the whole family.”
As for his most offbeat non-music gig, he says “A few years back, I used to contract services out as a personal bodyguard, due to my experience with martial arts and special weapons. I mainly worked for successful businessmen and women who had fortunes of up to a couple hundred million…. I was always presented with unique challenges, from handling a client not wanting to pay up at a private, exclusive gambling party to making sure my client was never seen publicly with secret companions. From private jets to penthouses, I was there delivering peace of mind.”
“I’ve never come close to killing someone, but I have seriously delivered pain to individuals who find it fun to provoke people who can’t defend themselves. Through my experience as a bodyguard, I was taught to defuse potential problems instead of staying in attack mode.”
A second album The Love Bank was released in summer 2010. The following year, he signed a one-year deal with NBC Morning News for his music to air on the show.