Stymie and the Pimp Jones Love Orchestra

Their name and their music are both well-thought-out, original hybrids. Their sound is becoming better known to those in the Bay Area, thanks to a series of appearances at the Elbo Room, Slim’s, Bimbo’s, and The Paradise Lounge, as well as opening for acts like Earth, Wind, and Fire.

That renown is set to go well beyond the Bay Area, as the band known as Stymie and the Pimp Jones Love Orchestra is putting the finishing touches on its debut album, set for release later this year.

So, what’s with the name? Founder, lead vocalist, and lead songwriter Sean Jones explains it this way: “I used Stymie because, literally, I feel like I’ve been stymied my whole life. There have always been obstacles in my life.” Jones doesn’t mind the adversity, however, because, “It made me a better songwriter, and a better person. If your life is easy, you’ll just sail through,” he says. Jones used the name in an earlier, Los Angeles-based band that broke up.

And the rest of the name? “The first part, Pimp Jones, is like a cartoon character,” Jones explains, noting the name was originally used to make fun of a colleague’s approach to being cool. “He thought he was cool, and it is cool in a cartoonish sense. It’s about having fun.” The “Love Orchestra” part, Jones says, is about, “reaching out to the audience, letting them feel the love in the music.” Summing up, he says, “I’m Stymie, Pimp Jones are my backup singers, and the Love Orchestra is my band, which really is an orchestra.”

As diverse and entertaining as the band’s name is, the music they play takes excellence and diversity to a whole new level. Jones cites Electric Light Orchestra, P Funk, The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Charles Bukowski, and Chrissy Hynde as influences, but stresses that the music is none of the above. “It’s music with intelligent lyrics that you can shake your booty to,” he says.

“Being African-American, it’s important to me to get some intelligent black music out there,” Jones adds, noting that he likes pop and rhythm and blues, but hopes that younger audiences, particularly, get a “good injection” of quality music. As an analogy, he likens the listening habits of youth (almost exclusively pop and/or hip-hop) to getting a steady diet of news, but only from CNN. “If you didn’t watch 60 Minutes, and Nightline, too, if you didn’t read the paper, that wouldn’t be much of a diet. I’m trying to give youth a broader diet, a little of everything,” he says.

And the music — which Jones dubs “thingamajig” music — appeals to all ages. “When the 15-year-olds come up to me, it reminds me of talking to my heroes when I was that age. And the older people will come up — all races — and say, ‘That’s good music. It reminds me of the stuff I used to listen to.’ What I’ve found is that, when older people say it reminds them of older stuff, what they’re really saying is, ‘It’s good.'”

And good music is really what thingamajig, and Stymie and the Pimp Jones Love Orchestra, is really all about. “Cole Porter is great music . . . Beethoven is great music. If you can find someone who can do it [well], it’s great music.” Bringing the musical styles together tends to bring together their audience, too. “It brings people together, older and younger, all races. Our music speaks to a lot of people,” he says.

Perhaps that will help the band’s ultimate goal, which according to Jones is, “World domination — but in a positive sense.” For as lofty as that goal is, it seems very attainable by this high-energy, broad-based, high-quality band.

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