by Julie Eaton
Last September, Jon Fro contacted me and asked that I feature him and his skillfully textured pop rock CD “Been on a Journey” in this column. I will say that I love when artists contact me. I appreciate the confidence and enthusiasm and unless I’ve promised it to someone else, I’ll gladly grant their request. I like to think this page belongs to the Salem Music Scene and I am but its honored and humble emissary. I met him for coffee downtown.
I immediately liked Jon. He was unpretentious, serious yet easy to talk to and knowledgeable about music and aspects of the Salem scene I had yet to explore – mainly the thriving hip hop scene. One more thing about Jon – I see him out at shows. Even with a couple youngins at home, he manages to make it out and support the scene in addition to holding his own Acoustic Songwriter’s Showcases from time to time. I really like that – musicians supporting musicians. Reciprocity. Good.
So when Jon contacted me again about his new hip hop album “Room 4,” I was delighted to oblige. Room 4 is also the name of Jon’s studio, where this entire album was recorded, and where we met for this interview. We listened to Room 4 while we talked about the artform, the music and the contributors on this CD. He was proud to say that the DJs on the album are vinyl DJs, an increasingly lost art.
Room 4 is Jon’s brainchild and he procured some really talented folks to contribute. The CD is mainly him producing the beats and McGrawski – MC. The album also features ThatKidCry, DJ Swone, DJ Galactic, MC Grew, Robotic Torres (human beatbox) and Rachel Blair – vocals. Jon can make a polished album and as ThatKidCry said, “Jon is hands down one of the most professional artists locally…” He produces albums that sound radio ready and listenable, and Room 4 is no exception. The political and pissed “Dollars and Sense” and melodic “Good Times” are my favorite tracks on the album. I’ve heard Rachel Blair sing live with Jon a couple times; her vocal offerings on “Good Times,” gives the song an additional layer of goodness.
The record release extravaganza is at The Triangle and I know from experience that Jon puts on enjoyable and well-attended shows. Jon will be the host and he’ll also play guitar on a couple songs, but the beats are his and the DJs are vinyl and the MCs are top notch. I feel like a noob saying all that, but I’m excited to see this album come to life. And hey – thanks Jon for continuing to put out great music and being a huge supporter of the local scene. I’ll see you at The Tri, April 16th at 8:30pm. And you can save your money for the tip jar – there’s no cover.