Local Listens: Jukebox Serenade

Welcome to Local Listens, where we profile some of our favorite Washington musicians. This week, we shine the spotlight on Jukebox Serenade.
Photograph by Doug Kean.

There’s an edge to what the Fairfax-based band Jukebox Serenade does, but it’s all grounded in pop sensibility. From the guitar riffs to singer Lina Esposito’s voice, Jukebox Serenade is a balance between rough and rounded.

“Abigail,” the first single from the band’s debut album, Bliss, charges ahead with abrasive guitars and Esposito’s sugary delivery, and it’s an undeniably danceable track.

“It straddles pop, and it straddles indie, and that’s really where we’re at—in the middle,” Esposito says of the song.

There’s an even heavier edge to the four-piece group’s live shows, which lacks the polish of the studio recording, Esposito says. But you wouldn’t know it based on what the band plans to cover at the Bliss release party Thursday, July 30, at the Jammin’ Java: Rihanna.

“We like the pop covers,” Esposito says. “We want to do more contemporary covers.”

To learn a little more about Esposito and the band—formerly known as Ringleader—check out our Q&A with the singer.

 

First song that made you want to play music: “ ‘The Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers. I was 5, and I loved that song. It was a great story to be told in his earnest voice—I just loved it.”

First instrument: “Guitar—it definitely had a rock-and-roll quality to it, and it was portable.”

Local spot to seek inspiration or write music: “I just do it at home, which is in Centreville.”

Best local venue: “Definitely Jammin’ Java. The size is perfect, and it’s open to all ages. The clientele there is fantastic. They actually go there to listen to music. The people there are totally professionals.”

Best bar to hear music: “We go to Jammin’ Java quite a bit. I enjoy going to Iota Club & Café as well. A lot of the artists there are kind of quirky and a little left of center. I like that.”

Favorite local band other than your own: “I follow the Dance Party, and I really like where they’re going. They’re really unique, and I like their sound.”

Best thing about Washington’s music scene: “There’s little niches. You can just embrace yourself into one niche or another, and then you can go to another venue and attach to that niche.”

Worst thing about Washington’s music scene: “There’s niches and it’s kind of hard to get into one or the other. It’s like, ‘Oh, they’re in that scene.’ Then people judge you by what niche you’re in.”

Finish this sentence: “When not making music, you can find me  . . . ”
“ . . . at home. I’m definitely a loner.”

The Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
“The Beatles. That’s basically what I was first influenced by after Kenny [Rogers]. I love the Stones, but I think the Beatles are more melody driven, and that’s what I’m driven by.”

Digital download or hard copy?
“Digital. It’s just more convenient.”

Club show or festival?
“We’re open to both, but club shows tend to be more intimate and people are there to see you specifically. [With] festivals, it’s hard to get people’s attention.”

How did Jukebox Serenade come to be?
“I met Chris Brownelle—the guitar player—through a mutual friend and we started talking about music. We got together as a song-writing exploration, recorded a couple of songs, sent them out, and got some great reviews. We said, ‘Hey, let’s take it live.’ We spent a couple years trying to solidify our rhythm section. I found Dean Perry, the bass player, on Craigslist. He was moving from Florida and said, ‘I really love your stuff.’ He became a permanent member. We spent a couple years writing more stuff with different drummers. Then Eddie Anzueto became available. Eddie and Dean clicked. With the four of us working together we made our new album, Bliss. We thought the dynamic was great.”

Why did you change the band’s name from Ringleader to Jukebox Serenade about three months ago?

“We ran into a couple of issues—one was a legal issue. There were Ringleaders before us and Ringleaders after us, so it was a crowded space for Ringleaders. Another reason was we felt the Ringleader years were exploring a sound, trying to find a lineup. Now we’re kind of a new band, and we wanted something that relates to music.”

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