Nikhil P. Yerawadekar & Low Mentality
My name is Nikhil P. Yerawadekar*. I was born in Queens, NY in 1984 and started playing music at an early age in an effort to match my older brother’s piano game. I listened to a lot of Jimi Hendrix and great NYC hip-hop when I was a teenager. At the time it seemed as though music would allow for a life of hanging out, exploring ideas and grandstanding, being obscene and philosophical at the same time. Jimi caused me to practice guitar a lot but I never really wanted to collaborate with people as a youth so the first real band I ever played in was a highlife and soukous cover band called Africa Connection when I was 19. I went to rehearsal every Sunday evening for a year; there were three gigs.
Soon after that, I joined Akoya Afrobeat and met a lot of other great musicians fast. I was getting really fascinated by music from West Africa and the Caribbean. Before I knew it I was in a lot of bands (I still am) and collaborating with a lot of great artists**. I started out being able to play guitar and keyboards, and now it seems I play bass gigs more than anything else. Singing and drumming are there too. I've been to a bunch of different places in the world and have done a lot of shows and recording sessions. At the same time, I'm the head of the Rock Band program at Bank St. School For Children in Manhattan where I teach kids how to play music.
I've always admired records by guys like Prince, Stevie Wonder, Shuggie Otis and Emmit Rhodes, guys who can play all the instruments. So I'm going to try that. Really I just want to try to channel all the expressive powers of the artform called music and keep it vital for myself and all other interested parties. Over the years I've realized that on every level there is a pressure among artists in our society to overvalue making a good impression and appearing professional, often at the expense of expressing a feeling or an idea. I can appreciate certain stuff that comes out of that state of mind, but really I don’t think that’s where the lasting value is.
I started a band of friends called Low Mentality because what I want to do is not high minded art, it's just impulse carried out through music. The thoughts that pop into your mind but get dismissed because they seem like they would carry bad consequences. I want to see what happens when you respect and respond to that side of your mind rather than the side that tries to predict how people will respond to you. The goal is to have the science, the id and the appreciation all there together at the party.
As diverse and kinetic as the city they call home, Kwame & the Uptown Shakedown have been perfecting their unique blend of soulful rock n’roll since they formed in 2008. A true product of New York City, their music reflects the passion, the energy and the sounds of the city. They stand out - as a multicultural, multigenerational collective whose influences span soul, blues, classic rock, reggae and R+B. Featuring singer/songwriter Kwame Binea, guitarist/songwriter Justin Wilcox, bassist Art Vanterpool, drummer Medley, and saxophonist Quigley , the group is united by a common goal to make simple, soulful, back-to-basics music. “Our music is organic,” says London-born Ghanaian-raised Kwame, “it’s about life, love and struggle but it’s danceable. We make music that moves you and that makes you move.” After leaving blues/rock band ‘The Kause’, Kwame met songwriting partner Justin Wilcox at a recording session in Union City, NJ and the duo moved to Harlem to begin writing and playing together. Initially an acoustic act, the band’s line-up grew naturally as Kwame and Justin met and played with other New York/NJ musicians. As the group got bigger – both literally and sonically - their music began making the walls of the apartment where they rehearsed rattle and so the Uptown Shakedown was born. The band has quickly built a following as diverse as its members. Having played regularly at a number of iconic venues including Sullivan Hall, Kenny’s Castaway and Arlene’s Grocery, the band started playing shows across the East Coast this year as they complete work on their debut LP. Lead single ‘Waiting’ was released earlier this year and has been garnering the band a lot of attention. “I’ve been patient, I’ve been focused, I’ve been waiting for my time to come,” sings Kwame on the track. It seems their time has now arrived.