Postmodern Jukebox unleashes a retro spin on new music

Postmodern Jukebox

Postmodern Jukebox makes the scene April 7 at the Silver Legacy in Reno.

Most appropriately, Postmodern Jukebox’s breakout hit was “Thrift Shop.” Recycling is the concept behind the band.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis first recorded “Thrift Shop,” a modern hip-hop song rearranged by Postmodern Jukebox founder Scott Bradlee to a Roaring Twenties style and sung by Robyn Adele Anderson, who wore a vintage flapper dress in a video that went viral. Upon its 2012 release, the song had more than a million views in its first week and 4 million in a year.

“That was definitely a big surprise to all of us,” Anderson said. “We were like, we should keep doing this! And sure enough it caught on.

“Music goes in cycles just like anything else, like fashion and different fads. So I think it takes a while for people to like appreciate it again. We’re recycling it by taking songs of today and doing them in all different genres from all different eras, and by giving them a fresh take it kind of keeps the current song alive a little longer.”

Robyn Adele AndersonPMJ’s YouTube channel now has more 3 million subscribers and almost 850 million views. Its  Facebook page has more than 1 million likes. As the old-timey expression goes, this indeed is “hot music.”

The new music played in vintage styles resonates to enthusiastic concertgoers across the globe. Recruiting from places such as “American Idol,” PMJ has rotated more than 70 members. It has upcoming simultaneous tours in the United States and Europe. Anderson is singing on the U.S. tour, which includes an April 7 show in Reno’s Silver Legacy Resort Casino. It will be the bee’s knees.

“You’ll never see the same exact configuration of people on two different tours,” said Anderson, whose postgraduate work was for a nonprofit that supported refugees.

“I had always loved show tunes, musical theater and pop music but I didn’t know anything about jazz and had never attempted to sing jazz before. Scott helped introduce me to that whole world. I love the concept because he was taking music that I already knew and liked. It’s a challenge for me to sing it in this completely different style and I realized like I actually really like this so I found my niche.”

This winter, PMJ released its 14th album, “New Classics,” and first from a live show, which was held in Las Vegas. It’s also available as a DVD. Songs include Gloria Gayner’s disco tune “I Will Survive,” Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” Sound Garden’s “Black Hole Sun” and Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”

“Listening to it now, it sounds like an amazing radio broadcast from Carnegie Hall from many years ago — a journey through all the vintage styles, whether it’s 1920s hot jazz or ’50s doo-wop or ’60s soul and everything in between,” Bradlee said in a press statement.

– Tim Parsons

  • Postmodern Jukebox
    When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 7
    Where: Silver Legacy Resort Casino, Reno
    Tickets: $40 to $59

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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