Digging hometown with his homies: Montclairite puts on The Clair Concert
ADAM ANIK/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL.
'The Clair Concert'
Samad Savage, Tennis Boys, Jason Jackson, Driicky Graham, Jay Illicit, Leah Jenea, Beat Lampers, Bleszt, IB Mattic, J. I. JA.
Friday, July 7, 7 p.m.
Wellmont Theater, 5 Seymour St.
By GWEN OREL
So the suburbs aren’t cool enough for teens?
Not according to Samad Savage, 21.
His song “The Clair,” with its refrain “Chilling with my homies in the Clair,” went viral last year.
That’s Clair, as in Montclair.
The video shows Savage and friends dancing and rapping all over town: in front of Urban Outfitters, which gets a shout-out in the lyrics, and at Cars on Valley Road, which is mentioned in a line about cheesesteaks.
Comments on the video are rapturous: “This is dope!!! I love my hometown!! Great artists all over... [Definitely] will be singing this hook all day,” wrote GWoodPhotography LLC.
BNOW HomeBoy wrote “I’m from MONTCLAIR I will be buying this song. Young man you hit this out of Nishuane Park. You nailed Montclair its a great [expletive] town who does welcome everyone. Lived here about 12 years and knew that [expletive] was home"
The video got more than 300,000 views on Facebook, and 25,000 on YouTube.
Next week, Thursday, July 6, Savage performs in “The Clair Concert” at the Wellmont.
DREAMING OF THE WELLMONT
“If I die July 8th, I die happy,” said Savage. He spoke at the Wellmont last Friday, with four
of the artists who will perform next week. “This is all I ever wanted to do for such a long time. I never even thought it was possible,” he said. Savage graduated from Montclair High School in 2014.
“I thought I would end up doing shows at Madison Square Garden before I ever get to this.”
“Word,” and “That’s a fact,” murmured the others.
David Genova, who owns the Wellmont, said by telephone that he “fell in love with the song about Montclair. I live, work and play here.”
This concert, Genova said, is “exactly what Montclair is about: kids being creative and hardworking.”
Savage is doing a great job hustling tickets too, he said: hundreds have been sold already, in an environment where it’s hard to sell tickets to national touring acts.
“This is nuts. This is crazy,” said Jay Illicit, 18, noting that Ziggy Marley’s name was on a poster in the lobby. Illicit, 18, lives in Montclair and helped organize the Clair Concert with Savage.
MUSIC TO MAKE FRIENDS BY
All the other performers on the bill are what Savage calls his “underground music industry friends.”
Illicit said he met Savage on Facebook: “I saw [the video] and I hated him, because I was kind of jealous. Eventually I hit him up to make a song. I went over to his studio one day and fanned out.”
Sixteen-year-old Tennis Boy Will, who still wears braces on his teeth, met Savage at a carnival, with his best friend, Lump Shadow. Lump Shadow, 16, directed the “Clair” video, and plays with Tennis Boy Will in The Tennis Boys.
The music on the night will be a mix of rap, hip-hop, jazz, soul and a little bit of rock, and will express different themes.
For Savage, it’s important that his lyrics express “happiness and good vibes.”
For example, “Good Riddance” sounds like an angry song, but it’s meant to inspire:
“I know you don’t know what’s actually happening
So you should sit back and listen with ease
They’re gonna distract you with women and weed
Make you forget about chasing your dreams...”
Savage said, “So it’s really kind of like a anti-celebrity, anti-common-thoughts song. At the end of the day my main statement is to try to be different from the negativity that’s going on around you.”
So it’s really about good riddance to bad thoughts. Savage began writing at 10, and taking his career seriously at 17; he hopes to make enough money with his music to go to college without having to take out student loans.
Jay Illicit said with a laugh that his music is the opposite of Savage’s: “The way he always has an undertone of happiness, I always have an undertone of darkness.” He began writing at age 6, and said that his early songs were about his toys. His band, Applied Pressure, includes 18-year-old bass guitarist Dennis Flowers.
Flowers said he was dropping his song “Fantasy” on Soundcloud that day. Unlike his friends, Flowers works methodically. He uses harmonies and background vocals in his work: “I try to put my heart on my sleeve.”
When he sang a bit of his new song, demonstrating a warm tenor with just a touch of vibrato, the others snapped their fingers.
“I wish I could sing,” said Savage.
“You can sing,” said one of his friends.
The Tennis Boys use melody too.
Shadow and Will, both rising juniors at MHS, stayed in touch when they went to different middle schools after Hillside Elementary School. Their stage names have Montclair origins: they came up with the name Lump Shadow when they were walking in Watchung Plaza wondering “What’s a cool New York City nickname,” he said.
And “Tennis boy Will” is related to a friend who plays tennis.“It’s just a little middle school thing that turned into something bigger,” said Will, who only plays Wii tennis.
Will said that his influences are Motown and Michael Jackson, melodic stuff.
“I write about girls, about high school stuff, what I’m doing right now,” he said.
He broke into a chorus of his song, and the others sang along:
“Let’s go explore-uh...
“Just like Dora...
“Pack your bags and your boots if it’s true
“We ain’t got nothing to do
“We ain’t got nothing to lose.”
The boys were having fun, which made it fun to hear.
“He’s trying to so something local that’s really special,” Genova said.
Savage said, “It means so much to me because it’s in my hometown.”