Jumpin’ Joel Flash and the Magic Machine is truly one of Ottawa’s musical gems: marrying theatre and music, this band is incredible, creating a performance you simply don’t want to miss. Their music is fearless sentimentality frocked in a cavorting good time, weaving country twang with weighty harmonies and heartfelt melodies. The lead man himself describes the shows as “sunshine and rainbows…It’s toe-tapping excitement that makes you want to hug a friend! It’s nostalgic and beautiful and heartfelt and ridiculous. It’s wow in a bottle, and everything you’ve ever wanted.” It’s difficult to disagree.
If you’re looking to see this splendor for yourself – and I suggest that you do – you’ll have that opportunity on Saturday, Dec. 8, when Jumpin’ Joel Flash and the Magic Machine will be releasing their new EP at Makerspace North (250 City Centre Ave – # 216) at 7 pm. To celebrate the occasion, they’re hosting their very own prom, so wax nostalgic and enter your very own John Hughes movie for this shindig! Wear your fanciest dress, your danciest dancing shoes, and make the most of this super special night. According to Joel, this will TRULY be an event, with a festival atmosphere, multiple stages, a photo booth, vendor tables, video projection, installation art, and even a Prom Royalty contest. If that wasn’t enough, the release show will also feature guests Scary Bear Soundtrack, Capital Tease Burlesque, and The Ghost Lights.
You can get acquainted with the band’s music during the lead up to their prom-themed album release show. Since October 1, Jumpin’ Joel and the Magic Machine have been releasing one single from the album every two weeks. The two singles, “Eleanor” and “You Still Got Me,” are available to stream and purchase right now. Expect the next release to be out this Monday, October 29.
“I want folks to enjoy the tracks and take them in on their own, then see how well all the songs get along when they’re all together!” said Joel. “Like a great bunch of friends at a party!”
To learn more, we were privileged to speak with Jumpin’ Joel Flash about this upcoming album release, the band, and his journey to the Magic Machine.
Though he had been playing music since high school, the allure of a steady paycheck beckoned him to the cubicle, and as such, Flash spent years in Ottawa’s major industry – government-related work.
“I worked for an economic think-tank for a decade. It was just as boring as it sounds. I mean, informative, sure, but boring.” Joel said, “Rocking on the weekends certainly helped break that up. Cubes and spreadsheets to ensure as much time as possible for tunes.”
However, all that changed once Brett Kelly invited him to write the score for the theatrical Phantom of the Opry.
“The rigorous schedule for theatre production means you’re surrounded by creatives 3 or 4 times a week. It had a profoundly positive effect on me. After many smiles and unending support from my wife Kim, I decided to quit my job to focus on the music. That was in March of 2017.”
Since then, Joel says he’s been thinking far less about economics and more about art.
“Corporate Joel still hangs around sometimes though. He makes sure meetings start on time and are run efficiently.“
Now serving as the band’s fearless leader, Jumpin’ Joel Flash describes the Magic Machine as, “a potpourri of creative minds, lovingly plucked from Ottawa’s music, theatre, and visual art scenes!” Members including Robin Hodge and Zoe Towne (otherwise known as The Ghost Lights), and Jasen Colson joined up after working with Joel at productions like My Fair Zombie (2016) (“which was exactly what it sounds like,” Joel says) and Phantom of the Opry (2017). And Ashley Newall was scooped up by Joel after he saw him perform at a fateful open mic at Live! On Elgin. And serving as visual artist and ukelelist is Joel’s wife, Kim Valentine. This varied group of talent and artistic experiences make this a truly magical musical machine.
Together, they’ve created the first album for Jumpin’ Joel Flash and the Magic Machine, though the core of these songs have been percolating for a long time in Joel’s head. “I wrote most of these songs during my work-filled 20s, on the bus, in my office, on the bus again. I’ve always found it easier to get lost in creativity with the background noise of travel.”
Would these songs sound good when made manifest in the world? The answer, as we see for ourselves, is a resounding yes!
“The biggest trick was finding a bunch of people who could translate those head sounds into actual sounds. And translate we did!” Joel said. “We jammed them over and over and over and over again until we had lines and riffs and beats and everything! Wow!“
Jumpin’ Joel Flash is equally passionate about and active in the local music scene, as he is an advocate for Ottawa’s fantastic artists. When it comes to what can be done to better support our burgeoning music community, Jumpin’ Joel Flash says it best:
“Supporting local artists isn’t just about going to shows and buying merch/albums. It’s also about spreading the word when you catch a groove you can’t lose! Ottawa is an emerging music city, and as such, any win for Ottawa artists is a win for the community. So when I see/hear an artist that has it going on, I’ll send it to a friend. Just think about all the local music we could know about if we all did the same!”
In the words of Jumpin’ Joel Flash, “Local art can’t happen without local love!” With that in mind, give your love to The Magic Machine by keeping up with their releases, sharing this great music, and getting yourself a ticket to the prom-themed album release party.
In fact, there are only 100 tickets available for the album release show, so get them early! Keep up to date on these new songs and other Jumpin’ Joel Flash and the Magic Machine on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.