Music Gets You High: Local Band Locochino Reveals New Roster
Strands of lights decorated the exposed wood ceiling, a tapestry adorned the wall and different instruments cluttered the plywood floor. A whiteboard with elementary music fundamentals scrawled across it sat next to the keyboard. The scene seemed to entreat you to stay for just one more song.
Benny Cannon, Blake Briand, Brian Johnson, Nick Melms, Sam Coplin and Dave Johnson of the local band Locochino geared up for their Wednesday night band practice.
The group offers up some IPAs and circles between the instruments in their practice room, a sense of raw authenticity filling the space.
Labeling the group proves to be a feat for more than just a word-mongering writer. At one of their last shows at Bo Diddley Plaza, the marquee listed Locochino as “uncategorized.”
With elements of progressive rock and metal, psychedelic melodies and a jam band mentality, Bo Diddley isn’t the only one struggling to grapple for a label.
With Benny Cannon on drums, Blake Briand on keyboard, Brian Johnson and Sam Coplin on guitar and vocals, Melms on bass and Dave Johnson as the group’s manager, the act recently shuffled up its roster.
Locochino’s previous lineup, which initiated its transition into a name of local notoriety, brought the group to festivals like Suwannee Hulaween and Okeechobee Music Festival.
“Half of us met at a party. Sam and I used to be neighbors and then Blake and Benny were from The Jam,” said Melms.
After hearing his neighbor playing music often, Melms finally decided to walk next door.
“We just decided to go over there, and I was going through a sea of people asking who lived there. That’s when I met Sam,” said Melms.
“We talked about jamming together and exchanged numbers. I sat on it for like ten months and I had him in my phone as ‘Nick Jam.’ He’s still in my phone as ‘Nick Jam,’” laughed Coplin. “He told me that if we played just one show he’d be happy.”
Only two years into its career and with close to 50 shows in the band’s back pocket to date, Melms got a little more than he initially bargained for.
“At the root of it all, The Jam was what glued it together,” said Cannon of the former Gainesville music venue, which closed its doors last May.
Described as the group’s rooting ground, The Jam was an incubator for a handful of bands, setting into motion what could easily be defined as a new era in local music.
“It was a home for anyone. If you were a band, they’d find a time for you to play. If you wanted to come in and practice with a group, they’d make it happen for you,” said Cannon.
Current keyboardist and former Co-Founder of The Jam, Blake Briand, joined the band as the venue was closing. Locochino had quickly become his favorite local name and most-booked act at The Jam.
Locochino also lays claim to putting on the final performance at The Jam. In a Last Waltz-esque finale, the last note played during The Jam’s final show rings from Briand’s keyboard. And as quickly as one door closed in the Gainesville music scene, another flew open.
“Music can get you high— just playing it, no drugs involved. You can have experiences when you are performing or playing music that give you a high, like a runner’s high,” described Briand. “I was just kidding and asked if I could join the band,” he said.
When former guitarist and vocalist Alan Garver parted ways with the group in December, Sam Coplin stepped in on short-notice. Locochino had a week and a half to rework an hour long set for a fast approaching show.
“Sam switched gears and we leaned on him pretty heavily to make it work,” said Briand of the unexpected roster change.
“It was a great bonding experience because we were in a moment of pressure. We did four hour rehearsals for days while working full-time day jobs,” said manager Dave Johnson. “ We found a new direction, energy and vibe within our group,” he said.
The shift in band members paved the way for a shift in sound for the group as well.
“Something gets added that you never missed and then you wonder how it was that you never had it,” Briand said.
“The sound is still Locochino but it’s changed. Sam changing roles didn’t necessarily just fill a role that was left; he created his own new role,” said Brian Johnson. “And a lot of the jams we do live have a different feel now because there’s a new drummer steering the ship,” he said.
“I’m a big believer in hardship paving the way for progress and I saw that week of hard work and scrambling create a resonance in the band. Everyone was working together on the same harmonic wavelengths to where it just amplified productivity. That shift made it happen so beautifully,” said Dave Johnson.
“What’s the word for when everything works together perfectly?” the members asked each other. The word is “serendipitous,” and the new pairing suits the word choice.
As a group constructed almost completely through Gainesville’s tight-knit music community, Locochino is an example of the untapped, saturated talent that has been fueling the local music scene.
“As someone who has grown up in this city, I noticed the idea that a lot of great bands come from Gainesville and felt the need to move out because they felt like they couldn’t make their aspirations come true being rooted here,” said Cannon.
“People are realizing it’s not the city that you’re living in. There are a lot of people who want to hear good music in this town and more bands are believing in this notion. We can go on tour but Gainesville is home,” he said of this newfound momentum.
“If everybody had their finances worked out, all musicians would play for free. How many professions can really say that?” said Briand.
And so we stayed for just one more song.
Locochino will be debuting its new roster for the first time along with some new tunes on January 18th at 9 pm at The Atlantic. The group will play alongside Electric Kif and Syzygy. Tickets are $7 at the door. For more information, visit the event page here.
Want more? Catch Locochino at its first out-of-region music festival, Some Kind of Jam. Click here for more details.