Jon Braun of Start Making Sense talks about passion for music and Cuban Destination Performance in April

by Chris Snyder

Y’all pay tribute to Talking Heads in such an authentic way. Are there any tunes over the years that you particularly love playing in the live setting?

Just speaking for myself, I love doing “The Great Curve,” “Once in a Lifetime” and “Naive Melody.” “Road to Nowhere” has started to become a favorite in light of current events as well.  We’re also learning a few more new Talking Heads tunes to do this spring as well a some David Byrne solo songs for our trip to Cuba. So I’m sure those  will be a blast as well!

How did y’all originally decide on paying tribute to Talking Heads? Were there any other bands in the mix before deciding?  

Accidental inspiration. There’s a great bar in our hometown of Bethlehem, P.A. called The Funhouse. Live music 7 nights a week! Most members of this band have played at the Funhouse for over 15 years or so (some of us much longer) — It’s like our home base. I’m playing there tomorrow with my band Insidious Rays.  Anyway, Tina, the owner suggested we put together a group of local musicians to perform Talking Heads material for one night. About 200 people showed up and one night has now turned into almost 10 years. Luckily, we are all huge fans of the music, otherwise we would have never done it in the first place. Also the band is made up of a bunch of musicians and friends who have either known or worked with each other for a very long time. I feel like this gives us a bit of a musical advantage in some ways. There’s a bond both musically and offstage that allows us to truly share and enjoy what we are doing.  Since then we did a Hall and Oates tribute (HmfO) that toured nationally and was a total blast. Some of us are in a David Bowie tribute band call Band From Mars.

When we were deciding on the Hall and Oates tribute we went through a bunch of other bands we would love to play the music of before we settled on that. Santana, Television, King Crimson, Todd Rundgren, Parliament/Funkadelic.  I think our guitarist Jon Fadem still wants to start a B-52’s Tribute band.  

Are there any cities or venues that are some of your favorites to play in?

It’s always great to play in Bethlehem (our home town), NYC, Chicago, Denver, Portland ME, Boston, Pittsburgh, DC, Philly, St Louis, Rochester NY, Burlington VT, Buffalo, Albany NY, Providence RI.  Uh all of them really. We have such a blast playing the music of Talking Heads for all the amazing Talking Heads fans out there.  It’s really just an honor to be able to do it.  

The band will be heading to Cuba in April. This is not only a trip musically but you will be visiting some historic landmarks in the country. Tell us a little more about this “Once In A Lifetime” trip.

It’s true. Start Making Sense is going to Cuba.   It’s completely legal and sanctioned by the Cuban Government.  We’ve been working with Cuban Institute of Music on setting up the shows and a bunch of other things. They’ve been so supportive and helpful.  It’s just amazing.  All told by the time we actually get to Cuba it will have been 13 months of work, preparation paperwork, etc. to get us there.

But we will be traveling to Cuba to play three shows (some of which will have local musicians playing with us!), bringing up to 50 fans with us (time is running out, sign up now!) , and participating in cultural/educational exchanges with the help of The Cuban Institute of Music!  We’ll be visiting music schools, speaking with musicians and music educators, etc. We’ll also be bringing along a lot of small musical items to donate to the local musicians and music students such as guitar picks, guitar strings, drum sticks etc. We’re really excited to be able to have a dialogue with Cuban musicians (both musically and in speaking).  The music of Talking Heads, David Byrne and many other musicians we admire/study here in the US is so directly linked to afro-cuban jazz, rhythms and songwriting. We feel so honored and grateful to be able to go there to learn more about the music and the culture’s past, present, and future. On top of that we have provided a way for our fans, friends and family to travel with us to take part in this experience. We couldn’t have done it without Molimar Exports, Interplanner, and Porterra Travel.  All of whom had a part in making this happen for us and the fans. Truly amazing on all levels. We hope you can join us. We all know that music is the universal language.  We want to be a part of a larger conversation with the language of music. We’re bringing only good things with us on this trip and we are positive that we will only be bringing back amazing memories, experiences, music, art and a deeper understanding of the world around us.  

What else does the band have planned this coming year?

We’ll be playing 3 or 4 days a week basically from March to July, taking a break to focus on original projects and other projects for July and August.  And then back on the road from September to December 31st! We’re doing a bunch of shows in CO, two hometown shows in Bethlehem this year, VT, DC, Boston, The House of Blues in Chicago, and we will be reprising out recreation of Stop Making Sense in the tristate area at a legendary theater in December ’18. So keep your eyes peeled! We also have a trio featuring myself, Jesse Braun and Jenny founds called Ruby Dear that will be releasing original music and touring this year. Great White Caps will be doing a few shows in the spring and summer. Jon Fadem always has solo shows and shows with his band Post Junction. Our keyboard player Brad Murray has a new Radiohead Tribute called Climbing up the Walls. The Insidious Rays are always popping up somewhere and Band From Mars the David Bowie tribute will be doing some shows this year as well.  We like to keep busy.  

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s