iLLPHONICS To Celebrate 10 Years With Charity Concert At The Sheldon In St. Louis
It’s been a decade since St. Louis fusion hip-hop group iLLPHONICS first got together at Webster University under the name Fallout and Friends and gained an early following playing 15-minute sets at the school’s monthly First Friday concerts.
Lead singer and emcee Larry “Fallout” Morris, keyboard player Keith Moore, bassist Simon Chervitz and drummer Chaz Brew actually knew each other for years growing up in University City. But it wasn’t until after Morris met guitarist Kevin Koehler at Webster that the band truly came together. Featuring a sound that blended hip-hop, rock and jazz influences, the group soon gained a following, eventually opening for Lupe Fiasco and changing its name to iLLPHONICS
Since then, the band has recorded five albums, including “Gone With the Trends,” released in May on the Kansas City-based label The Record Machine. The iLLPHONICS’ tenth year also has included a critically acclaimed performance at LouFest as well as an appearance at SXSW Music Festival in Austin.
iLLPHONICS will continue its decade celebration with a concert on Friday, November 25 at the Sheldon Concert Hall. Billed as a “Formal Affair for Charity” and co-sponsored by the Sheldon and KDHX, the event features the University City High School jazz band opening for iLLPHONICS, and a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to Music For Lifelong Achievement, a non-profit based at the Sheldon helps distribute donated musical instruments to school music programs throughout the metro area. Buy tickets here.
ALIVE recently caught up with Morris to find out more about the Sheldon concert and future plans for the band.
ALIVE: How did the Sheldon concert come together?
MORRIS: We actually played the Sheldon back in October 2015 for a concert called “250 Years of St. Louis Music: American Music at Its Best.” Paul Reuter, the executive director of the Sheldon, added us to the program along with Peter Martin, Alarm Will Sound, Billy Peek, Kim Massie and other artists. We ended up becoming good friends with Paul, and he told us he’d love to have us come back and do a show.
So for our ten-year anniversary, we thought it would be great to play a concert there and donate proceeds to a charity. And the one thing we could all agree on was to try and address the problem of schools cutting funding for music and arts programming. A lot of us in the band wouldn’t be where we are if there weren’t school music programs. So when I met with Paul about donating to a charity, I found out they had an in-house program called Music For Lifelong Achievement. We thought, “That’s it. It’s perfect!”
So having the University City High School jazz band open makes sense.
In a lot of ways. We want to show what happens when you give kids the opportunity to play instruments and to express themself through music, and what better than to have our alma mater opening for us? Simon, our bass player, and Chaz, our drummer, were also part of the U-City jazz band in school.
What about the “formal affair” part of the concert?
A lot of acts are great musically, but when they do a show, there’s nothing that sets it apart. When we do our shows, we want people to have a new, different experience. Hey, “formal affair” doesn’t mean that if you don’t have a suit we’re going to kick you out! But we want people to dress up, hang out with us and have a good time. The whole idea is that when you look good, you feel good.
What’s coming up for iLLPHONICS moving into 2017?
After being in this market for 10 years, it’s easy to burn yourself out by playing too much at home. The goal is to make our St. Louis appearances special events. So definitely look for some surprises coming up!
We’re also looking for booking agencies to take it beyond St. Louis. Right now we’re literally at the point where if the right person hears the right song or the right song gets on the radio at the right time, it can break things for the band. We’re trying to make that happen in 2017.
Featured photo courtesy of iLLPHONICS.