II Big - Bursting Out of the Rock Scene
II BIG has a name that is befitting their sound. Their sound is very big and so are a few of their members. Two of the original members Joel and Buck Jordon are both 6'5", and the new lead singer Aubrey Hanson is 6'5" as well. Having pillars like that on stage certainly puts their name "II BIG" into perspective. The music on II BIG's first 2 CDs has a hard rocking edge to it while their newest CD, with guitarist Eddie Ottenstein, has a rock sound reminiscent of the Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger, and Bruce Springsteen. Anyway you look at it, this band of seasoned veterans have an across-the-board appeal that is hard to ignore. Their most recent release, "Sound Of The Highway" has that definitive '70s rock sound with the undying spirit and freedom that the music stems from. II BIG is currently in their studio working on their 4th CD, to be released later this summer, and the band plans to tour around California.
"Sound of the Highway"
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Ken Ingles, the drummer for the band, formed Russian River Records in 1994 with David Raitt, Bonnie Raitt's brother, in an effort to expose the great music talent in Mendocino County, California. Bonnie Raitt and Robin Ford are two local Ukiah musicians that are well known. Ken met the Jordon brothers in 1994 and formed the band. Jeff Jordon had been performing for years writing some great music. His brother played bass and his other brother played guitar. All three brothers had been singing together since they were kids.
On releases "Like It II Much" and "II Big for the Radio," the boys knock some heads around with crunching guitars and forceful vocals to kick it all up another notch. I enjoyed both versions of the band myself. When Eddie O came on board, they rocked on down the highway, a bit more tastefully for a broader based sound that a larger audience grabbed onto quickly. I look forward to hearing what II Big version three sounds like. The new lead singer is Aubrey Hanson and his brother Tom sings and writes half the songs, while Greg Dunbar sings back up and plays guitar.
"The new songs have a Bob Seger/Bruce Springsteen feel…that good down home rock with smooth vocals."
"Always in Trouble"
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When I asked Ken what are some of the bands predominant influences, he said, "All the classic rock bands have had some influence on our music. We add a little extra edge and boogie to any song we play. Like Steve Miller's "Mercury Blues" or ZZ Top's "La Grange," we rock it. We also have a little southern rock and country sound in some of our music. We do not have the heavy metal guitar sound any more, but the new songs have a Bob Seger/Bruce Springsteen feel... that good down home rock with smooth vocals. We also touch a little on the country rock edge. The brother's vocals have that southern rock edge that can give the music a cross over to country rock. We also have the Doobie Brothers' style and influence in some of our songs, with some funky get up and dance feel to them."
While opening for many national acts, the band played 100's of shows from 1994 to 1999. In 1997, they got the song "Tonight" on an MTV music video called "House of Style." In 1999, Ken met Eddy O who had played with The Youngblood's and Jesse Colin Young back in the 60' and 70's. He had been writing songs and was looking for a band. Eddy joined II BIG and his song writing style changed the direction of the band's music. They then added some new band members, brothers Aubrey and Tom Hansen, and continued on doing many shows and opening for national acts over at "Konocti Harbor and Spa." Their last show was with Ted Nugent. II BIG will be opening for several other big shows this summer at Konocti. Soon after the "Sound of the Highway" CD came out, Eddy's health went bad and he resigned from the band. Aubrey and Tom wrote two songs on the CD, they are both major songwriters. They have continued performing songs from the CD and writing new songs for the new release that they hope to have ready by summer. II BIG started with three brothers and it now has two new brothers leading its music. They added Greg Dunbar on guitar to replace Eddy O.
"Call on Me"
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II BIG's sound is quite diverse. That kind of flexibility enables them to play all kinds of styles of original music. It gives them a uniqueness that is rare in a world full of watered down radio friendly hits. With two brothers writing and playing together creating sibling chemistry, it allows for a nice variety of musical flavor to develop. Their listeners are the classic rock crowds that typically attend country fairs, biker runs and casinos. They feel confident that they can play any group of people their music with a positive outcome. That kind of confidence and exuberance comes straight at you, loud and clear in their music, leaving no doubt of their abilities and prowess as musicians.
"The five guys in the current line up are going to be together for a long time. This band is set to break out and have a lot of fun doing it."
According to Ingles, the five guys in the current line up are going to be together for a long time. This band is set to break out and have a lot of fun doing it. Ken commented, "We want to continue to market the band over the internet. II BIG was the number one artist on SHEHESHE music services getting radio play from over 1700 stations. Rhonda Kelly from Rainmaker Publicity sent our CD's out for reviews everywhere. We want to push the band hard leading up to the release of the new CD."
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I have no doubt, as a satisfied listener myself, that this band will continue to stay on a creative roll and make music that will remind of my teen years growing up in the '70s and I look forward to enjoying this great music for many years to come. This is a group that you will not ever see getting II Big for their britches; they are too down to earth for that kind of attitude. If they changed their chemistry and makeup, their sound would never be the same. I do not see anything like that happening with this band; they are a bunch of guys having fun playing music and appreciate the originality of their audiences.