Article appeared in the Topeka Capital-Journal and CJ Online
Friday, January 21, 2000
Reprinted with permission

photo: electriccafe

 The members of Jabberwockie are, from left, Rich Van Schaick, bass guitar; Jake Livgren, rhythm guitar and vocals; Ryon Lawton, drums and vocals; and Shawn O'Trimble, lead guitar and vocals.

Scott D. Weaver/The Capital-Journal

Through the looking glass
Jabberwockie tries to find its path in a musical wonderland.

The Capital-Journal

Sometimes finding one's way through the mystical maze of modern music can have performers seeing Mad Hatters and Cheshire Cats.

Jabberwockie, a Topeka band that drew its name from Lewis Carroll's nonsensical poem, "Jabberwocky," knows the frustration of seeing the other side of the looking glass but not being able to pass through the transcendent barrier.

"We did covers for a long, long time, but we decided we were going to buckle down and do our own music," Livgren said. "I kind of like adopted my uncle's philosophy: that we're going to do this or die trying."

The uncle Livgren referred to does know a thing or two about the music industry. Kerry Livgren is a founding member of the progressive rock band Kansas and the writer of the band's best-selling singles.

Kerry Livgren mastered Jabberwockie's self-titled, five-track EP at his GrandyZine Recording Co. studio in rural Shawnee County.

"Jabberwockie," which was produced, recorded and mixed by Matt LaPoint at Mercy Studios, Lawrence, recently was released on the senior Livgren's own label, Numavox.

The self-described "pop rock" written by O'Trimble and Jake Livgren is getting airplay on regional radio stations, and the band is booking dates to promote the EP.

O'Trimble said the band had considered breaking up, but decided it was time to make their own brand of music.

"It's now or never. It's time to go for it," O'Trimble said.

Having a veteran like Kerry Livgren master the final work was special, with Lawton saying, "It made the music deeper and fuller."

Kerry Livgren shares the hopes for Jabberwockie and a special fondness for his nephew's voice.

"I've used him in the past (on recordings) because he was my nephew and because he was convenient, but now he is just killing me. He's my vocalist of choice," the senior Livgren said. "I've watched him mature as a singer and helped him in the process, hopefully."

However, Kerry Livgren knows how much tougher it is now to break into the music business than it was when he helped found Kansas.

"In the '60s there were many places for bands to play," he said. "Every high school had a varsity dance on Friday night, so there were at least six gigs going on. There were clubs all over town that had live music and there were fraternity dances. I mean all kinds of stuff. Things going on at the National Guard Armory. It's not happening anymore."

Jabberwockie got great exposure last August when it opened for Firehouse at the Center Stage, but that venue has since folded.

"This used to be a hot spot for music," Lawton lamented.

However, the band isn't ready to give up. They are booking gigs in the area and have set new goals.

"If we're not signed by a label by June, we're moving to Los Angeles -- the whole band," O'Trimble said.

So what are their chances?

"In my opinion they have a shot at doing something nationally if they can get the break," Kerry Livgren said. "It's a long shot from Topeka, Kansas, but it can be done as I can testify."

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