Standout Track: No. 2, “The Weather,” which grafts hip-hop production to Jon Braman’s ukulele-plucking and rapping. His spitfire verses indict FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina (“Keep saying, ‘We’ll adapt,’ but it’s crap because you can’t evac”), American youth in Iraq (“Got little kids coming of age…got hand grenades), and the viability of political rallies (“We had the power/But it only lasted for about an hour”). Though Braman’s outlook seems bleak, all is redeemed by the chorus: “I think if we stand together, maybe/We might just be able to get by.”
Musical Motivation: “We were exploring the different things hip-hop ukulele can be,” says Braman, who worked with producer Tim Bright to construct “The Weather” using the uke, hand claps, assorted percussion, and an Optigan, an obscure ’70s keyboard. The lush sonic palette echoes the 27-year-old Mount Pleasant resident’s variety of concerns. “Climatastrophunk,” he says, is “the funk that you feel in the face of ongoing climatic catastrophe.…[I’m] trying to make some music that reflects all those feelings.”
HellBent for Shoe Leather: Braman cites Common and Ani DiFranco as influences, but his music was also shaped by pounding the pavement for an environmental nonprofit. “Canvassing is a strange mix of beating your head against the wall and actually getting to see firsthand that we are all in this together,” he says. Today he maintains a day job researching green architecture and celebrates the portability of his chosen instrument. “I like to play in whatever little moment I have,” Braman says. “If you’re shopping, standing around bored, you can play the ukulele.…Sometimes I embarrass my wife, but it’s fun.”
Jon Braman plays Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 14U Cafe.