Local Musician Shines

Richard Duboc / The Pioneer

Richard Duboc

Who says you can’t find good music in Hayward? You can. You just might have to go out looking for it.

At the Bistro on B Street they pride themselves on providing a venue for local people to hear local musicians. If you head out there on a Monday night you might be able to catch more than what would usually be expected at the weekly open-mic night. Last Monday patrons were treated to professional grade music courtesy of some home spun talent.

The confines of the Bistro lend itself to musical consumption along with the consumption of the many exotic and not-so-exotic beers on tap. Inside, there is a musky heaviness which gets its bite from the glow of the red and yellow stage lights, which seem to be on constantly. It might not be European, but it does seem slightly removed from Hayward.

You know it’s a genuinely unique atmosphere when the bartender jumps behind the drums for an impromptu jam.

Accompanying him was Nazim Chambi on guitar, who launched into an inspired rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s classic “Hey Joe.” With his flowing hair, Chambi played through a sonic swirl of distortion and bombast on his gold colored Fender that  would have pleased even the late, great Hendrix.

Although Chambi has spent the last five years down in Los Angeles performing live, and recording as a studio musician, he grew up in Fremont and attributes the Bistro as playing a seminal role in his musical journey.

“This is the place where I first had the balls to play on stage,” said Chambi.

The crowd knew when Jordan Lee McMurray casually walked on to the stage that they were dealing with something special. McMurray has been a mainstay at the open-mic night of late and has already honed his amateur talents into a finely sharpened point, which cuts through any background conversation.

Accompanied only by the strumming of his guitar, Jordan delivers a vocal melody which blends the sounds of Ben Harper with classic Motown soul.

His original song “When You Come Around” mournfully chronicles the slow progression of a painful relationship which the audience can vividly feel when McMurray sings, “I know that I only slowly weigh you down.”

After crooning through three songs, McMurray decided to change the pace by playing another, more upbeat, selection called “A Beautiful Life.”

“That one kind of dragged us down,” he said. “I’m going to bring us back up.”

There is a unique soul behind McMurray’s music that is reflective of the man who makes it. The deep complexities of his melodies are intertwined with his philosophical outlook on life, which is generally upbeat.

“We’re all pieces of life. I’m just a thread in the grand tapestry of things,” says McMurray as he sits outside the Bistro following his performance. “I just happen to play music.”

Jordan may feel he’s just another person singing along in the key of life, but his natural talents may stem from his musical family. Growing up in San Leandro and all over the East Bay, his father Ron-e-Lee was a blues singer and a harmonica player and his mother was also a singer.

“I’m from the hip-hop generation, but I also like rock, blues. I feel the island music. I feel all music,” said McMurray of his eclectic musical tastes. However, he draws his main musical inspiration from the world he sees around him.

“I’ve always been dibbling and dappling with harmony. I’ll hear a sound, a tone, and feel an emotion.”

Whatever he’s doing to drive his musical creativity, it’s working because McMurray has developed the musical chops to garnish himself some serious regional, and maybe one day national, attention.

“I want to play some shows. I want to headline around this big bad world,” he says of his future aspirations, which he raps off in casual conversation with the same lyrical and melodic consistency that he uses when he sings.

But, it’s all about bringing out the joy of the music which McMurray genuinely believes that his listeners can benefit from.

“I just hope when I sing, I hope for people to be inspired, to smile and better their life.”

So for now, remember that Hayward does in fact offer a rich blend of cultural flavors that can be had just down the street, if you’re willing to look for them.