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Gizmo promises 'a solid groove' at D.C. performance

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

Don't look for a gremlin when checking out the music of Gizmo at Bohemian Caverns. Instead, expect a 22-year-old bass guitarist from Philadelphia named Kenneth Rodgers, whose parents nicknamed him after a favorite movie, "Gremlins." The name may be an attention-grabber, but it is the music of this highly talented graduate of Boston's Berklee School of Music that folks remember after hearing him play.

Upon releasing his debut album, "Red Balloon," Rodgers noted, "I've been struggling what to call my music. ... To me, in my heart, I feel like it's jazz -- although we're not swinging. Some people might say it's alternative, because I have some pop and some dub-step influences in there, as well. But I feel like I'm just trying to make honest music. Not doing something because it's in style."

Raised with a love of music from his Puerto Rican and African-American heritage, Gizmo was drawn to the guitar at an early age after being told his hands were too big to plays drums -- his first choice. While attending the prestigious Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts at the age of 16, he practiced constantly and played with local jazz and hip-hop cover groups. Soon after he was accepted into Berklee, where he realized that music could be a fulfilling career for him. Before long he found himself performing with renowned artists including Lalah Hathaway, Chris Brown and Marcus Strickland.

In fact, it is with saxophonist Strickland that he will perform music from "Red Balloon." Also joining him are Ilan Bar-Lavi on electric guitar, Jonathan Newman on drums and Samora Penderhughes at the keyboard.

Onstage
Gizmo and 'Red Balloon'
» Where: Bohemian Caverns, 2001 11th St. NW
» When: 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
» Info: $18 in advance, $22 at the door; 202-299-0800; bohemiancaverns.com

" 'Red Balloon' was written over a time period of two years," Gizmo noted. "It has a lot of different influences. I'm definitely trying to merge R&B and hip-hop. It's important to stay relevant. I never try to be too strange for no reason."

Indeed, he admits that behind all of the study, the contacts and influences, there is "a solid groove" that he wants to share with audiences.

"You are going to have an amazing night," Gizmo promised. "I don't think you're going to feel the time go by. We are going to be in the moment and you're going to feel like you're right there with us."

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