Artist Spotlight: Pocket Change, Armstrong Ransome

Armstrong Ransome.

A jazzy hip hop night occurred at Company Brewing Saturday evening, bringing out an intimate but energetic crowd. Vinyl DJ sets from Alex Takton, Brotha Kandoo, DJ Avets, and DJ Killa Kuts along with performances from Pocket Change and Armstrong Ransome took place, complete with Mic Crawf emceeing.

Pocket Change is a jazz/neo-soul fusion group led by guitarist Nate Pflughoeft and backed by bassist TJ McHatten, drummer Josh McHatten, keyboardist Isaiah Joshua, and recurring vocalists Kallie Palm and Cesar Hernandez. This current lineup’s first gig was this past Wednesday.

“Before that it was just a quartet,” Pflugheoft said. “I was handling the singing…but recently we added Kallie – she just moved here from Chicago a couple months ago and was looking to get into the scene, and she’s a mutual friend of my roommates. She hit me up on Instagram and wanted to make music. Cesar sat in on a gig of one of the other bands I play in, and just kind of blew me away, so I was excited to work with him. I invited him to sit in on the Pocket Change gigs, and now if we do record (which hopefully we will do within the next six months) we’d have him on that.”

Pflughoeft says the name of the band he came up with on the fly.

“My actual name is not terribly marketable, so we came up with a different name for the group. Since we do pocket groove stuff, Pocket Change came out of it. I think there’s a lot of other bands named Pocket Change, so if we have to change it so be it. It is what it is for now.”

The band has had a residency on the last Wednesday of the month at The Jazz Estate. This month will be the final one.

“It has been that for the past few months, but this month is the last official day of that residency that I know of,” Pflughoeft said.

They play a mixture of covers and originals; the covers usually have Palm singing.

“The covers are more in the R&B vein,” Pflughoeft said. “We sometimes doctor them up a little bit…we’ll take solos and improvise over them. The originals are kind of my conglomerations of shit that I listen to. They’re harmonic ideas that I like and piece together, then throw a melody over. I want to work more on developing more thoroughly-composed tunes, especially now that we have vocals. I’m not the best at writing lyrics so having a vocalist opens up so many more possibilities as far as song structure. I’m looking forward to that.”

Pocket Change plays Enlightened Brewing Company on the 8th, and their Jazz Estate show is the 27th. They plan to also do a house show at Pflughoeft’s place in which they will take video to use for an EPK (electronic press kit).

Armstrong Ransome is the stage name of Adebisi Agoro II. A hip hop artist, he has been performing in Milwaukee’s music scene for two decades. He originally selected the name Armstrong Ransome as a production moniker, and has worked under several variations in the time he has performed.

“I’m always excited to play a show at home. I only play about four times a year in Milwaukee, and the energy tonight was great.”

His most recent album “Dedicated” came out in July 2018.

“I was recording that project the last year of my son’s life. It was a project I was working on at home – creating the beats, mixing, and mastering all at home. I wanted to make an organic-sounding project…something honest. Before I completed it my son passed away, and it just so happens the songs on it kind of fit the moment. “Dedicated” – something I am as a father – was a song my son and I would listen to, so it was only right to dedicate the song and album to him and his passing.”

He talks about what he is working on now.

“I’ve been recording a lot of music still. I’ve got a single in the mixing-mastering phases that we’re putting out soon. I’m emceeing the 2019-2020 season for Marquette Basketball and doing some vinyl DJ sets, and I got some things in the works in Chicago and Detroit.”

Armstrong Ransome just completed a coat drive in honor of his son, where over a hundred coats were collected to give to kids in need. May his son’s life forever be a blessing.

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