Jordan Okrend
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Jordan Okrend

Asheville, NC | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Asheville, NC | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Soul




"Dance by the Riverside by Jordan Okrend"

Asheville, NC based singer-songwriter Jordan Okrend is back with his 4th album. Following up 2015’s World Keeps Turnin’ The Jordan Okrend Experience’s latest release, Dance by the Riverside, is available now. Describing his goals for this project, Okrend said, ”The emphasis is on speaking to the human experience. I hope this album inspires and uplifts all who hear it.”
Dance by the Riverside opens with “Unknown Love.” With an eclectic array of musical weapons, “Unknown Love” hits with a heavy jazz vibe from the opening notes and goes on to feature a percussion backed horn solo that puts musicianship front and center. There is something old school romantic about this track that is soulfully addicting. The classic yet contemporary feel continues on “Stranded.” The jazzy horns reappear but “Stranded” lets the guitars fly which is always something special when Okrend is strumming the strings.
The upbeat title track “Dance by the Riverside” delves into a world that invites listeners to break from the shackles of modern society that prevent them from experiencing the freedom found in the simplicity of things like nature. One of the album’s several standouts, “Dance by the Riverside” changes things up tone wise by painting a picture about living life to the fullest and leaving baggage behind. Musically, the hooks grab you, but there is also a point where the horn and guitar take turns being showcased and it is as if they are engaged in conversation. “Tomorrow” and “Infinity” continue the positivity with “Tomorrow,” in particular, sounding like personal growth set to sound while the guitar playing on “Infinity” creates a funky desire to groove along. “Changing My Mind” opens with aspiring acoustic guitar and lyrically tells the story about the benefits of being in the right relationship and how that can change a person for the better. It is airy, fun and my favorite on the release.

The final two tracks on Dance by the Riverside epitomize Okrend as a musical poet activist. The attention grabbing drum work that kicks off “Join Me” sounds unlike any of the previous songs’ opening moments and works as a sort of sonic call to action. With lyrics like “I was born to be free/Won’t you come and join me?” this song is his invitation to everyone to break free from the confines that keep most of us feeling locked in a box. Part of what makes Okrend standout is his ability to weave together tunes that catch your ear while delivering a socially conscious message, something of a lost art. Relying solely on his impressive vocal range and guitar skills, “Unity” is a call for people to come together and end the divisiveness that tears us apart. Lyrically relevant and beautiful in its simplicity, “Unity” is the perfect bookend on another great effort by Okrend.
Infusing jazz with hints of pop and funk to create a niche sound that is all his own but that everyone can enjoy, Okrend’s latest offering delivers in a big way. Soulful vocals in the vein of Amos Lee and Allen Stone, expert instrumentation that includes everything from electric guitars to horns, and meaningful lyrics that go to the heart of life makes listening to Dance by the Riverside not only just a good time, but an experience. - IndieMinded

"Roots and the Globe: The Lyricism of Jordan Okrend"

Jordan Okrend draws on his Asheville roots, but blends in jazzy soulfulness and deeply thoughtful lyrics. Will this be his breakthrough year?

Singer-songwriter Jordan Okrend works in the rootsy scene of Asheville, North Carolina and hails from nearby Raleigh. But his artistic vision looks to global themes.

To call Okrend a singer-songwriter is to limit what he does and the kind of music he makes. It has the rootsy stylistic touches of an artist who grew up in the South. But there is also a very soulful and jazzy side to his music. Also belying the singer-songwriter tag, Okrend has a seductive vocal approach that recalls Amos Lee.

The lyrical side of Okrend’s music is very important to him. Even at a young age he was thoughtfully tackling weighty subjects such as teenage depression in his songs.

Okrend was very productive for the first few years of this decade. In 2010 he released the EP Unpredictable and in 2012 he came out with the EP Rising Up. Simultaneously, he attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston. He also played the Boston – New York club circuit. This further refined his performing chops and equipped him with unforgettable life-on-the-road experiences that continue to fuel his passion for songwriting. He then stretched even more, venturing to such far-flung destinations as Brazil and Hawaii.

In 2015 he released his third EP, World Keep Turnin’, another very big step in his recording career and easily has most confident effort to date.

Okrend has been very busy since settling in Asheville. He has toured extensively and along the way collected a gaggle of awards and new fans, including being named one of the top acts at MONDO NYC.

2017 is shaping up to be a big year for Okrend. He will release his first full-length album, Dance by the Riverside, which will display his socially-conscious lyrical strengths. It may even prove to be the pop breakthrough he so justly deserves. - SCENES

"Up-Tempo, Down River"

Jordan Okrend manages to have it both ways. He’s a pop artist, but one who incorporates more ambitious forms into his original music without sacrificing a strong melody. The Berklee College of Music graduate recently released his third disc, Dance by the Riverside, recorded at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville.
How do you reconcile the two different approaches to music: the studied, scholarly approach of Berklee and the unschooled “feel” approach that’s more associated with rock, soul, and R&B?
In my mind, they come together. All that practice and theory is unconscious when I’m writing. I think more about a cool groove and melody rather than that technical stuff. When I write music, it’s all about what I hear and feel, all from an intuitive standpoint.

You moved recently: what brought you from New York City to Western North Carolina?
Part of it was family; my folks live in Black Mountain. But I grew up in North Carolina. And the music scene here is really kicking off; it’s really vibrant. People are really down to earth, and there’s a greater spirit of a town. Also, I love hiking, I love nature. You get a lot of that around here, which you don’t have in New York City.

You took part in a Brown Bag Songwriting Competition last November at Asheville Music Hall. How did that go?
I made it to the final round, and won second place. That event got my name out a little more. And to have that on my résumé — especially with me being new to the area — certainly helps.

Some of the chords in songs like “Infinity” on Dance by the Riverside remind me a bit of vintage Steely Dan; though they were nominally a rock band, jazz informed their music. Is the same true of you?
Yes. I do try to subtly interject jazz fusion into my pop songwriting. I’ll just add little voicings within songs to give a jazz edge, and use saxophone in my full-band performances.

There’s a strong social consciousness that runs through your lyrics, but it’s not at all preachy. What kind of themes do you try to convey?
A lot of my music is based on personal empowerment and hope. I write a lot about things like seeing the light in the dark, achieving your full potential, and becoming greater than what you are now, getting out of a tough spot. I just like to be positive and try to uplift people; I think that’s what people need to hear, especially today.

Your song “Unity” is especially timely right now. Are the lyrics related to last November’s presidential election?
Yeah. I often write about social things, my interpretation of what I’m seeing. “Unity” is my take on seeing people fighting on Facebook. It’s about people coming together in the face of all these socially divisive things that are pushed on us every day. We’re all human, and we should all try to be friends. - Bold Life

"The Jordan Okrend Experience: Poet, Guitarist, Activist"

Jordan Okrend invited us into his room for a performance during SCENES Live Sessions recently (June 16). The famous Beatles poster of band members crossing Abbey Road together hung behind him on one wall, and an Indian style tapestry hung on the wall adjacent him.

These two images depict Okrend perfectly in his love for iconic music and world travel. He has an approachable, every-man quality behind his rare talent.

Okrend has an uncanny range that sneaks up on you. He easily goes from a gutteral, raspyness, to powerful high notes in one verse. His ability to carry this off reminds me a bit of one of my recent favorites, the hip hop/blues Rag N Bone Man himself. Okrend’s guitar playing includes jazz, blues and rock qualities that also work to showcase his versatility.

His lyrics are heartfelt, and for the most part, meant for the more in-depth thinker. In his first song for his live Session, Tomorrow, Okrend explores the positivity of thinking about how no matter what’s happened in your past, tomorrow holds the promise of being better. His second song that he shared was Dance by the River, the title track to his upcoming album due out in a couple days (June 23). “Can’t keep up all the time…I just want to dance by the riverside,” Okrend let loose. This one proves to be a lighter offering meant for anyone who just wants to take a breather, put down their cares for a while, and dance.

His final song, Unity, was a call to action much like songs Bob Marley offered up during tumultuous times. Okrend, like Marley challenges us to be unified more than we are separated by the events around us. “Waiting for unity that’s taken a backseat. Praying for some sanity to rise up from defeat,” he sings. This song speaks most to his personal as well as spiritual philosophies of one’s power to rise above externals in life, finding meaning, joy and fulfillment in spite of what’s going on around, and recognizing human potential.

When asked about his songwriting process, Okrend had this to offer, “For me the music and melody usually come first. I’ll either hear a groove in my head or I’ll just be jamming out on the guitar. I’ll figure out a cool chord progression, and then I’ll follow it with a nice melody. Sometimes I’ll write the chorus first, establish a theme, or will just come up with a verse first. Once I get a verse and chorus together, I go from there. Usually when I write, it happens fast and spontaneously.”

The fact that he resides in Asheville is apropos for his style of music. The city has gradually risen in the ranks of noted music cities for the last few years and shows no signs of slowing down. “There are countless venues and places to play. We have a very diverse mix of music and the area tends to attract creative types and music lovers. The small community also makes it easier to connect with other musicians and take part in many of the organizations that are helping to grow the music scene here,” Okrend says of his home base.

With the release this week of his upcoming album and his continued efforts there’s no question he’ll continue to stand out among Asheville’s artists and we’ll be undoubtedly hearing more of the Jordan Okrend Experience. - SCENES

"Jordan Okrend ‘Dance By The Riverside’:"

Ashville-based singer-songwriter Jordan Okrend’s jazzy soulful renditions are emblazed with energetic vibes, enlightened social commentary, and a sound that is best described as infectious jazz addictive tunes with a twist of funk embedded into the mixture.

Okrend’s first two EP’s, Unpredictable and Rising Up, was released between 2010 and 2012 while he was attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. His last EP. World Keeps Turnin’, is a marked move toward imbuing the sounds of other revival soul upstarts such as, Allen Stone and Michael Kiwanuka. Okrend has been performing extensively in live venues throughout the East Coast from the very start.

Okrend’s latest album, Dance By The Riverside, is underlined with the punk spirit, embossing socially aware lyrics into his strum of retro-era and soulful jazz-influenced, funk vibe.

The album opens with “Unknown Love,” a track that has a funky feel to the production that is produced with a stellar brass section. The savvy sounds of horns and saxophone erupts with a retro-twist, paving the track with an amped feel to the altogether groovy sound. This is a feel-good track as well as filled with sonically enhanced arrays of jazz and funk into the bluesy ensemble.

The next song, “Stranded,” is, too, filled with an energetic vibe. The buoyant sound is attired with a bouncy, groovy vibe with electric guitars and bass delineating on rhythms. The track also resonates with a great bluesy vibe filled with funk and a retrospective sound. The reverberating guitars on this guitar heavy track incorporates a lively horn section that gives the song its distinct feel.

The title-track, “Dance By The Riverside,” is driven by an amped vocal and soulful vibe. The socially conscious lyrics about social media tied in with the enthused sound makes you altogether feel alive and the great flow and soundscape atmosphere gives off a bouncy jive. Add in the drums and this gives the landscape of the music a more rhythmic pulse, attesting to a more jaunty beat. This guitar clad song goes on an old school tangent, with its rocking vibe giving off a classic rock feel.

“Tomorrow” layers in distinct harmonies and contagious hooks to contribute to the over-arching soulful sound that triumphantly enlists soaring and uplifting harmonies and a great acoustic feel. The spiraling sound dressed with harmonizing vocals, a driving beat from the drums, and rhythmic strumming from the acoustic guitar is intoxicating.

“Infinity” mixes in a jazz sound with some gritty blues. The steady drumming underlined with a clear retro-funk sound honed on this recording is encased in a soulful and inviting vibe.

These bluesy renditions are jolted with a clear-cut great live sound. This is evident on the acoustic guitar on “Changing My Mind” that has a great interlay of finger work on the guitar, in the melodic layers of “Join Me” that is jumpstarted by the fiery sound of drums and the dynamic duress of the electric guitar solo that sounds-off mid-song, and the political release of “Unity,” an ambitious funk-heavy acoustic live track about the election this past year.

After releasing 3 sonically raw and authentic EPs, Okrend soldiers on with these original compositions on his latest, Dance By The Riverside. These stellar musical flares of infectious hooks are heighten by the artistry of each track on this exciting compilation that is jam-packed from the get-go with a granular bluesy style and retro-stance beat. This collection of vibrant blues and funk, retro-twist songs has each track followed by an enthused jam-session and a welling of tight musicianship filled with the amp spirit. There is definitely a polished feel to this record, followed up by a great live sound. It is obvious that Okrend can deliver; Dance By The Riverside ends with a bang with “Unity,” which was recorded as a live acoustic set imbued with the punk spirit as the song talks about the politically divided and advising us to unite as a “remedy” to impart change for future generations. Appealing with an ostentatiously funk-driven, bluesy approach, there is a clanging energy to the soulful track.

The scope of the record is altogether unfazed by the pop sector of mainstream music. Instead, it seems like Jordan Okrend chooses to focus on his own unique sound. Speaking out on what he hopes to achieve with his music, Okrend says: “The emphasis is on speaking to the human experience. I hope this album inspires and uplifts all who hear it.” 7.8/10

My Nguyen

The album is out now! -

"POPDOSE PREMIERE: Jordan Okrend Experience, “Dance By the Riverside”"

Throughout music through the ages, songwriting has incorporated just causes, from civil rights to the environment. In that vein, Jordan Okrend and his Experience brings his own unique blend of timeless pop, rock, folk, and a touch of funk and jazz to the table. The singer/songwriter, who’s based in the musical hotbed of Asheville, NC, prides himself on creating songs that speak to every listener, everywhere. “The emphasis is on speaking to the human experience,” he says.
His new album, Dance By the Riverside, combines the best of old-school sounds with modern references, like social media and ghosting. Unlike someone who’s trying to be ultra hip and current, however, the cohesiveness of his writing makes it all work. And, of course, there’s the message and intent behind his work — and it’s an important, positive one. “I hope this album inspires and uplifts all who hear it,” he says.

Check out the video for title track from Jordan Okrend’s new album (out June 23) below — now making its Popdose Premiere! - POPDOSE

"Album Review : Jordan Okrend's "World Keeps Turnin'""

"World Keeps Turnin'", Album Review, FOLK, jam band, Jordan Okrend, singer song writer, Wil —
Sep 15
Album Review : Jordan Okrend's "World Keeps Turnin'"

It’s time to meet Jordan Okrend. To call him a singer- songwriter is an oversimplification, as he has created his own path in the ever-thickening forest of popular folk music. You could compare him to the likes of John Mayer due to his often reserved vocal delivery, but Jordan is much more soulful than Mayer, when "World Keeps Turning" begins to roll, he proves he is not just limited to the blues as the song owes more to jazz fusion with slight funk undertones to its groove and some shade of r& b in the backing vocals. The guitar solo smoothly adds to the song and allows them to build when they come back into the bridge. The groove thickens on "Too Much to Love", which balances out rock drive with upbeat soul that is not overly reliant on the bass line. The mix is warm and organic like they are playing in your living room. At time this reminds me of Maroon 5, but with more of a jammy playfulness, than an overt addiction to putting the hook in your face. "Never Alone With You " comes the closest to dipping into the blues, though it is more the angle of what it might sound like if Ray Lamontagne jammed with Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

"Keep Coming to You" is rambling and light hearted against the impassioned metaphor love song lyrics. The guitar riff keeps the song moving and allows plenty of room for the melody. This song has one of the album's most radio friendly choruses. “Go My Way” starts off with just strum of guitar and Jordan’s vocals and then build up into a similar brand of groove-oriented pop rock with a loose folk center. The acoustic version of the first, strips every thing down to vocals and guitar, giving you a clearer picture of Okrend's vocals. His strength is his phrasing and smooth delivery, he is by no means Robert Plant, but is capable enough, even with the moments of falsetto in the stripped version of "World Keeps Turning." The focus on the vocals here also puts a spotlight on his knack for creating harmonies.

He is not recreating the wheel when it comes to folk music and there are several elements of what he does which might have a sense of familiarity when you hear them, but he has his own identity. If you want more from your singer songwriters than just strumming a guitar over programmed beats, then Okrend’s live sound will be a welcome departure as he fills the canvas with the instruments he paints these songs with a grace that doesn’t lose sight of serving the song. While this album would have been best served for a few beers at the beach, his music works just as well around at an autumn bon fire or as rainy morning picks me up for those you want something more upbeat than say Damien Rice. Okrend’s new album is something you will find yourself returning to even as the seasons change. - Hiplanta

"PREMIERE: Jordan Okrend — "Go My Way""

Having grown up in North Carolina playing guitar since he was seven, Jordan Okrend eventually made his way up north first to attend the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston before settling in New York City after graduation. Okrend released two EPs — in 2010 and 2012 — and his latest effort, World Keeps On Turnin' is his most promising yet. Today, we're excited to premiere Okrend's journey through New York City in his video for "Go My Way," a song that is a positive look at life's virtues. - Purevolume

"New Video: Jordan Okrend - Go My Way"

New York-based singer Jordan Okrend recently released the video for his latest single, “Go My Way,” which was directed by Alan McIntyre Smith.

The video was shot guerilla-style in the midst of a busy New York City subway while Jordan solemnly shared an intimate, head-on acoustic moment with the viewer. On the song, he explores the infinite possibilities and positive sides of life even when they seem to be out of reach. Optimistic as it is relatable, the song and video’s message speaks volumes in a world of uncertainty.

You can find “Go My Way” on Jordan’s latest EP titled World Keeps Turnin, which blends pop-rock and acoustic soul together to tell a promising story. Give the album a listen and look out for more endearing music from Jordan Okrend. - Occur

"A Review: Jordan Okrend’s ‘Go My Way’"

Jordan Okrend released his latest music video, “Go My Way” on September 22nd. The New York based singer songwriter has been playing from a young age. He attended Berklee College of Music where he released his projects “Unpredictable” and “Rising Up”. Sonically Jordan’s sound is rooted in acoustic soul, blues, folk, and rock. His music is comforting. Hope is brought to life by his socially conscious lyrics. Okrend aims to uplift and encourage the listener and perhaps most importantly himself.

New York City is the stage to many performers and artists. There are stages just walking through city streets, down to subway stations, sitting in parks, glimpsing at murals on walls, and roaming through Times Square. New York has a vibrancy and electricity. So it’s fitting that Okrend uses these scenes in his music video.

Okrend sings, “Even though the world has gone crazy, something’s going to go my way.” The intensely populated city, one where many hustle, have multiple jobs, work hard in order to conquer their dreams, is the perfect setting for this song. Most New Yorkers can relate to the grind and struggle it is to live in this vast city, yet also the courage and commitment it takes to keep going. New York is full of people who truly believe “Something is going to go their way”.

Shot and directed by Alan McIntyre Smith the cinematography is quite lovely. It’s amazing that as Okrend sings, barely anyone seems to notice him or look in his direction. This is true to how it is in New York. Fashion shoots, films, and performances happen all the time and people pass by without even stopping to look. With so many people, it’s easy to get lost, to feel invisible. In the case of this video, it feels like the only person in the city is Okrend. There are bodies and people, but this is Okrend’s story and for the two minutes and fifty four seconds it lasts, that’s all that matters.

Stream the album on his Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages. Like his Facebook and Twitter pages. For more information check out his website. Watch videos on his Youtube page. - This Is Not The Radio

"CD Review: World Keeps on Turnin’ by Jordan Okrend"

Raised in North Carolina and currently based in New York City, musician Jordan Okrend has been playing the guitar since he was 7 years old. His innate talent and early affection for music quickly developed into a passion and by his late teens, he was off to Berklee College of Music in Boston. While a student there, Okrend released his first two EPs, Unpredictable and Rising Up, and toured the East Coast in support of both. Three years later and showing remarkable growth as an artist, Okrend’s latest release, the six track World Keeps on Turnin’, is his best work yet.

World Keeps on Turnin’ opens with its title track. The uplifting acoustic guitar playing sets the tone for this song that examines the world, all of its imperfections and how no matter what we face, “The world will keep on ‘turnin’ anyway.” Okrend manages to musically impress here by adding just a touch of jazz to his sound creating layers that keep things interesting. “Too Much to Love” kicks off with notes of blues, funk and rock but this song is as much about the soulful electric guitar solo as anything else. The ballad “Never Alone With You” brings us to the mid-way point of the release. With the acoustic playing being taken to higher levels with each song, this track lyrically celebrates the qualities of a partner and is again, turned up many notches by Okrend’s extremely skilled guitar playing.

The 2nd half of World Keeps on Turnin’ begins with “Keep Coming to You,” which offers an addictive rhythmic guitar riff and lyrics such as “Like I’m merging into the eye of your storm/With my body and my soul/I keep coming to you.” The pop infused “Go My Way” is a socially observant track that sees the artist remaining innately positive even as he addresses the difficulties of life. It’s hard not to root for Okrend as he sings “Even though the whole world’s gone crazy/Somethings gonna go my way.” Or as he once explained, “With ‘Go My Way’ I wanted to portray the power of the human spirit and its ability to reach beyond the darkness of the world to experience the true vitality life has to offer.” World Keeps on Turnin’ ends as it began with a nowhere to hide acoustic version of the title track. Even in this most natural form with just his voice and an acoustic guitar, Okrend succeeds which is a testament to his talent.

With a songwriting structure that uses advanced acoustic guitar playing to draw listeners in before layering with additional instruments and soul-stirring lyrics, World Keeps on Turnin’ fires on all cylinders. Okrend’s blues based guitar solos throughout are comparable to John Mayer’s style of using the guitar more than the vocals to convey the raw emotion of a song. It is something many guitarists try, but very few pull off. With a promising future and nothing but room to continue to develop, singer-songwriter Jordan Okrend is bound to make his mark on the music industry.

World Keeps on Turnin’ is available now via iTunes. - Indie Minded

"TVD Premiere: Jordan Okrend, “Empty Space”"

Mellifluous singer-songwriter Jordan Okrend fills “Empty Space” with colorful fusion.

We have the pleasure of premiering the newest single from the NYC musician whose latest EP, “The World Keeps Turning,” drew inevitable comparisons to the soulful side of John Mayer due to its intoxicating fusion of rock and blues.

This time Jordan skews that combo in favor of a more jazzy approach which pays off handsomely in its seductive groove and late night contemplative lyricism.

Okrend has some powerful musical bravado—possibly gleaned from his time at Berklee—but he is also mellow and authentic, providing his eclectic tunes with the emotional grit and heft to engage both smaller audiences—and populated festivals. - The Vinyl Distric



The Jordan Okrend Experience is more than one thing. First, there is the signature sound, vintage pop imbued with an infectious funky jazz edge.  There is also something else. Soulful music with socially conscious lyrics, that has all been but lost in today’s current pop climate.

​The Asheville NC based singer/songwriter released his first two EP’s, Unpredictable and Rising Up, between 2010 and 2012 while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been performing extensively throughout the East Coast ever since. Has performed at notable venues such as Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End, Smiths Olde Bar, Gypsy Sally's and The Grey Eagle. His 2015 EP World Keeps Turnin was a clear indication that Okrend had thrown his hat into the ring of other soul revival upstarts such as Allen Stone and Michael Kiwanuka. The EP blended the old school with the contemporary while echoing the conscious elements of his musical heroes-Lennon, Hendrix and Marley.

​Okrend's latest album, Dance By The Riverside (2017) is a buoyant meditation of the stresses of the modern world, with a distinctively funk and retro soul vibe. IndieMinded says" Okrend’s latest offering delivers in a big way, Soulful vocals in the vein of Amos Lee and Allen Stone, expert instrumentation that includes everything from electric guitars to horns, and meaningful lyrics. "

Notable Opener:

Crystal garden ft. Boyd Tinsley of Dave Matthews Band

Jimmy Herring Band



LAAF Festival 

Soulshine Farm Festival 



2nd Place Finalist - Brown Bag Singer Songwriter Competition, Asheville, NC-2016

Finalist-International Songwriting Competition, 2015- Song, GO MY WAY!

Nominated Asheville Music Video Awards 2017

Band Members