Baxter native Izzy Dunfore will be hosting and performing at the First Avenue Speakeasy this Friday. “Dunfore’s Fun Daze,” a play on Baxter Fun Days, will also feature another local connection.
Red Pride will be on full display, as former Newton Cardinals Van Hartz will be performing. Van Hartz is a hip-hop trio that consists of vocalists Justin “J.V.” Van Weelden, Eric “Durty Erk” Hartz and producer/sound engineer Justin Hartz.
“When we first started, we didn’t have anything for him, he was just there,” J.V. said of Justin. “After our first show in Newton, we made some money and bought equipment. Justin bought some beat programs and a computer. He just sat out in our studio and kept working and working and learned on his own and became our producer.”
Van Hartz is a new group that was formed when the trio’s former group, Tru Dimensions, dissolved after losing group members Ray Dydell and Jason Gorusch.
“We went through three different vocalists,” J.V. said. “Ray split off from us. And Jason, Justin and Eric and I kept Tru Dimensions going. We made more music but never quite got an album done. Then Jason went off to Florida.”
With other members pursuing other interests, J.V. said that he, Durty Erk and Justin continued to make music together.
“Since my name is Van Weelden and they are the Hartz twins, Van Hartz was the perfect fit,” J.V. said of their namesake.
The group is anticipating dropping their debut album next year, and most of the materials were recorded at Beat It Up Productions Studio, which they own.
“I’ve got music that I did more than five years ago, that (Durty Erk) was in and we just haven’t put it out yet,” J.V. said. “Everything on the CD is going to be something new, something old and it’s just going to be the best of us.”
“Hopefully that’ll come out next year around the beginning of the year,” Durty Erk added.
They went on to explain why it has taken so long for them to put out a disc.
“I fell off the map when I had a family,” Durty Erk said. “Got married, had kids. After my last son was born, (J.V.) finally talked me into getting back into it. We are working hard at it and it motivated me.”
“Since we have our own studio, we record everything for free,” J.V. said. “It’s just that what you have to pay for, getting CDs printed, copyrighting, making sure everything is legal, that’s what the holdup is when you are trying to support your family.
“That’s what’s always slowed us down,” J.V. continued. “Time goes by and sometimes you forget about the music and then stuff reminds you of it. Then you remember who you are.”
While J.V. said they sometimes forgot about the music, they haven’t forgotten their roots. The duo express that they are not gangster rappers and are more akin to backpack rappers, such as Kid Cudi, who specialize in talking about real-life situations in their lyrics.
“We talk about real stuff,” Dirty Erk said.
“We look down on that,” J.V. said of rappers who rap about things they haven’t done. “I don’t even feel like a rapper. I feel more like an artist. Some of my songs have verses years apart on them and I’m showing different styles. Versatility is what I bring to the table.”
J.V. said that he specializes in rhyming about matters of the heart in songs and that they don’t mind implementing humor in their raps.
“We’re more like the old-Kanye (West),” Durty Erk said.
The group is very excited about a few upcoming events. There is Friday’s show at The First Avenue Speakeasy and they will also take part in the first-ever hip-hop show at the Maytag Bowl on July 27.
Izzy Dunfore will host his “Ugly” album release party at the bowl from 3 to 10 p.m. on that date. Tickets are $15 if purchased at Friday’s show and $20 after. Tickets can be purchased at The First Avenue Speakeasy or from either J.V. or Durty Erk.
“It’s history,” J.V. said.
“We did the first hip-hop show in Newton and now we are doing the first hip-hop show in the bowl,” Durty Erk said.
“Being able to do that show at the bowl, it just how much the town has grown,” J.V. said.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.