Moss Bluff native Gavin Trace Simon is an entrepreneur who’s involved with three business ventures and has created two YouTube channels. Simon is also a songwriter, singer and music video producer, and runs his own label: Marathon Records. The Up Fronter wrote about Simon at some length in a 2018 piece. It’s time for an update.
Gavin and Daniel LeJeune (his close high school friend and college roommate) began their automotive work together while they were at Louisiana Tech in Ruston. After classes and evening video games, they produced and edited videos on automotive topics. In the meantime, they were racing and doing repairs and enhancements on cars in a parking lot.
Simon has recently been hosting giveaways in which followers have a chance to become an owner of one of the team’s enhanced cars.
The team buys a car and modifies it. As this process is depicted in the blog, followers enter the contest. When work on the car is completed, a drawing is held. So far, six people have been awarded cars.
Simon’s channel averages more than 280,000 views a day; and had more than 250 million views around the world in the entirety of 2020.
The channel uploads new vlogs several times a week, documenting the adventures of Simon as he purchases, enhances and races vehicles. The team travels around, searching for new projects related to cars, motorcycles, trucks and side-by-sides.
Simon posts behind-the-scenes footage that demonstrates the disasters that often occur as well as the very rare perfect days. The team emphasizes that auto enthusiasts will make mistakes, but can get up and try it all again. The team members prove they can work through the disappointments. Viewers can easily relate to their struggles to get it right.
The trademark slogan for itsjusta6 is “don’t lose sight.” Some followers have had the slogan tattooed on their persons. There’s been a brisk demand for clothing and accessories, some bearing the slogan.
In 2019, Simon surprised followers when he revealed that much of the music for itsjusta6 videos is in fact his own. For a couple of years now, Simon and LeJeune have been making an effort to reveal their musical side. Simon performs under the name Trace, while Benoit is Mello. Trace and Mello released their first singles in 2019. Their initial EP, Bipolar, came out in March of that year. “Ten Toes Down” was the hit song of the record. The full album Freak Show, released in November, 2019, peaked at No. 3 on the iTunes Rap Albums Top 100. The duo’s album Dyson was released in 2020. Mello plans to release a solo album shortly. The recordings can be found on YouTube under the channel name itsjusta6. Learn more about the music at the site traceandmello.com.
Simon and his team have created a second extremely successful YouTube channel called Time.Out, which is already up to 260K subscribers. Watch such videos as “How to Legally Drive and Shoot a Tank in the US” and “Closing Down My Business Before it Even Opened.” (Simon’s business was going to be a motorcycle dealership.)
You can follow itsjusta6 on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
The Beat Goes On
Many people were buoyed by the whimsical musical videos Trip Wamsley posted during the COVID lockdown and Laura recovery. Wamsley continues to produce new music and videos. A recent trip to bandcamp.com reveals that Wamsley’s Bandcamp account is alive and well, with three different recordings having been posted since November, 2020.
Wamsley describes the cut “A Shred of Hope” as “a flirtation with EDM [electronic dance music] with solo bass. Starring me on bass guitar and devices.” Simple upbeat melodies are woven together over relatively fast beats. One and a half minutes into the song, an elaborate and very lyrical jazz melody is delivered via electric guitar.
“Reu de Seine” is “a fair and reasonable sonic assessment of this year . Negative and positive energies, if you would. It’s also a slight venture into a more unconventional view of rhythm section interaction. The drum track provided by Kevin Radomski maximizes time stretch and flow.” In keeping with the preceding language, “Reu” is a much more abstract and jazzy cut than “Shred.” A little ways into it, a deep bass line introduces an element that could be interpreted as funk or as sludgy metal. The cut ends with a snazzy collage of looped snippets of tape that’s reminiscent of Beatles glory. In addition to bass, Wamsley plays slide guitar and synth for this one.
In his notes for “Dream,” Wamsley relates that his son Xander has introduced him to “Future Funk,” which is “Japanese EDM with live instruments.” He also notes, “I like big ambient sounds. I like EDM. A lot.” He’s joined on this track by Charlie Guidry on beats and synths; Chris Nix on guitar; Kevin Radomski on drums and other percussion and Steven Higginbotham on strings.
In “Dream,” a long guitar jam has a ‘70s fusion jam feel. Another brief guitar solo goes much faster and works with much more complex melodies.
If all of that is not enough for you, there’s a sizeable backlog of Wamsley’s work on Bandcamp. One earlier project called “Glitch Kitchen” is a “swamp jam” with “a New York Yankee.” Other titles include “Dancing About Architecture” and “PTSCD (Post-traumatic Stupid Conversation Disorder).”
Wamsley sometimes uses the search term “experimental” in his descriptions of his Bandcamp recordings. Even though there are some experimental elements in these cuts, overall they are quite accessible. If you want to learn more, just go to Bandcamp.com and search for Trip Wamsley.
Folks in Southwest Louisiana were disappointed in the scant coverage that national media gave the region in 2005 after Hurricane Rita hit. The disappointment with the national coverage in 2020 and early 2021 was just as keen.
But some media outlets have tried. The Up Fronter has written before about several recent SWLA stories published in the New York Times. The various branches of NBC News have also made an effort. (I can’t recall whether I mentioned it here, but bright and early the morning after Laura’s landfall, an NBC van parked in front of my brother’s house and an NBC reporter interviewed him and other residents. No lie.)
On the next-to-last day of last year, NBC started a two-part story titled “Pain in the Bayous: Louisiana still reeling after 2020 hurricanes.” The report is loaded with video of really extreme hurricane damage in Cameron and Calcasieu.
Rebuilding SWLA’s Arts
The progress of Lake Charles’ efforts to rebuild its cultural institutions was chronicled in a Jan. 8 American Press story by Rita LeBleu.
The Historic City Hall is set to reopen in April or May. The appropriately titled exhibit for the reopening will be “A New Moon Rises.”
Matt Young explained the building’s extensive damage. Laura blew off the roof, he said, and “rainwater … poured in.” Then, a few weeks later, Delta “flooded the ground floor.”
The situation at the arts center at Central School was similar. Young said Central School “lost a lot of roof” and water damage was again the big culprit.
In spite of the long rebuilding schedule, “we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Young. The objective of the reconstruction is “to build back for efficiency and purpose.”
Repair costs will be in excess of $1 million.
Central School’s first floor has already reopened for business. The work for the rest of the building is expected to be done “by summer.”