Turkuaz

06 May 2016 - The Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Band Members:  Dave Brandwein - guitar, vocals; Taylor Shell - bass; Craig Brodhead - guitar, keyboards; Michelangelo Carubba - drums; Chris Brouwers - trumpet, keyboards; Greg Sanderson - tenor saxophone; Josh Schwartz - baritone saxophone, vocals; Sammi Garrett - vocals, tambourine; Shira Elias - vocals

    Just like that it was the second evening of our two night Colorado run with Turkuaz, this time at The Fox Theatre Boulder, right near The Lot Scene’s Western HQ — one of my home venues.  Serendipitous for us, no doubt and we took full advantage of the proximity.  Besides, more Turkuaz was on the menu that night…and what a delicious prospect that was.  After Thursday night’s stellar performance, we already knew we were in for a treat as Turkuaz was sure to bring the heat.  Again.  As always.  You don’t call yourself a “power funk” band unless you can back that up.  And, oh boy, can Turkuaz back that very claim.  You bet your boots, good people.  The Nth Power did another bang-up job of providing a super high energy opener for Turkuaz to follow, much to the wide appreciation of the Boulder crowd.  But then it was time for the main event and there wasn’t an ear in the house not trained on the speakers nor an eye not focused on the stage, all eagerly waiting for that troupe of colorful characters to deliver their funky funkness.  It was time, indeed…

Chris Brouwers

Chris Brouwers

    The gentlemen of the band came out first and ripped into a groovy instrumental breakdown as an intro to their set.  Greg threw down one of his famous sax solos early on serving to whip the energy that much further up the scale straight out of the gate.  It was as if a sign on the wall said:  “For instant dancing to marvelous funk, just add Turkuaz.”  Because that is basically what happened to the room of us music adventurers gathered together at the Fox.  And delightfully so.  They followed this with a rousing version of “The Rules” with the ladies joining the men on stage in very fine fashion, as always.   Horns, vocals, funk…action!!  And, bang, we were off again on that freaky fresh freight train that is a live Turkuaz show.  Some seriously mean bass coming down from Taylor Shell on this one, as well.  That man is built of some serious groove matter, ’tis true.  Next up was a new and unfamiliar song to me, but a fantastic one nonetheless…you know, kind of a theme with this band, right?  Powerful vocals from Dave, Shira, and Sammi here not to mention some great keys to boot.  Love the soulful, jazzy jam session in the middle here, too.  A big ol’ guitar solo from Craig added quite a bit to the mix as well, again just so taken aback by the incredible nature of their ensemble sound, even during solos.  And then there were the keys…all those glorious keys.  Back and forth between Brouwers and Brodhead and then back again.  Magnificent.  Really dug that one to be sure there can be no doubts.  “20 Dollar Bill” was next in line that evening for us and we were treated to a superb upbeat version of the song which was reflective of the overall energy of the band and the evening at large.  Dave was on lead vocals for this one and took the opportunity to step out with a big helping of musical attitude on the lyrics.  This was backed up note-for-note by Sammi and Shira.  Big energy to this one, and bold, too.  Some incredibly nice interplay between Josh’s bari sax and Taylor’s bass here providing the perfect backdrop for a bright and brassy trumpet solo from Chris.  Big band magic at its finest.  And that unmistakable spinal cord of the entirety, Mike Carubba on drums, mighty master of the beat and meteoric all at once.  You add all these parts together and you get so much more than the sum, my friends.  You get Turkuaz.  Enough said on that, methinks.  An explosive and gleefully volatile “Back to Normal” followed “20 Dollar Bill” with Brandwein again on the lead vocals.  This one was a seriously intense run through some madcap musical merriment, believe you me.  Big on more keys from the boys, this song is run through with huge “B” sections filled to the brim with exquisite musical texture and enjoyment.  Lots of entertaining choreography here as well to entice the eyes as well as the ears — yet another reason I love this band so much.  And let’s not forget that monster breakdown in the middle region of this number:  huge.  Just huge.  Almost too much.  That’s what you get from this band at times…almost too much awesome.  Think that sounds like something you might be interested in?  I certainly hope so.  Next up was a selection from the new album Digitonium, “Bijou Drains, The Birddog”, which we captured for your viewing pleasure here: 

That song is just so catchy, like so many on that album.  Kudos to the band for writing such memorable music…and many thanks as well.  Next up was another new live one to me from Turkuaz, “M’Lady”, yet one more up energy powerhouse, heavy on sax and heavy on a quick and savvy tempo from Mike.  Dave spanked the lead vocals summarily with the always excellent support of Shira and Sammi, those amazing divas with the divine vocal cords.  Quite the fun ride this song, quite fun indeed.  Another favorite to add to that already overflowing bag.  We got a lovely treat next up as Joey Porter from the Motet joined in on keys — one of my favorite things about live performances:  guesting in.  “Gremlins” from their Zerbert album was in the queue and Joey was ready to tear it up alongside the band.  Which they all then proceeded to do.  And in crazy good fashion, too, why not?  They certainly looked as if they enjoyed the hell out of having their friend join them on the stage to help rip the fabric of the night wide open with note after delectable note.  Pure magnificence.  Bravi!  And thank you so much, Joey!!  A little later down the set came yet another new one to me, a groovy, mellower piece with a vibrant chill energy…sadly the name escaped me, but it was lovely with a trippy sort of esoteric feeling all juxtaposed to some really sweet vocals from both Dave and the ladies.  This was followed by “Electric Habitat” from their Future 86 album which they went directly into.  More of that perfect textural combination here:  the balance between all instruments and vocals in this band is clearly very well strategized and no doubt well executed.  This makes for a singularly marvelous musical experience at the hands of some seriously adept individuals.  Craig nailed a really fine guitar solo for us a ways into the song showcasing his own skill on the instrument.  The more I saw this band at work, the more utmost respect I gained for them as musicians.  Later on down the set we got the hard driving “Let It Ride” which continued the whirlwind craziness of the evening for us all in a highly palatable and enjoyable manner.  Dave Brandwein dominated the lead vocals with some incredible harmony opportunities with Garrett and Elias.  A super large sound to this one, another perfect opportunity to point out the very measured and successful strategies employed by Turkuaz to an extremely fine degree in terms of ensemble excellence.  A big and nasty good guitar solo from Craig was a definite feature of this one.   All the while supported by that magical musical artillery emplacement of a horn section blasting away in onslaught after onslaught of chords and notes and other assorted awesomesauceness.  Hells yeah!!  What a show!  Josh’s deep and commanding bari sax led things into the next song for us, a Shira-led jazzy number, with more of that intense mellow groove that this band can also deliver to an expert degree.  This was proving to be an educational show for me in terms of Turkuaz repertoire with which I was unfamiliar.  Trust me, I’ll make sure to do a bit o’ learnin’ up before my next show.    Which I hope is soon.  Their final selection of the night was a new one to me as well…what a great show for new material on a personal level!  Sammi Garrett took lead vocals for this last one, which was quite the soulful and upbeat number.  Always good to end things on a positive note, pun very much intended.  And that’s exactly what they did, finishing up a show so heavy on the goods we all crave so much in our musical souls with brightly burnished ecstatic electric feels for everyone.  I couldn’t have been happier after this one and after this two night run with Brooklyn’s best.  But they weren’t done there now were they?  Of course not…there is the subject of the encore to speak of.  But, why speak when we can share with you the precise magic of that moment when Josh stepped up to the mic and gave us this little gem by Joe Cocker: 

“Feelin’ Alright” now my friends?  I sincerely hope so after that phenomenal finish to a giant show.  So very many thanks to all of Turkuaz and their support folks for coming to Colorado in the first place and for helping shake the very mountains of the Front Range with such musical deliciousness!  Again, I say unto you, if you have not seen nor heard this band yet, correct this with the utmost haste!  I beseech you!  So much good will come of it, this you will see.  Thank you for sharing some of your time with me and with Turkuaz.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I.  Interested in more?  Then…

Sammi Garrett and Shira Elias

Sammi Garrett and Shira Elias

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