05 May 2016 - The Bluebird Theater - Denver, 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
Nothing like a Cinco de Mayo show to get your blood moving in all the desired ways. What a cool, crisp evening it was down at The Bluebird in Denver as the sun was setting below a deepening purple-blue sky. And what had us down in the big city that night in Colorado? Why an evening spent with the one, the only Turkuaz, Brooklyn’s own power funk ensemble, of course! And if you are not familiar with Turkuaz or have never seen them live before, I highly recommend doing both as soon as humanly possible. An extremely smart band with roots in Boston’s Berklee College of Music, they are as marvelously talented as they are driven and polished. Stopping through Colorado on a pretty aggressively scheduled tour, we had the honor of sitting down with them to pick their brains during an interview (more on that to come, my friends) just before the show. A very fun and informative time to be sure. Certainly put us in an extremely good mood for the set coming up after The Nth Power opened for them. Such soulful music, The Nth Power, and such intensity. It was as if the rawer side of New Orleans opened up and gave us a power quartet. Lots of good energy preparing the crowd for Turkuaz to follow. And follow they did, believe you me!! Let’s get to it, shall we?
The band took the stage in their familiar monochromatic outfits looking the very picture of their tour posters. This is to say they looked fabulous, right? You damn right. Not a single note played and they already had the crowd in rapt attention. Not bad. Not bad at all. Dave Brandwein greeted the audience with a huge smile and then, with Michelangelo Carubba’s drum sticks marking intro time, they were off into a speedy and upbeat “Coast to Coast”. Immediately we were all immersed into that unique and powerful energy that is Turkuaz. From the well-known feeling of Sammi, Shira, and Dave all sharing the vocals in a song to those wonderful horns from Chris, Greg, and Josh, we were all off on a musical adventure together, the likes of which only Turkuaz can provide. And those vocal harmonies, too! To those of you who know me and my musical predilections, you know I am sucker for awesome vocal harmony. And what an entire evening of just such an incredible thing! But I am getting ahead of myself because Greg’s white hot sax solo is definitely of very worthy mention here. Melted quite a few faces as I recall. Suffice it to say, all these invariably talented and skilled individuals know their way around their chosen instruments, horns to keys to guitar to voice and everything else on that stage each night. Off to an incredible start, I’d say. Next in line for us was a rousing and rollicking “Chatte Lunatique”, a song that I do like very much. Pretty cool to hear Dave crooning to us in French, right? Which is exactly what he did right along with this groovy-as-hell number. Some of Turkuaz’s pieces have some fantastic amounts of the right kind of attitude — this is one of those songs. I wish you could have been there to hear it, my friends. Shira and Sammi sounded just magnificent throughout. They were both in extremely fine voice the entire show. Just lovely. And that guitar solo from Craig? Down right nasty good. “Future 86” was a strong follow-up to “Chatte” and they nailed it, of course. Veritably dripping with groove and searing intensity, this was the perfect kind of ass-kicker to keep the evening speeding mightily along. More awesome guitar work care of Mr. Brodhead in this one as well — that man sincerely knows that instrument inside and out. “Seventeen times I told you…” great lyrics applicable to many things but I’ll apply them here simply by saying seventeen times over: get thee to see some Turkuaz!! Trust me…you’ll be so happy you did. After “Future” we were treated to “Nightswimming”, a favorite selection from their new album, Digitonium. Sounding almost recording-perfect, this one was a bit of an indulgence for those familiar with the song. I cannot express just how good this band sounds in concert and this show was no exception whatsoever. Oh, and let’s just add how good their new album is to the mix while where at it. Simply put: go download it immediately. Hit play. Smile. Repeatedly. It’s that easy, my friends. Josh gave us some super fine bari sax love at one point — talk about an anchoring instrument! Love it. All the while with Mike on the drums like a metronomic demigod. The ensemble sound here is just like no other. A modern “big band” to be sure. And funked all to electricity and back. Simmering. And they just kept…on…going. Whiz-bang, pow, wham, and wowsers!! “Snap Your Fingers” came on like a welcome freight train with a superbly strong amount of up energy and with Shira killing the lead vocals, just killing them. Chris’s trumpet stood out like a clarion call all song long especially after Dave’s guitar solo when Mr. Brouwers went into quite the horn solo of his own much to the appreciation of the crowd. Yet again, another member of the band so adept and skilled at his instrument. Really does make for a truly enjoyable audience experience. And now you’re in luck my friends at home there, for we have a bit of the show for your very viewing enjoyment!! Please take a look at “The Mountain” by Turkuaz. Hope you dig it as much as we did!!
Now that's just going to wow a person. And that’s just a video! But now imagine that all live, in your grinning face, washing over you like a tsunami of musical positivity and force of funk. Sounds pretty great, right? Well the next song was certainly that, in spades. The band played another selection from their new album, this time “Murderface”. Dave sang the lead on this one and sounded mighty fine if I do say so myself. Taken at a fast clip, this one is yet another favorite from Digitonium. Was really happy to get this one. More great trumpet from Chris here as well and then from all the horns as the song developed. Another example of the strong ensemble sound from this nine-member band. Craig and Chris shared some really nice moments of back-and-forth keyboards between the two making for a pretty trippy section of the song. Craig then delivered a couple of superb guitar solos helping to really expand this one and jam it out so much more in the live setting versus the album version. Pretty damn hot stuff. “The laughter, the screaming.” Quite so, quite so, my friends. Josh stepped up to the mic for the next one, taking lead vocals on “Babies Making Babies”. And, I really need to stress this seriously here. This. Cat. Can. Wail! And I mean it. He is possessed of a supremely powerful voice with one helluva range. So impressive and so great to get to hear. Grateful, too. So freakin’ soulful. Speaking of soul, Greg threw down some serious sax soul in his solo as well…just so freakin’ soulful. Hot damn is this band good!! This was a new song to me and one I will always love from hear on out. Thanks, Josh! Thanks, Greg! Thanks, Turkuaz! Next up was some more Digitonium for us in the form of “Percy Thrills, The Moondog”. Fun energy through and through, this one certainly did not disappoint at The Bluebird. Some songs are just fun, right? This is one of such songs. Especially with more exquisite solo work from Greg. Dave was spot on with the lead vocals, of course. As he was with all his songs throughout the night. I do appreciate a band that can sing. And a man that can play the drums like Mike Carubba! What a beast…that man is a machine!! And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the showmanship that this band throws down. The choreography is pretty amazing — I really don’t know how they remember it all. It certainly makes for a lovely show to watch to be sure. They followed “Percy Thrills” with the seductive tones of “Tiptoe Through the Crypto”, a slightly mellower but no less awesome attitude-laden song from their EP Stereochrome. Sammi took lead vocals on this one and wowed every ear in the house with her sweet soulful song. Just incredible. Again, I really cannot tell you in mere words how amazing each of these uber-talented folks truly is. What a performance. This was followed by “Bubba Slide”, the very first Turkuaz song I ever heard. This is a great time of an album track and no less enjoyable whatsoever live. Great horns from the section in constant support of this funky, funky track. Just love that phatty bass line from Taylor Shell, too. So damn good. And you should just hear him sing “the hits”. But you might have to ask the band about that. Big spacey jam in the middle of “Bubba” — pretty trippy and filled to the brim with horn goodies, tasty drum licks, wild guitar riffs, and always that big, badass bass line from Taylor. One helluva great live version of this one! Bravi! We were certainly getting spoiled that night and the next song was no exception — another track from Digitonium. Gee, this really was the Digitonium tour, huh? “The Generator” started up with an electric thrum just like on the album and then took off like the dynamo it is. For a song about a generator this one sure generates enough of its own energy and power to satisfy any audience or musical palate. Fun, fun, fun from start to finish. Man, what a show! And, sure enough, they kept the Digitonium love rolling with “Digital Love” and a great synth-keys lead in from Craig. Then the ladies took over with lead vocals trading off with Dave in one of my favorite interplays in any of their songs. Still couldn’t believe how much of the new album they’d given us that night. We at The Lot Scene would like to think they did it for us in light of our interview with them prior to the show. Sounds great, right? Exactly. And then they treated us to a spankingly awesome cover of The Band’s “Don’t Do It” a perfect selection for them in my opinion. Sammi and Shira shared a powerful duet all song long trading off the solo sections. Holy crap! I needed to sit down after that one. So very good! Just so very good… What a set, what show, and it wasn’t over yet. Their last selection of the night was “Lookin’ Tough, Feelin’ Good” which we also captured for you on video. Please enjoy:
Pretty incredible stuff, no? Truly it was, my friends. Truly it was. After a quick exit from the stage they came out and gave us a big, bold “Monkey Fingers” encore. A powerhouse way to wrap things up for the night for all of us gathered there. Josh’s bari sax solo was a spiritual awakening in this one — so deft with that instrument. Get down with your bad self, good sir! Pretty hot solos from Chris and Craig worthy of mentioning here, too. It is pretty impressive watching Mr. Brouwers play keys and trumpet simultaneously. As in crazy impressive. Which is precisely what this show was. Holy goodness!! I’m not sure I can think of enough positive, nice, or praiseworthy things to say about this show or this band. But, if you are reading this and don’t know Turkuaz or their music, I beseech you again: please download an album of theirs immediately!! I cannot stress enough how happy this move will make you. And then you can start coming to shows like this one and have your face melted off along with the rest of us. Joyfully so, I might add. Your face melted off joyfully. But of course!! So many thanks to Turkuaz for the unparalleled night of music and frivolity. Made me that much more excited to be seeing them the next night, too, but you’ll have to wait for that one…