Turkuaz & The Nth Power 5.6.16

Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

As we traipsed into the Fox, the Nth Power's Nikki Glaspie was already thumping her drum kit with such explosive power she had her own fallout. Part John Bonham, part Clyde Stubblefield, all woman, her work kept me engaged in their set throughout. Beyond the rhythmic queen, the band swayed between groovy, soul-drenched, vintage funk and overly ambitious, borderline self indulgent playing. To be fair, every time I started thinking that they were trying too hard, they'd snap into some laid-back hook and I'd forget why I was being critical in the first place. While, I thought times were a bit overboard, it takes chops to be able to go overboard, and they had them. Nick Cassarino's guitar playing was mostly clean, and when they laid in the pocket he was really at his best.

Turkuaz took the stage in a rainbow of outfits, each assigned a color, and rocking it from head to toe. The look added reinforcement to a sound that was as colorful as it was exhilarating. Resting on the shoulder's of Michelangelo Curraba's atomic drums and the devastatingly funky bass lines of Taylor Shell, everything they did was deeper in the cut than an infection. The nine piece was one of the tightest, rhythmically driven musical endeavors I've ever seen. The songwriting was polished, dynamic, soulful, and succinct.

Vocally, guitarist Dave Brandwein commanded the assault with the backing of a beautiful pair of female voices, Sammi Garet and Shira Elias. The vocal surprise of the night came from Bari sax player, Josh Schwartz, who hit a few high notes that left me stunned. With a bulletproof rhythm section and dynamite vocalists, it was no wonder the rest of their arsenal was comparably equipped to deliver knockout punch after knockout punch. Greg Sanderson, clad in more red than Little Red Riding Hood, stepped into the spotlight for one of the evening's first solos, and set the bar for a knee-buckling foray into the world of "the one." From there, trumpeter/ keyboardist, Chris Brouwers switched roles faster than Tyler Perry in a "Madea" movie, sometimes simultaneously synthing things up while hitting the horn accents. "La Flama Blanca," wearing white, Craig Brodhead slaughtered riff after riff in a psychedelic onslaught of groovy leads and well-timed hooks. His keyboard served to accessorize his guitar and give him some input on the less guitar-driven arrangements.

The collective reminded me of some sort of Quantum Leap band, stuck traveling through time, playing shows in the present that reflect the history and future of funk music. The timbre of their instrumentation was remarkably crisp, thick, balanced, and sonic. They all served the music over their egos. They were all phenomenal role players who appear to be gracious, kind folks.

This show was an absolute blast. I danced like it was my job along with a few hundred other people who were also getting busy "working." The joy spilled out onto the sidewalk as we chattered excitedly about funk's newfound future. I rode a natural and euphoric high on my journey back home, on a headwind of funky residuals and rhythmic elation.

Every once in a while you see a band for the first time, and you KNOW it won't be the last. Friday night, I left Boulder knowing I'd be back for more.

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