“Turr-kwaz” is how you say Turkuaz, and you should remember that pronunciation, as this Brooklyn based band isn’t going anywhere. The word as defined is the Turkish translation of turquoise, but unlike the gemstone there is nothing blue about this band. Their style is pure funk, which is deliciously refreshing in the modern landscape of never-ending jambands with musical Attention Deficit Disorder. Don’t mistake this musical singularity for boredom though, as only moss-covered rocks and Nickelback fans could possibly not feel the urge to dance their posteriors off while Turkuaz rages their funktasticness, and Thursday, May 16th at Rochester’s Club at Water Street would be no exception. Blessed with a large crowd, at least partially in part due to the earlier Rusted Root show at the annual Lilac Festival, the band took full advantage of the packed house and played their asses off for two sets.
The first set from Turkuaz featured tons of original material showcasing the band’s deep influences from old school masters such as George Clinton and James Brown to 90’s funk machines like Galactic and Lettuce. Sexy people playing sexy music laden with delicious horn sections: this always works. Some highlights of the first set included exploratory jamming within original compositions with names like “Bubba Slide” and “Electric Habitat” as well as a nicely chosen array of covers including “Slippery People” by the Talking Heads and Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright”. Towards the end of the first set, Dopapod’s Rob Compa joined the band on guitar for the original tune “Physical Challenge” and a cover of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In”. Rob can often be found sitting in or attending Rochester shows when Dopapod is on break and he always brings the heat on his 6 string.
Despite being a weeknight, the venue only seemed to get busier during set-break and the second set featured perhaps the most energetic crowd this writer has EVER seen at Club-side Water Street during the week. The segues were heavy and it almost seemed as if the music never stopped; fine by me! The ladies ruled the roost for much of this set, with top notch vocals by Sammi Garret and Geneva Williams. Really, beyond the excellent music, this band has some of the finest vocals out there, with all four singers laying it down with heaping spoonfuls of soul goodness. Set highlights included all the segues, the twosome of original “Chatte Lunatique” into Hot Chocolate’s “Everyone’s a Winner” and a spot on funky-blast-off version of Led Zeppelin’s “Trampled Under Foot”.
Beyond the music, the crowd, the sit-in and everything else; it was inherently apparent that this band is a group of people who have deep kinship. Throughout the night they were endlessly smiling at each other, putting their arms around each others shoulders and cheering each other on. Any group of fine musicians can put together an excellent itinerary of rage, but when one can sense an internal warmth; a group that is truly acts as one soul; it brings the entire experience over the top.
Check out Turkuaz’s next stop in Upstate NY on June 29th at The Westcott Theater in Syracuse. You will not regret it.
Set 1: Jb intro, 20 dollar bill, Smarter than the speaker>Coast to coast, Bubba slide, Future 86, Electric habitat, Slippery people, Nightswimming, It’s hard>Feelin’ alright, Back to normal, Physical challenge, The shape I’m in
Set 2: Lookin’ tough, Feelin’ good, Chatte lunatique>Everyone’s a winner, M’lady, XYZ, Trampled under foot, Bijou drains, The bird dog>Sledgehammer, Pickin’ up>Hold on, I’m coming
Encore: Space Captain