Winter has finally fallen here in Syracuse. The air is cold and on the trees hang a soft white blanket. While some prefer to warm up with hot cocoa, the crowd at the Westcott was heating up in the musical arms of the joyous soul band, Turkuaz. When drummer Michelangelo Carubba gave the cue, it was game on. The Westcott immediately began dancing as the notes of the opening song “20 Dollar bill” began to blast out of Chris Brouwer’s trumpet. The Turkuaz ladies, Shira Elias and Sammi Garett sang out, “look at how they come and how they go”. The voice of Turkuaz hosted the smoky vocals of lead guitarist Dave Brandwein paired with the jazzy vocals of the ladies to produce an old school vibe. The sound from the stage gives a sexy millennial twist to the big band era style of playing. This in your face funk is the kind of music you feel from the top of your head down to the tips of your toes. This is the kind of music that makes a person feel alive. There was a glimmer of pride in the eyes of each member as they preformed.
Taylor Shell is a very impressive bass player and a sure sign that the funk is alive. A few points in the night he could be seen standing on the pedestal where the drums were set up, laying down some smooth bass lines. Taylor Shell brings the party. Also, two hands in the air for Craig Brodhead the synth player. He was like a cloud raining down sentences of notes from his synthesizer. The use of the synthesizer added a contemporary aspect to the funk. These musicians have a natural chemistry and stage presence; they were all swinging their hips and all dancing together. Even occasionally throwing in a synchronized dip to the ground as they did in the song “Bubba Slide”. In the midst of the high-fi funk the band did give the lovers and potential lovers in the crowd one slow song. Thursday night was a blast and a non-stop groove party and at the end no one wanted to quit. Turkuaz gives fresh meaning to the saying bigger is better.
A special recognition should be given the band Annie in the Water who opened for Turkuaz. Their sound is really special. It is as though Rusted Root, Dispatch and Zach Deputy had three acoustic babies whose umbilical chords were plugged into speakers. These are the nights live music lovers live for.