story by Anna VanHorn, special to The City Wire
Fayetteville-based Groovement is returning to Webby D’s in Fort Smith on Saturday (May 5). The six piece high-energy funk-rock band draws on myriad of influences, making music that appeals to a wide range of audiences.
Recently nominated for Funk/Jamband of the year at the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards (also known as the NAMAs), Groovement’s sound is reminiscent of the Motown, ‘70s funk and jamband genres. Concertgoers would be hard pressed to watch a show without bobbing their heads or shaking their hips.
“We’re trying to throw a party, and we’re trying to make you forget about your working life for a while,” said Trey Burkett, the band’s guitarist.
“Just have a good time,” he advises. “We are throwing a party and you are a VIP guest.”
With individual but overlapping musical inspirations, the band members’ own diverse musical backgrounds are the driving force behind Groovement’s sound. Songwriting is a collaborative effort, usually beginning with a simple idea brought to rehearsal and then built upon as a unit. They cite James Brown, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, Parliament Funkadelic, JJ Grey and Mofro, Galatic and Robert Randolph among their influences.
Groovement’s debut CD, Positive Step — released in August of 2011 and nabbing an Album of the Year NAMA nomination this year — employs optimistic lyrics complete with humor and plenty of sass. The vocals are soulful, the instrumentation is beautiful, and the end result is funky, danceable and undeniably fun. Interest in the album has reached beyond the states and into South America, Haiti and Germany.
“We’re not playing there just yet, but I’m glad they like it.” Burkett said with a laugh.
Drummer Bryan Burkhart has some trouble remembering whether this is the band’s fifth or sixth appearance at Webby D’s, but he has no problem recalling the band’s affection for the venue. The
“Last time we were at Webby’s, there were people we didn’t know, on the front row, dancing and singing all the words to our original tunes.” Burkhart says. “That’s always a cool experience.”
Many bands, especially in the funk/pop genres, rely heavily on technology to achieve their sound. Groovement is able to use technology to its advantage, but in a minimal way that doesn’t rely on “knob turning” to make it come out the way it wants.
Especially during live shows, every note comes from an instrument being played by a member of the band on the spot, rather than using overdubs and/or pre-recorded tracks. It’s an organic sound that is both current and retro, without sounding like a throwback to their musical predecessors.
The band is in the beginning stages of making its second album, writing new material and workshoping a few new songs. A full summer of live shows are planned, including several festivals.