By Michaela Abbott, Contributing Writer
On March 23, The Haunt hosted the nine-piece, “powerfunk” band called Turkuaz. Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Turkuaz is as unique as the city’s inhabitants. After following this band through their evolution over the past three years, I can say that one thing is consistent — Turkuaz attracts a wide variety of like-minded individuals with their pop and pizazz. As hard as it was for me to pry my eyes off the stage, I took a minute to observe the crowd and noticed a herd of non-stop, free-flowing dancing. If a band makes a whole crowd bump and grind immediately and involuntarily, you know you’ve found something special.
But this isn’t the only thing that makes Turkuaz unique. Just take a quick look at the band, before even hearing their sound, and you’ll see their originality. Dressed head-to-toe in solid colors, Turkuaz takes a more innocent and funky interpretation of the movie Reservoir Dogs. They’ve got Mr. Blue – frontman Dave Brandwein, Mr. Orange – bassist Taylor Shell, Mr. White – guitarist and keyboardist Craig Brodhead, Mr. Green – drummer Michelangelo Carubba, Mr. Black – trumpetist and keyboardist Chris Brouwers, Mr. Red – tenor saxophonist Greg Sanderson, Mr. Purple – baritone saxophonist Josh Schwartz, Ms. Pink – vocalist Sammi Garett, and finally Ms. Yellow – vocalist Shira Elias.
The Ithaca show opened with “Gremlins” off their 2011 album Zerbert, followed by Brandwein’s classic introduction. “We’re Turkuaz,” he says in a beat before the music. Along with a line of thanks to the audience for attending, this is how their shows are typically introduced — simple, honestly and understated. Music comes first for this band, transcending the member’s egos. Although their colors act as necessary identifiers in a large-numbered band, never once do you see them put their individual identities over their sound.
For Turkuaz, the past few years have been instrumental to success. After landing Elias, the band completed their nine-piece group and began to form their image. When asked what they attribute their success to, the band responded in a burst of similar comments about commitment.
“Being relentless and dedication to a singular goal,” Carubba said. “People have this idea of ‘blowing up’ as this thing that just happens or doesn’t happen,” Brandwein said, “But a lot of it is steady, gradual work.”
Their devotion to funk music, their own and others, is apparent not just at the Ithaca show. Turkuaz tours relentlessly across the country and has been for years, playing not only their own sets but jumping in with other bands as well. I have watched their name grow in font size each time they climb up the ladder of music festivals lineups. I swear, they are playing in nearly every festival posted for the upcoming season — Disc Jam, Summer Camp Festival, Camp Bisco, Bonnaroo, Friendly Gathering and the list goes on.
Their schedule is so packed with nightly shows, the band hardly even has time to practice, which might come as a shock to those who are in awe of their uniformity and tightness. Their time is spent writing and producing new content, as well as tailoring each show to their venue. For example, Brandwein keeps track of each set list ever made to make sure no two shows are the same. This is the icing on top of a funkalicious cake.
When asked what their favorite song to play is, the band responded with a unanimous “anything new,” which highlights their constant desire and devotion to mastering the craft of funk music. While they tend to stay on the festival grind, I see a big future for this big band based on their skill and determination.