The Full Story - Interview with Brian Keating (bass, music director)
Why are the songs of Motown and Stax records important to you?
There’s something about these songs that capture a feeling of the human spirit.
Whenever I talk with someone about the classic Motown songs – songs by the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Isley Brothers – I notice people’s faces light up with joy. I’ll hear memories about listening to this music while riding in their parent’s car, cleaning the house with siblings, or being at the roller rink. With younger listeners it might be remembering a special playlist made by friends for a dance party or passing the time during a long road trip.
The same is true for the Stax records songs – artists like Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers – the mention of these artists captures a place or moment in time for people. Just talking about the memories of these songs creates a really beautiful way to connect over the impact of music.
For us, it’s about feeling good in the moment of a song – for the 3 minutes that one is listening, your whole mindset changes – your body relaxes and you can forget about whatever weight you might have been carrying in your mind.
How did this project get started and what is the intent of spreading your love for this music?
It started at the Roots Music Project in Boulder, CO (a local non-profit musical incubator supporting new musicians). A bunch of the musicians and families were in a covid-pod together and we were getting to play a lot of music during the downtime of the pandemic (late 2020).
It had always been a passion of mine to try and recreate these songs as best as possible and then offer that to the community. I hesitantly mentioned it to the guys at Roots – Jon Oren (drums, vocals) and Dave Kennedy (guitar) – and I thought they were going to think I was nuts and wouldn’t be interested. But to my surprise and excitement they were enthusiastically on board. They were super encouranging and loved the idea; this project would absolutely not be here without them and the continued support of Roots Music Project.
The more we really dug into these songs we realized that we needed other players to flesh out the magic that’s behind these hits. Since the start of the band we’ve had the honor to play with so many talented and dedicated musicians in the Boulder/Denver area: horns (Mike Tupper, Steve Illich, Rich Gray, Gavin Worland), keys (Caton Sollenberger, Andras Csapo), and vocalists (Hazel Miller, Kimyana Lee, Dzirae Gold, Casey Harding-Brown, Jon Oren).
The post-covid live music landscape is so important right now – people want to be out singing, dancing, and having fun with each other – and I really feel that this is what the music is about – bringing people together and making memories out of the simple pleasures of having a good time wherever you are. This music is so much fun to play; it’s too hard not to want to share it with others.
What can listeners expect when they see the band live?
We only play songs by the artists of the Motown and Stax Records labels – Detroit to Memphis soul – we have a 2 hour set list with female and male vocalists and horn section.
We stay true to the classic instruments, arrangments, and vibe of the songs but we also veer off into something that might be – dare I say – more high energy or congruent with a band playing in this era. Almost as if we were in an alternate universe where this music never happened and is just now being discovered and played live.
Our ultimate goal is that for people who were there in the 60’s, it will sound like how they remember it, while also being new, appealing and fresh for listeners of this generation.
Our live performances are a true family friendly event. The goal is that everyone from grandparents to teenagers will get something from the live show – you can sing, dance, or watch – and leave knowing in your body and heart that it was a good time.
And thankfully that has been the case so far. These songs bring an undeniable feel good vibe – we just help recreate that in real time in 2022.