Finding its Groove: Local band to get funky at Firehouse tonight

Playing an instrument in school for many students typically does not go beyond just that.

But for a number of students, those years playing in the jazz band or marching band has led to more opportunities.

And in the next month or so, opportunities are exactly what the members of Brotha’ Groove will have to promote and gain exposure for their funk band.

The first opportunity will be at 7 p.m. tonight at the Old Firehouse (OFH) Teen Center in Redmond as the band will celebrate its “funkiversary.” The show will also mark the release of Brotha’ Groove’s new single, “1-800-FUNKIFY.”

“It’s pretty exciting,” said trumpet player Igor Rudenko.

OFH was where the band recorded its first funk tune and vocalist Elijah Reagan said going back to the venue is “going back to some of (their) best moments as a band.” He also expressed their appreciation for the staff and mentors they have worked with at OFH since they started.

The rest of the band includes vocalists Olivia Heale and Ryan Singh; Daniel Oliver, Nick Nerguizian, Wyatt Gardner and Chris Ron in the rhythm section and Sean Hakala, Ben Formantes, Adam Chmaj and Drew Butler in the horn section.

Band members are primarily from Redmond or other parts of the Eastside including Kirkland, Sammamish and Woodinville and either in high school or recently graduated.

Oliver, who plays keyboards for the group, credits school and district music programs, which is how most of them got their starts and met. He personally noted the influences of Andy Robertson and Eric Peterson at Redmond High School and Evergreen Middle School, respectively. Oliver added that this is why it is important to keep arts programs in schools going.

While most of the band members’ background is in jazz, they soon turned to funk shortly after forming. The band’s first show was in December 2015 at SoulFood CoffeeHouse in Redmond.

Reagan said following that show, they had an “explosion of writing.” Their first album is called “Unforced Mechanical Vibrations” and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.

Next month, Brotha’ Groove will be going up against 11 other young up-and-coming musical acts from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada in Sound Off!, the Musuem of Pop Culture’s (MoPOP) — formerly the Experience Music Project — 21-and-under battle of the bands competition. The band will be part of the third round of semifinalists and its performance is scheduled for Feb. 24.

All members will be participating in the competition except for Rudenko, who is 24.

Bassist Nerguizian also noted the significance of their being selected for the competition out of more than 100 entries into the competition.

“A funk band was selected,” he said as he and his bandmates acknowledged that funk musicians tend to be older.

As a result of the exposure from Sound Off!, artists have gone on to book performances at high-profile venues such as Bumbershoot, Sasquatch! Music Festival and the Capitol Hill Block Party.

Following Sound Off! Brotha Groove plans to record another album.

Since its formation, Brotha’ Groove has performed at events such as Redmond Derby Days and the Rockin’ by the River Outdoor Concerts, Hempfest and Taste of Edmonds.

Oliver said some of the band’s influences include George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic as well as Bootsy Collins and Earth Wind &Fire.

He said the members of Brotha’ Groove all have the same idea for their sound and wanting to discuss social issues in their songs like their musical influences.