“It started when we were looking for some kind of cohesive wardrobe to have, but each member really has their own vibe, their own personality, their own musical identity that they bring to the table,” says Dave Brandwein, singer, rhythm guitarist, and cofounder of the Brooklyn band. “And with so many people onstage, it evolved over time as a way to really help distinguish each member for what they are, to show that we’re comprised of individual musicians. We are a band in the true sense of the word: No one is a hired gun in any way, and everybody really brings their individuality and flavor to this band.”
The effect is visually arresting. It also can come off as slightly gimmicky. But as soon as Turkuaz begins to play, those thoughts disappear. This band — which is set to take the stage Saturday, April 27, at the North Beach Bandshell in support of its fifth studio album, Life in the City — is the real deal.
Turkuaz, which is Turkish for “turquoise,” is a horn-driven power-funk band that blends R&B, soul, jazz, alternative, and psychedelic rock and basically turns every show into a delirious dance party. You’ll hear elements of Prince, Parliament/Funkadelic, Chicago, Cameo, Stevie Wonder, and even Bob Marley in the group’s infectious, original songs.
“It’s mostly just spreading joy,” Brandwein says. “We make people really happy, and I don’t say that from a place of ego; I say it from experience and people telling us this, and just an outpouring of appreciation. That’s why we do this — we’re honored that we can hold that place in people’s lives. Our shows are high energy and they’re fun, and that does a lot for people. I think it gives people a release in their lives, and in turn it gives us a release too.”
Turkuaz sought out Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads to help produce some of the band’s latest songs, including “If I Ever Fall Asleep” and “On the Run.”
“We chose Jerry because the Talking Heads were an enormous influence on us,” Brandwein says. “The film Stop Making Sense very specifically was kind of the reason we started this band: the interactive ensemble nature of the performances in that film, the fun that’s being had onstage, the visual element to it. Fun and energy mixed with a truly artistic, creative approach — that’s what we strive for at all times. And to be able to work with somebody who has influenced you so directly is a very unique experience.”
Because Turkuaz plays most of the major music festivals — Bonnaroo, Summer Camp Music Festival, Red Rocks — it's sometimes labeled a jam band, a term Brandwein has grown to tolerate.
“Yeah, we do get lumped in with that because a lot of bands we appear on bills with and play shows with and even collaborate with definitely fall into that category,” he says. “I’ve gone through my own evolution with it. With nine musicians, we have such a wide set of influences that to deny some aspect of that influencing our music would be dishonest. I think it’s definitely in there, and it’s an important part of what we do: It doesn’t sum up who we are, but it’s one of the many flavors that we incorporate into our gumbo of music.”
Turkuaz. With Afrobeta. 7 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $22 via rhythmfoundation.com.