Thursday, October 20, 2011

Family Groove Company at People's Saturday

The last time the Family Groove Company was in Des Moines, it was to play a memorial show for their good friend and devoted fan Dax Bell who passed away in a tragic accident. It was in early August and the band headlined the Let H.O.P.E. Fly memorial show at People's. Money raised at the memorial went to Dax's family to help cover expenses he left behind.

"It was a really special event, and we were so glad to be a part of it." Said Janis Wallin, who plays bass in the band.

Now the Family Groove is returning to People's this Saturday night, and this time it should be a happier event. "We’ve added a few new covers to the rotation since our last time around, so perhaps we’ll put some of those out for the occasion," said Janis. Not that it really matters. FGC has built a very loyal following here in Des Moines, and as always the house should be packed.

Photo taken by Norman Sands, used with permission
(Click to enlarge)

Besides Janis, FGC is Jordan Wilkow on keys and vox, Adam Lewis on guitar, and Mattias Blanck on drums. The band is based out of Chicago, but actually got their start in Los Angeles, where they all went to the Musicians Institute together.

"I’m from Pennsylvania, our drummer is from Sweden, and the guitarist and keyboardist are from the North suburbs of Chicago where they went to high school together," Janis told me. "We started playing together while in music school, and after we graduated, we relocated to Chicago to have a more centralized location for touring. We've been a band with the same 4 members for over 10 years!'

The band has a wide variety of influences. At a live performance you are likely to hear a cornucopia of
Steely Dan, Medeski Martin & Wood, The Beatles, Phish, and Herbie Hancock.  They have a crossover sound that combines the harmonic and improvisational elements of jazz, the groove rhythms of funk, and the songwriting elements of pop. In other words, be prepared to hear about anything.

Photograph by AB Photographie
(Click to enlarge)
Like most bands that have been together for a decade, FGC has gone through it's changes. The personel has remained the same but the touring schedule has slowed down quite a bit. For the first five years they were all over the country, from Utah to Vermont to South Carolina and everywhere in between. The past couple years, they’ve honed their radius a bit and pretty much perform weekend shows throughout the Midwest. "It’s nice because we have more time for “real life” stuff in between the shows, as well as more time for rehearsing and writing." Janis said   "It keeps the shows a lot fresher too, since we’re not tired from being on the road for weeks at a time."

That being said, FGC just finished up a fun summer of gigs and festival performances, their favorite being the Summer Camp Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois back in May. It was the 8th consecutive year that they performed there. They also played at Shoe Fest,  a first time festival that was held about an hour west of Chicago. Shoe Fest was a great success, and should be a viable desination for concert goers for years to come.

They've played with many big acts in the jam band circuit including Dark Star Orchestra, Galactic, Umphrey's McGee, and Karl Denson. At festivals, they've played on the same stages as bands like The Black Crowes, moe., Flaming Lips, and Widespread Panic.

Their favorite opening experience however is when they played with Victor Wooten, the world-renowned bassist who made his mark with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Wooten, who also has his own band, is a big fan of FGC and often requests them to be his opener whenever his solo tour runs through the midwest. "Back in 2008, we opened up for his band at the House of Blues in Chicago, Said Janis. "He came out on stage to a packed house right before our set and introduced FGC to the audience, citing us as one of his favorite bands... It was awesome!"

FGC with Victor Wooten. Photo by Zach Swinderman
(click to enlarge)
This Saturday they will be bringing their concert experience to a smaller stage right in the heart of Des Moines. People's is downtown on the corner of 3rd and Court in the Court Avenue District.

"People is a great room for music, with a nice stage and sound, and I think it’s an ideal setup for both the bands and audience." Said Janis. "But what we like most about People’s and Des Moines in general are the people that come out to see us play there. Over the years, we’ve seen the crowds grow and have become such great friends with so many of the fans. It’s become kind of like an extended family."

Doors open at 9:00PM and tickets are just $10.00. Get down to People's on Saturday night and be a part of the family!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

..saw them at Mews maybe a year ago, one of the best shows I've seen or attended there. place was packed, but it was the vibe of the crowd that stayed with me. One of those nights where everyone was sharing the same vibe. - Aaron, Des Moines