After having an incredible time during their set and naming them one of my Best of CMJ 2008, it was necessary that I caught a Turkuaz show again--outside of the CMJ realm. So on Friday night, when the Brooklyn-based funk group was playing the Bowery Poetry Club, I was so front-and-center that my knees bumped the stage when danced. And dance I did, all set long.
My second Turkuaz experience turned out even better than the first, probably because it was Friday night, people were imbibing and the inner funk dancer in everyone was primed to make an appearance. But what struck me most about the band at Friday's show wasn't necessarily what a good time everyone was having. This is a band that truly understands funk. Funk as a form, as a style, as a way of making music. Their original numbers have a creativity in the melodies--and that ever important funk bass line--that makes me love the songs, but also respect the band.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised--most of these kids are from Berklee, but Friday's set gave me a taste of what I felt was the ultimate moment that I knew I'd soon be a staple at Turkuaz gigs. During the set, they did three cover songs: Sly and the Family Stone's "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Ain)", which wasn't such a stretch genre-wise. "Slippery People" by The Talking Heads, which they breathed new, unbelievable life into, and the Rolling Stones classic "Beast of Burden". Each song, but particularly "Slippery People" and "Beast of Burden," belonged to Turkuaz. It wasn't the old here's-a-song-you-know-and-can-sing-to thing. It was, here's this song you know, but here's how we do it around here.
I like the charisma, the attitude, the confidence they bring to the stage and I like the mixture of musical intellect with the true understanding of the dynamic of a crowd, of how to entertain and how to infuse music with those funk principles. I like Turkuaz. And they do have a new album, Dollar Bill, on Galaxy Smith Records, but as far as I'm concerned, they must be seen live.