“Bump City Brass is a mixture of a previous band that we shifted to become a Tower of Power cover group,” said their manager and trombonist Phil Lozano. “When we started the band, that was the intent, at least.”
The new crop of musicians quickly found their footing. “Once we started practicing together, we realized that it was a very good band and that we could play almost any style of music because we could groove together well. The ambition then became to play funk and soul music in the vintage style with all its accoutrements, harmonies, instruments and complexities.”
Performing at Tio Leo’s on July 5, Lozano considers it to be one of the bands top venues. “We’ve been playing there for several years now,” he said. “It’s one of our favorite places to perform because it has a great dancing crowd, they’ve got a decently sized dance floor and plenty of regulars who come out specifically to dance and enjoy the lounge.
“You can tell that people are there to relax and have a good time.” He notes the venue has recently expanded their stage. “Which is great!” he said. “We often have to set up in some tricky configurations to get all 15 of us onstage.”
Funk and soul’s musical heyday was the 1970s, yet it still resonates strongly with audiences. Lozano puts that at least partly down to the interplay between musicians.
“I think audiences are really gravitating toward getting back to the vibrancy and authenticity that marks the music of the ’70s, with a great appreciation for instrumentation and musicianship,” he said. “For us, I always want to make sure the true beauty of the harmonics of the horn shines through in our music. It can’t really be captured and replicated with a synthesizer.”
He also considers that “there’s also nothing like hearing fifteen people on stage, sharing their craft with you as an audience member, the runs of the trumpets and sax players, the groove of the music. It’s very hard not to dance and just release to the music--which is a great way to connect with your community, with yourself and get in touch with the healing powers of music.”
Lozano notes the difficulty in helming such a large group of musicians. From rehearsals to gig transportation, to stage size, there is a lot to consider, but he considers the challenges to be well worth it.
“Frankly, for me, I feel that if we don’t keep going then this sound goes away and it’s too much of a precious resource to lose,” he said. “There’s less and less live music venues to perform at and we have the added challenge of being a fifteen-member band. Nearly all of us have other jobs, play in other bands, have families, etc. It’s often difficult for us all to get together to work on the music,” he said.
“But we’ve been together for as long as we have and are continuing to push forward because we believe in this music and keeping it alive to share with others in a format that’s as close as you can get, at least in San Diego County, to the way funk and soul was played in the ’70s and early ’80s,” Lozano remarked. “It’s more than just music, it’s an experience.”
Bump City Brass: Friday, July 5 at Tio Leo’s, 5302 Napa St.. 8 p.m. 21 and up. $10. www.tioleos.com