Folks checking out Turkuaz this week will find a slightly modified band: front-man, guitarist and co-founder Dave Brandwein has been sidelined with either a tendon or nerve issue that has affected his right hand since the band’s May 2 date at Howlin’ Wolf during New Orleans Jazz Fest. Brandwein— who is seeing a hand specialist tomorrow in Atlanta— was still singing and slinging the guitar, playing chords with his left hand untilyesterday, and the band has made do by adjusting the arrangements to feature more of guitarist / keyboardist Craig Brodhead. The nine-piece Brooklyn “power funk army” normally features three horns, two female vocalists, two male vocalists, two guitars, bass and drums, as well as two keyboardists— the result of double duty from Brodhead and trumpeter Chris Brouwers. Unfortunately, Brandwein will miss tonight's show in Jacksonville and it is uncertain as to whether he will continue to join the band on stage through the weekend’s dates in Atlanta (with New Mastersounds) and at LEAF Fest (Black Mountain, NC). Turkuaz is bringing close friend Eli Winderman (Dopapod keyboardist) in to fill out Turkuaz’s normally very big sound. Bassist and co-founder Taylor Shell commented that “it’s been a strange week— we had a great Jazz Fest run of shows, but Brouwers had to leave for a few days for a funeral and Dave wasn’t able to play guitar with this fluke injury. We have had first-time shows in Tampa, Dunedin and Boca Raton, and— although people seeing us for the first time definitely got the funk handed to them, and will in Jacksonville, for sure, we wanted to do everything possible to make sure folks were getting the best thing we could deliver. Eli is an old friend and a great player, and Dopapod is off the road this week, so we’re flying him in to play Atlanta and LEAF Fest. It’s gonna work great. For people who haven’t seen us, we just want to say we’re still going to kill it and we hope you come back and see the full band, but the next few shows may be a little heavy on covers and old school R&B and Motown. For people who already know Turkuaz, well, this is going to be sort of a special treat. Either way, we didn’t want to cancel the dates and we know Dave wouldn’t want to let anybody down, so we’re going to get funky and have fun up there and make people dance their butts off. That’s how we do it."
Credible bios are supposed to be objective and not full of superlatives and hyperbole, but it’s hard to avoid gushing when the subject is a funk army of multi-instrumentals and singers that is part freight train and part tyrannosaurus rex, who—even on an off night—can blow away a room on the basis of sheer physics alone. That’s one way to describe Turkuaz, but it doesn’t address the music. In this regard, as with any band, influences are everything. One cannot escape them as one seeks to carve out a unique sound for themselves. Still, there are so many benefits to having Sly & The Family Stone, Rick James, Parliament and Bohannon in your record collection. With this as the basis for a recipe, Turkuaz adds healthy doses of jittery, world-pop-power groove—reminiscent of Remain In Light era Talking Heads—and a passion for Motown and R&B, resulting in a refreshing twist on the funk idiom. Turkuaz certainly does have sheer size in their favor, but when broken down into the basic components, each stands out on their own. Founders Dave Brandwein and Taylor Shell had the cream of the crop to choose from at Berklee, but making it happen as a large touring ensemble takes more than chops: it takes the right blend of personalities. When Turkuaz takes the stage, the chemistry is clear. The special combination of elements—singers in sequined dresses, guys in tails (or sometimes all of them in jumpsuits or other complimentary outfits) horns, keys, guitars, amps and drums and smiles all around… well, it’s easy to get caught up in the explosive auditory and visual circus and find oneself dancing. Despite all of the gear and people on stage, it becomes clear that it is not the size that matters here: it is the performance.