If you're looking for something a little more funky, I have a band for you too - the upcoming princes of soul funk, Con Brio.
The largest act I've featured so far, Con Brio is made up of seven hard working, passionate musicians from San Francisco who have been making music together since 2013. Ziek McCarter is the zany, energetic frontman; Brendan Liu and Marcus Stephens create the famous funk vibe on their trumpet and tenor sax, respectively; Benjamin Andrews rocks the guitar; Patrick Glynn flies on the keyboards; Jonathan Kirchner bangs out the bass line; and Andrew Laubacher keeps them all in time on the drums. This funk act rocked as an opening act for funk giants Galactic when I saw them in February of 2016 (and got a picture with the frontman!). Their career also got a boost after playing a set for Austin City Limits in 2015 and touring extensively in support of their debut EP through the entire year.
"Con brio" means "with spirit" in Italian, and this outfit has earned that title completely. Con Brio's 3-year career has been a whirlwind, despite only having released their debut EP, "Kiss The Sun" in February of 2015, and their debut full-length album "Paradise" in July of 2016. In the world of funk music, it proves difficult to find a way through the ranks with all the legends of the genre; however, Con Brio has infiltrated the scene and made a name for themselves while making it look effortless. Their superpower lies in frontman Ziek McCarter's acrobatic energy on stage and behind the mic, performing splits and backflips as easily as belting out meaningful, uplifting lyrics that seem to pour straight from his soul. Talented horns are the centerpiece of any successful funk outfit, and Con Brio is no exception, having a horn section as strong as McCarter's voice. Their songs promote positivity, motivation and joy in perfect conjunction with their upbeat, poppy funk melodies. They aren't afraid to speak up, either - "Free And Brave," from the "Paradise" album, speaks to America's core values as a nation and what we need to do to keep those freedoms we've been given. "Love you neighbor just as you love yourself..." screams the song "Hard Times," a testament to loving one another that the world could really afford to hear. "Money" proves that cash is never necesssary to have fun. Overall, Con Brio provides a positive vibe while keeping the listening casual. If you do listen, though, you won't be sitting down long - you'll be up and dancing in no time.
The Final Word
Although funk isn't exactly what the kids are listening to these days, if you're looking to branch out from the mainstream, start with Con Brio's exciting perspective on funk. Start by listening to "Kiss The Sun" EP and "Paradise" on Con Brio's Spotify ("Paradise" is not yet available on iTunes, although "Kiss The Sun" is available on the iTunes Store), and then, if at all possible, catch them on tour in Europe and North America from December through spring of 2017. You'll be entranced by McCarter's unique and eccentric showmanship paired with the exciting, soulful funk that bares the souls of the passionate musicians that make up this group. Lyrics that speak to the highs and lows of life will keep you jamming into the holiday season. Whether or not funk is your thing, keep an eye on Con Brio - they've got the drive necessary to make sure everyone knows their name.