The Motet brings the funk to Keystone | SummitDaily.com

The Motet brings the funk to Keystone

The Motet is known for their annual Halloween show. Year after year, the Colorado band dons costumes and focuses on a particular artist, usually from the '70s era — Stevie Wonder, Prince — and brings a funky dance party to Front Range venues. A few years ago, the group decided to mix up the Mixtape — what they call their annual Halloween show — and instead focus on a year rather than an artist, giving them a wider song base to choose from.

It may not be Halloween, but rest assured that The Motet will be bringing their own funky originals to Warren Station with a two-night run on Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 17.

SEASON OF CHANGE

Things have changed for The Motet since the beginning of the year. The lead singer, Jans Ingber, recently decided to leave the band and played his last show on Jan. 1 in New York City. In a letter to fans, Ingber speaks fondly of his "brothers" in The Motet and cites personal desires as his reasons for leaving. "The plain truth is that my desire for a balanced life of creating music and being a father, a husband, an outdoorsman, and a conduit of positive change in my community, has outweighed my desire to be a full-time touring musician in an ascending band," he writes on The Motet website.

In light of this change, the band has decided to bring in guest vocalists to start off their 2016 tour season.

"For our Halloween shows, we've always had three vocalists, which is a sound we love," said Dave Watts, drummer and founding member of The Motet. "It's not always that easy to bring that many people on the road — a bigger band is a lot more wieldy as far as trying to organize and make musical decisions, but the sound, when it comes together, is incredible, so we figured, let's have some of these vocalists that we've had over the years for Halloween come up and join us for the shows in the interim as we find our permanent guy."

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While Watts said they are sad to see him go, it's not the first time the band has gone through a change in members. Created in 1997, the early years of The Motet featured a revolving cast of musicians, with Watts estimating around 30 different musicians in the band over the years.

"He was a great creative part of the group, so that will never be replaced," he said. "You've got his sound and his vibe and his ideas and it's going to have a legacy in our music for sure. But that being said, we've been no strangers to change. … I started in '97, so we've been through a lot of different lineup changes, and musical changes and stylistic changes, so it's really par for the course. I embrace it rather than sort of fear the consequences, because it's just another opportunity to be more creative and to try new ideas and to have a different sound and a different person's energy come into a group, which is always refreshing."

Although the band has seen members come and go, Watts, along with Joey Porter (keys), Garrett Sayers (bass) and Ryan Jalbert (guitar) have played together for more than a decade.

"Earlier in our inception, when we were just a Colorado band, we would mix it up quite a bit from month to month even," Watts said. "But now the band members — back then it was more my project — now it's the band members that are really putting themselves into the music, writing music. It's all really becoming more and more our sound, so everyone's really invested in it. So these kinds of changes are certainly happening less and less, and I think our sound has become more distinguishable and stronger because of it."

Rounding out the group is a horn section with Matt Pitts on the saxophone and Gabriel Mervine on the trumpet.

PROUD TO CALL COLORADO HOME

The Motet has certainly made a name for themselves over the years, selling out shows all over Colorado and touring around the country and on the festival circuit. They've played New Orleans during Jazz Fest, hopped on Jam Cruise multiple times, and have been on too many summer festival lineups to count. The Motet is a staple in the Colorado jam scene — and their popularity is proven with their summer show headlining Red Rocks this July.

"We are proud to be playing Red Rocks — it's like our hometown venue," Watts said. "It's crazy to say that — or home state venue — but the fact that that venue is 30 minutes from our house is just crazy. The fact that we can go there and this year be headlining our own show is just mind-blowing. I can recall when my first band out of Boston toured Colorado back in 1991 — we came out and I went to Red Rocks during the day, just walking around on those rocks, imaging playing there some day. … It's kind of like we want to represent Colorado by playing there and blowing it up and having people all over the country be jealous."

Not only are they headlining Red Rocks, but they will also share the stage that night with Medeski, Martin and Wood, a jazz funk band that's been on the scene for decades.

"I'm pinching myself because that lineup that we've got going on is a dream come true," Watts said. "I've been listening to Medski, Martin and Wood since the mid-'90s. They are absolute heroes of all of ours, so what an honor to have them play with us at such an incredible venue."

The group is currently working on a new album — which will be their eighth — which was recorded in New Orleans last fall. It's the first time the band has brought in a producer, working with Eric Krasno, guitar player with Lettuce.

"He actually brought a couple of songs to the table that we are putting on the record as well, he's a great songwriter," Watts said. "It's been a really great experience working with him."

Before releasing it, the band hopes to get whoever ends up taking Ingber's place on the album, although Watts said he hopes to see it out before the Red Rocks show. They will be revealing tracks prior to the album release.

As The Motet looks for a new lead vocalist, Watts said the process of finding someone to fill that role has been a great journey.

"As we do these tours with different vocalists, it's going to start to gel with who we want to have in the group, and things will all start to fall into place," he said. "Make it more organic rather than like, let's hold auditions and hope this guy that's really great isn't too nervous to perform in front of us. We're not 'The Voice,' this isn't some kind of competition, we've never held auditions, it's like the most awkward thing ever. We want it to kind of fall in place. … I think it's kind of cool for our audience to be able to come to shows and see this whole thing unfolding in front of them, and organically start to come together and I have full confidence that we are going to find who's right for us — that that person's out there and excited to be as creative and in the moment as we are, as we have been over the years, and it's just going to be part of the natural progression of the band."

IF YOU GO

What: The Motet

When: Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 17

Where: Warren Station, 156 Ida Belle Drive, Keystone

Tickets: $22 in advance, $25 at the door; all ages. For more information, please contact (970) 423-8992 or visit warrenstation.com/event/the-motet/