The New Mastersounds bring the funk to Keystone
IF YOU GO
What: The New Mastersounds
When: Sunday, Feb. 7; Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m.
Where: Warren Station, Keystone Resort
Cost: Tickets are available now warrenstation.com at $22 per person. Prices increase the day of show.
Eddie Roberts was out on the hill last week getting in a few turns when misfortune struck. The guitar player for The New Mastersounds had been traveling up the area to ski about twice a week recently and was making laps with two members of the Summit County band High 5. Roberts hit a post “rather hard” and landed in the operating room on Wednesday due to internal bleeding.
By Friday, the musician was still trying to recover — but feeling lucky to be sitting in his Denver home. Roberts moved to the Mile High City about a year ago after getting married — making the decision to move from New Orleans to where his wife lived, instead of vice versa.
“I’ve been playing here for 10 years. … I love it here,” Roberts said. “No regrets.”
The New Mastersounds will be bringing their modern soul and funk to Warren Station in Keystone on Sunday, Feb. 7.
BRINGING THE FUNK
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The New Mastersounds formed in the late 1990s in Leeds, England. Roberts was running a club night, and had the opportunity to put a band together to complement the DJ sets. Drummer Simon Allen and Roberts had played together in a band previously called The Mastersounds, and the two added Pete Shand on bass and Bob Birch on the Hammond. Inspired by New Orleans funk band The Meters, the band began touring around the United Kingdom, eventually spreading out their tour around Europe and into the United States, and even Japan. They began touring in America in 2004, which propelled them to change the way they played onstage.
“We’ve been doing this kind of music for a long time and then we started coming to the U.S.,” Roberts said. “I think the way we approached music before was, we didn’t really jam out. … The sets were shorter — really in the UK they want you to play 45 minutes to an hour, tops, and then they have DJs playing. When we came out here, and we’re like, ‘When does the DJ come on?’ They’re like, ‘There’s no DJ — you’re playing all night.’ We’re like, ‘Oh — that’s a lot of tunes.’”
They began to tailor their music to appeal to the culture of longer sets with lengthy jams.
“You Americans have rubbed off on us,” Roberts said.
They quickly realized that the culture of music in America gave them more opportunity as a band. In terms of making a career out of music in Europe, Roberts said, it’s tough — unless you are on a major label with tour and marketing support.
“What’s amazing about America is you’ve got this whole independent music scene where people go out of their way to find music that they love and support it — and come see the show three nights in row if you’re playing the same place,” he said. “That just doesn’t happen (in Europe). And it’s also kind of the nature of the music, because in the UK it tends to be more mainstream acts that are touring. Even if they are kind of indie, it’s still mainstream — probably playing the same set every night. So why would you go see three nights of exactly the same set?”
The band has found success with a stacked tour schedule, building a fan base around the U.S. and Japan. The band — now made up of Roberts, Allen, Shand and Joe Tatton on keyboards — is often found on the docket at New Orlean’s Jazz Fest, Jam Cruise and a variety of other festivals. They released their tenth studio album, “Made for Pleasure” last year, and are set for another release expected out in April.
On New Year’s Eve this year, The New Mastersounds played at the Joy Theater in New Orleans with Foundation of Funk — which features Zigaboo Modeliste and George Porter Jr. of the Meters with a rotating cast. At midnight, Roberts and Tatton sat in with Modeliste and Porter for a set.
“I’ve played with Zig before and I’ve played with George loads over the years, but to play with those two together was just so incredible and so special — it really was the highlight of my career,” Roberts said.
As a band, and as individuals, they have all played and collaborated with an array of musicians over the years, including artists such as James Taylor, Page McConnell of Phish, Grace Potter and Karl Denson. The New Mastersounds’ last album, “Made for Pleasure,” featured guests Mike Dillon, American Idol semi-finalist and Native American activist Charly Lowry, tenor saxophonist Joe Cohen and trumpeter Mike Olmos.
Working with other musicians has a massive effect on the band and what they bring to the stage, Roberts said. The guitar player has a lot of side projects he focuses on independently of The New Mastersounds, as do other members of the band, and they bring those experiences back to the band as a whole. Roberts will be playing with George Porter Jr., Kyle Hollingsworth, Jennifer Hartswick, Isaac Teel and Jans Ingber on Feb. 27 at the Boulder Theater as the Pearl Street All Stars.
“Getting asked to do these amazing gigs with world-class players will have an impact on you as a person, and as a musician, and feeds back into the band,” Roberts said.
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