By MICHAEL-SHAWN DUGAR
Now nearly eight years and 850 shows later, the rock trio is brining its talents to John’s Alley Tavern in Moscow for the first time.
The trip to Idaho is part of their 40-city tour performing work from their previous projects and newly written songs from their fifth album “California Hurricane,” which releases next month.
“We’re really stoked about coming to Moscow,” said Manny Sanchez, the 29-year-old drummer and front man. “We’ve driven through quite a few times … and we’ve had so many friends be like, ‘Dude, you gotta stop at John’s Alley Tavern and throw it down, man. That’s a great spot, it’s a great city.’ It’s always fun returning but that first one is always something special.”
GrooveSession is all about inducing listeners to move and groove to their music, which Sanchez describes as a “mixture of funk, soul, rock ’n’ roll with heavy blues and jazz influence” that he calls “positive movin’ groovin’ music.” “Good Times,” one of their signature songs, sums up their all-inclusive style.
“The song itself, it’s a journey,” Sanchez said. “It starts out nice and chill like it’s just going to be a psychedelic-mellow number, which then quickly changes into a hard, funky, upbeat reggae thing. That then goes into a whole dance session. It’s a bit of a long jam that captures what GrooveSession is. The course is ‘Don’t you threaten us with a good time’ which is our running motto.”
Growing up in Ontario, Calif., Sanchez said music was always a major factor in his life. It was the numerous behind-the-scenes concert peeks he was privileged to in his youth as roadie for his aunt Rosa Maria Marquez’s production company that sparked his interest in a music career. And now, he’s fortunate enough to share the career he loves with a person he loves, his younger brother Ronnie, who holds down the bass while Manguiat plays guitar and keys.
The group of Southern California natives is known for its energetic live shows with their lyrical gumbo — giving fans a small taste of everything. It’s that devotion to spirited, interactive stage performances that makes the band so special, Sanchez said.
“It’s all about high energy and getting people sweating,” he said. “Music is the medicine, so we like to — every night — leave it all on the stage, and we love it when people leave it all on the dance floor and just bring it. Bring that high energy and just shake their ass, until they don’t have none anymore.”
On stage they feed off the crowd energy, making the audience the fourth member of their group to create a beautiful rock, funk, soul and blues-inspired masterpiece.
As a group, Sanchez said, their songwriting ability has grown significantly. They’ve come a long way from their first album, which was strictly instrumentals, to their next project, which includes just two instrumentals and features wide-ranging lyrical content with an emphasis on three-part harmony. All that is an attempt to find a balance between the rambunctious feeling they strive for at their shows, and the conceptual records that resonate with the casual fan.
“We love to jam and we love to get wild but we also love to bring it down to a whisper and sing, then get back to the roar,” Sanchez said.
Their songwriting journey took them to Sturgeon Bay, Wis., last week for the Steel Bridge Songfest where they spent a week working on songwriting, spin-the-bottle style. They gathered with a group of 86 other musicians, spun a giant bottle of Irish whiskey, and eventually split into groups of three or four for daily impromptu songwriting studio sessions.
“We’ve been able to work on the craft of writing songs and learn from everybody and just push the envelope,” Manny said, “It’s a great networking system. Everybody brings their A-game but still teaching each other that there’s no wrong way to write a song.”
if you go
WHERE: John’s Alley Tavern, 114 E Sixth St., Moscow
WHEN: 9 p.m. Monday; 10 p.m. Tuesday
COST: No cover charge
Dugar can be reached at (208) 883-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.