Having good songs isn’t enough. To make it in the post-label world of today’s music industry, artists have to supplement their musical prowess with an understanding of how to promote that music. Local funk, rock and reggae trio The Get Right Band does indeed get it right, and has been rewarded for its efforts. The group plays at the Isis Restaurant & Music Hall on Friday, Aug. 5, in celebration of its newest album, Who’s in Charge?
Guitarist and songwriter Silas Durocher and bassist Jesse Gentry have been playing music together since they were kids. They went through middle school and high school together in Maryland. They went their separate ways for college, but kept in touch and jammed on holiday breaks. Eventually, Durocher moved to Asheville, and when the band he was in lost its bassist, he contacted Gentry. “He was living in the Virgin Islands, and I convinced him to move to Asheville,” Durocher recalls.
Not too long after Gentry settled in town, that band broke up. It was at that point in 2011 that Durocher and Gentry decided to start a project of their own. Jian-Claude Mears joined on drums at the end of 2013, completing the Get Right Band’s lineup.
But there’s a lot of work to be done. The band — specifically Durocher — understands that in 2016, it’s not enough to make good music: Opportunities don’t appear out of thin air. So the musicians actively pursue situations that will increase their exposure and grow their fan base. In the past year, their efforts landed them a local gig opening for former Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre, and a spot as featured entertainment at the Music Video Asheville awards gala.
The Get Right Band’s national aspirations got a big boost in April with a performance on NPR‘s prestigious “World Cafe” program. Durocher, Gentry and Mears have been covered in Relix magazine, and their last music video garnered more than 100,000 views. Durocher believes the group is “poised to break out on the national scene. We’re approaching the tipping point.”
The title track of Who’s In Charge? is an effective blend of rock and reggae, a distant cousin to Led Zeppelin’s own 1973 reggae pastiche, “D’yer Maker.” And “Requiem for the Chemical Memory” shifts between reggae and a kind of progressive-rock vibe. While some songwriters identify their work as belonging at a specific point on the head/heart continuum, Durocher notes yet another dimension. “My publishing company is called Head, Heart and Hips Music,” he says. “We try to engage all three of those things.”
Gentry says the group’s music puts slightly more emphasis on the heart part of the equation. “When Silas brings a song to the table, it’s definitely heart-centered. It always feels good,” he says. He believes The Get Right Band’s songs are miles away from math-rock, even though listeners will find a 9/8 time signature here and there.
In line with its goal of creating a professional product, the group chose Echo Mountain to record its follow-up to 2014’s Bass Treble Angel Devil. Julian Dreyer, who co-produced Who’s in Charge? with the band, raves about the experience. “They continually surprised me with their musicianship, grace [and] artistry,” he says. Calling it some of the best work he’s been a part of, Dreyer describes Who’s in Charge? as “an album, not a collection of songs. The long and short of it is that this was one of my best experiences creating and recording music.”
Both on Who’s in Charge? and in live performances, The Get Right Band’s songs are musically focused and tightly structured. So it comes as something of a surprise when Gentry makes this admission: “We are a jam band. I fought it for years. I’ve always liked groups that are more song-based, but that let loose.”
It’s a good description of the Get Right Band’s aesthetic. “You can jam as much as you want,” says Durocher, “but you’ve always got to bring it back to the song. And doing that brings everything together.”
WHO: The Get Right Band with Roots of a Rebellion
WHERE: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall, 743 Haywood Road, isisasheville.com
WHEN: Friday, Aug. 5, 9 p.m. $8 advance/$10 at the door