The Get Right Band releases a live album

GIVE AND TAKE: Funk and jam sounds thrive on the vibe that swings back and forth from artist to crowd. “It boosts the performance so much,” says Silas Durocher, right, with Jesse Gentry, left and Jian-Claude Mears of The Get Right Band. For that reason, the band’s latest release was recorded in front of a live audience. Photo by Ross Viviano

Last February, local funk-jam outfit The Get Right Band showed up at Asheville Music Hall with six cameras, an engineer from Echo Mountain Recording and a packed house of devoted fans. The plan: to make an album.

Now, almost exactly one year later, the band is looking forward to unveiling the result, Live from Asheville, with a release party on Saturday, Jan. 26, at Ambrose West. Not only will this mark the rising band’s inaugural live recording, but it will also be its first available on vinyl.

The Get Right Band formed in 2011 after another local collective — Soulgrass Rebellion, which included guitarist and singer Silas Durocher — lost its bass player. The group tapped Durocher’s childhood buddy Jesse Gentry to sit in for a tour. Gentry jelled so well with the band that he left his base in the Virgin Islands and made a permanent move to Asheville.

As Soulgrass wrapped up its run, The Get Right Band emerged with a funkier sound built upon Gentry’s and Durocher’s natural creative synergy, with Soulgrass drummer Chris Pyle holding down the beats. Gentry and Durocher both clearly remember the night — Dec. 9, 2011 — when The Get Right Band became official. It was during a performance at the now-defunct Lexington Avenue Brewery.

“Soulgrass Rebellion band was kind of dissolving, but some gig opportunities were still coming in,” says Durocher. “The three of us who wanted to continue playing from that band started picking up random shows that Soulgrass would’ve done, but we didn’t really have an identity. We were just kind of jamming and playing parts of songs. After about six months, we started to home in on what this project sounded like. … For whatever reason, it just kind of clicked.”

The three studio albums the group has since recorded have done an exquisite job of depicting a band on the rise, from the five-song debut EP, Shake, in 2013, to 2014’s Bass Treble Angel Devil — the first with new drummer Jian-Claude Mears — and 2016’s Who’s in Charge, which the musicians recorded at Echo Mountain.

But funk and jam music are meant to live in a room with an audience. At their core, those sounds thrive on the vibe that swings back and forth from artist to crowd. Though the studio allows a band to tweak, edit and perfect a recording, there’s just some energy that can only be created in a live setting.

Gentry points out that his bandmates tend to enjoy recording more in the studio, but he feels there’s nothing like the vibe they wield from a stage. It was his idea to try making a live album, not that he had to twist anyone’s arm. “In my mind,” he says, “after we did the awesome full-length studio album, [this was a way] to do something fresh and different.”

Durocher, who appreciates the time and room to tweak a recording in a studio, nonetheless concurs. He notes that the energy the band experiences from its audience “feels so good. It boosts the performance so much. It affects us so much. There are other advantages to recording in a studio, but that’s always a thing we acknowledge in the studio — that energy’s not there from the crowd.”

For Live in Asheville, the band revisited a handful of crowd favorites from their first three recordings. “Shut Yo Mouth” from Bass Treble Angel Devil is particularly notable, coming as it does at track two, with Durocher’s charismatic vocal and cleaner, more assertive guitar than fans may remember from the recording. “The Carpenter’s Daughter” from the same album closes the entire set, with its not-so-romantic love challenge (“If you can fix me, honey, be my guest”). Here, its guitar-versus-bass instrumental break far outdoes the studio version. But that’s to be expected from a band that is committed to constantly growing and evolving its material.

“We tend to keep developing our songs forever,” Durocher says. “Some of that’s in the form of improvisation onstage. Especially if we have a song that’s become a fan favorite and we feel obligated to play it every night, we start getting bored with it, so [we’ll say,] ‘OK let’s try a slower, funkier version of this,’ or ‘Let’s try changing this from a major key to a minor key.’ [That way,] we can still satisfy our fans who want to sing along on the chorus, but we can have a different experience.”

And while the disc includes a choice cover of The Buggles classic, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” much of Live in Asheville is populated with even newer material that Durocher notes will also appear on a forthcoming studio album — the first the band will be engineering and producing itself.

If the versions of these new songs on Live in Asheville are any indication, that next studio recording will be well worth fans’ ears. In the meantime, there’s little better than the live thing.

WHO: The Get Right Band with Three Star Revival
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 26, 8 p.m. $7 advance/$10 day of show
WHERE: Ambrose West, 312 Haywood Road, ambrosewest.com

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About Kim Ruehl
Kim Ruehl's work has appeared in Billboard, NPR Music, The Bluegrass Situation, Yes magazine, and elsewhere. She's formerly the editor-in-chief of No Depression, and her book, 'A Singing Army: The Life and Times of Zilphia Horton,' is forthcoming from University of Texas Press. Follow me @kimruehl

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