How Turkuaz and Friends Special Jam Cruise Show Came Together

Photo: Jason Charme

By Dave Brandwein of Turkuaz

This being our fourth year on wonderful Jam Cruise, and with two sets every year, we were eager to mix things up this time around. We decided we wanted to cover something really special, but not too obvious. Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome has been a long time favorite album for Taylor, and then in turn for the rest of us over the years. 

We decided ahead of time that this would be a great opportunity to get other musicians involved and do a “Turkuaz and Friends” type thing, which we almost never do. So basically we just called up a bunch of friends to do it (Karl Denson, Robert Walter and basically the entire amazing band, Ghost Note). What we didn’t realize was that the specifics and complicated nature of each song was by far the hardest cover material we’d ever learned. So many random horn lines, harmonies, things that happen 12 times, and then 5 the next, and then 17 the next. Damn near impossible to get everything right. But we practiced a bunch with our own band, and really learned the tunes to a high level of detail. Then as it got closer we thought – “man, without a rehearsal with our guests – this is gonna get interesting!” Spoiler – everyone did an amazing job, guests and band alike. So kudos to them on that! As far as winging some things and just letting it happen how it happened – It just wouldn’t be proper tribute to Parliament if it weren’t a little bit sloppy, chaotic and crazy up there. As Robert said after the show, “that was perfect, especially in it’s imperfection.” And it was a really special moment for all of us. 

Oh, and we also decided not to tell anyone what we were doing and let it be a surprise. It simply said “Turkuaz and Friends – Mystery Album”. We were keeping it under wraps, but needed to try and squeeze in a quick run through. 

So we sealed the doors of the theater, for the very brief (10 minute) rehearsal we had the day of the show. Thinking no one could hear what we were doing, we started playing the first song “Bop Gun” with Karl. All of a sudden, we look up and Ivan Neville is running down from the theater entrance towards the stage and ran up to the piano and started playing. He said something like “sorry to crash the party, but I mean… Bop Gun? I just had to get involved”. 

Sure enough, Ivan returned for the set and became a last minute special guest. Nikki Glaspie showed up side stage during the set, and started swapping back and forth with Sput on second drum kit. Not to mention – the rest of Ghost Note were all dressed in animal costumes and had smiles on their face that seemed to imply some sort of out of body experience was happening (you can fill in the blanks yourself for what may have been going on there). Everyone played great and after the show, Sly from Ghost Note said that during the set he had experienced “the best moment of his whole life”. I’d say that’s pretty satisfying to hear from an incredible musician like him. It proved to be something that the whole boat seemed quite high off of for the following couple of days. It remains one of our favorite undertakings and sets to this day. And now we’re premiering the audio for the first time here on nugs.net Hope you enjoy (warning – it gets weird!). 

Photo: Josh Timmermans


The Evolution of Turkuaz

Since emerging in 2011, Turkuaz has lit up stages everywhere from Bonnaroo, Hulaween, Okeechobee and Electric Forest, to Telluride Jazz Fest, Lock’n, Red Rocks, and The Fillmore. Their horn-filled funk incorporates elements of R&B, psychedelic pop, gospel, Afro-pop, New Wave, classic rock, and just about any genre that gets people dancing.

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We had a chance to chat with the nonet about the evolution of their music and style over the past nine years.

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Q: You guys are entering a new era as a group. Beyond the color scheme change, what evolutions can we expect from Turkuaz in 2020?

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A: Well, the color scheme change was inspired by this last EP we released, Kuadrochrome. About 5 years ago, we released its’ predecessor, Stereochrome, which had the band dressing in all black and white. This was followed by 5 years of the “colors” era, as we’re calling it. As much as we and our fans both loved the colors on-stage, 5 years is a lot and we knew it was time for a change. We had a few other songs and arrangements lying around that had yet to be released that fit the vintage style of Stereochrome, and creating a sequel with a four-tone scheme instead of two seemed like a fun and unique opportunity to break out of the rainbow.

As far as what’s to come—we want to keep growing and changing, and being open to whatever that means when inspiration strikes. As mentioned, this last EP leaned more vintage funk/soul, but we’re already working on a ton of new recordings with a wide range of sonic influences. This was more of a palate cleanser or a little pit-stop on our journey. We don’t entirely know where it will lead and that’s part of the fun. The only constant for us at this point will be change. And we look forward to seeing where that takes us in 2020 and beyond.

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Q: We’re really excited about the upcoming “Remain in Light” shows with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew. What is that experience going to be like?

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A: We’re also very excited about it. We’ve been playing Talking Heads’ music since the inception of our band, and it’s deeply woven into the fabric of what we do. We worked with Jerry on a couple songs a few years back, and we were very happy when he approached us with the idea of doing this tour. Adrian is also a musical force that we have been a fan of for a long time, and getting to play this music with them is a great honor.

Rather than play the record straight through, we’ve been discussing modeling the show partially on the 1980 Rome show which was on the “Remain in Light” tour. This show featured highlights from the record, as well as the rest of their existing catalogue at the time. If you haven’t seen that show, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s truly inspiring and we’re looking forward to pulling ideas from it. Jerry has also mentioned wanting to do some Turkuaz songs which, of course, we’d love to do, as long as it doesn’t distract too much from the vibe of the show we put together. All in all, we want a high energy and fun show that does justice to the import legacy of that music.

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Q: The four shows at the Blue Note in Tokyo are amazing, what was your favorite experience from those shows?

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A: It was amazing. Playing the shows as well as meeting and interacting with our fans there were both so great, it’s hard to say what the favorite experience was. Simply exploring Japan was also something none of us had ever done, so the entire trip really feels like one meaningful and unforgettable experience.

The Japanese audience there was very different from our typical American audience. In addition to the Blue Note being a jazz club which naturally is a more calm and reserved environment, public space in Japan is generally treated differently and people are incredibly collected and respectful. This creates a concert environment where the audience is sitting and carefully listening to every note. I don’t think one approach is necessarily better than the other, but this was the first time we had ever played to an audience like this and I think we struck a good balance of adapting while also giving them the Turkuaz experience.

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Q: Do you have any personal favorites from the shows currently released on nugs.net?

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A: Cleveland is a good one, and Brooklyn Steel is our most recent hometown show, so I’m glad that’s in there. The Nashville show has some of the newer stuff we’ve been doing on the Kuadrochrome tour. Overall, I think they’re all pretty solid which is why they’re up there. With a band this size, and so much happening in the arrangements, we’re just looking to continually feature the audio that came out the best as opposed to posting every show. We’re not a jam band with a 100% different setlist every single night, but every show is different by at least 40-70% night-to-night, and we never repeat the same set. We plan on presenting a “best of” every so often to keep a good flow of shows coming. The best is yet to come and we look forward to adding to the catalogue.

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Q: What are you guys looking forward to most in 2020?

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A: I’m looking forward to all the collaborations. The “Remain in Light” shows will be amazing, and the Brooklyn Comes Alive set we’re doing in March will also be a blast (with Cory Henry, Nate Werth and Robert “Sput” Searight). We also have a ton of new music in the works which we look forward to sharing with the world. We’re also very happy to be part of the Nugs family! It’s gonna be a good year.

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Start streaming live Turkuaz audio today on nugs.net.

Hitting the High Seas With Our Favorite Bands

Jam Cruise is always an epic experience. From pool-side acoustic daytime sets to 4 AM super jams in the Jam Room, the boat creates an atmosphere unmatched by any other festival. Truly, nowhere else, can you be sailing the high seas with the certainty that the set you are listening to is a once in a lifetime experience. We asked a multi-year patron about what the vibe of the boat was this year, and she simply answered, “The boat was incredible. If you don’t leave there feeling better and more positive than you didn’t smile at enough strangers.” It’s a beautiful thing, being side by side with colorful costumes and expert musicians, braving a storm in the middle of the Caribbean ocean, all while dancing your way through a cruise ship. Whether you’re trying to recover from your fear of missing out or wishing to relive your best vacation of the year, nugs.net has you covered! 

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Check out our list of select soundboard audio from Jam Cruise 2020, now available to stream and download below:

Steve Kimock Featuring John Kimock, Robert Walter, Reed Mathis, and George Porter Jr.

Listen Here

moe. in the Atrium & the Pantheon Theater

Listen Here

Lotus on the Pool Deck & the Pantheon Theater

Listen Here

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong on the Pool Deck

Listen Here

Lettuce in the Pantheon Theater

Listen Here

Ghost Light (ft. Turkuaz horns) on the Pool Deck & in the Pantheon Theater

Listen Here