Alan Evans Trio
When Alan is not behind the kit rockin’ a show, most likely he’s putting something together somewhere - or maybe taking it apart. Alan is a builder – that simply who he is. Whether it’s a band, a studio or a website – Alan builds it. And that doesn’t mean calling a contractor or a programmer. Alan rents the space, designs the layout, buys the lumber, assembles the gear, wires the rooms, builds the isolation chambers and, oh yeah, produces and mixes the records. He buys the URLs, gathers the content, takes the photos and movies, encodes the backend and launches the site. Of course, he is best known for playing drums in Soulive – a band he founded and that has toured the world over and again. He has shared the stage with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Chaka Khan, from Dave Matthews to John Scofield. To the outside, he is a world-renowned drummer, respected by fans and musicians alike and that is a big part of his story. To those who know him well, there is another part of his story. Alan has come to define the modern concept of the renaissance man – a man, known for a certain skill, but equally adept at many others – husband, father, builder, producer, engineer, web designer, guitarist, keyboardist and creative conceptualist.
Alan grew up in Buffalo, NY in the 1980’s. There were strong musical influences in Alan’s life from the very beginning. To say that the Evans family is musical is to say that the Kennedy family has a proclivity for politics. The record player spun in the Evans household the way the TV blared in many other homes. Alan’s father, Willie, and his older brother, Rod, played DJ and the assembly of vinyl they accrued was broad and vast. Miles Davis, Jimmy Smith, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Kool & the Gang, Jimi Hendrix, the Headhunters – these were just some of the sounds emanating out of the Evans living room.
In fact, Willie, was a drummer himself. He had a Silver Sparkle 54 Gretch kit in the basement. Alan grew up listening to his dad playing along to records on that kit. Eventually, Alan would descend to the basement and follow in his father’s ritual. When Alan got good enough, he inherited the kit and took that very same kit on the road for years.
Alan’s musical journey is inextricably intertwined with his brother, Neal. A few years younger, Neal became a prodigious pianist, vibes player, and eventually gravitated towards the Hammond B-3 organ. At the age of 12, Alan started gigging out around town. Within years, Neal and Alan were playing real jazz gigs at clubs around Buffalo. In those days, Elvin Jones and Tony Williams were Alan’s Gods. It was later, when Alan began to dive into guitar, that he discovered funk and rock musicians just had a lot more fun.
The history of Soulive – now 13 years old – has been widely told. It has been an incredible journey with much promise still ahead. It’s hard to believe that with all of the records and tours, Alan, Neal and Eric are still in their early 30s. Alan’s career pre-dates Soulive. He and Neal were two-thirds of Moonboot Lover, a popular band in the mid-90’s and Alan toured heavily with Karl Denson after that.
While Alan’s musical pedigree is clear, his other accomplishments may say as much about him as his strictly musical ones. No one taught Alan how to mix a record or, literally, build a
studio. His dad wasn’t Bill Gates, programming late into the night. He didn’t go to business school to learn how to run a successful studio. While Alan may have an innate sense of how to pop the hood and check the transmission, it is his intellectual curiosity and uniquely American entrepreneurial spirit that pushes him to discover and execute. Most recently, Alan has designed and built a studio from scratch in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Alan is the chief engineer and producer at the studio and is working on a wide array of projects. The studio has become production HQ for all Royal Family Records projects – Alan and Soulive’s record label venture. Alan is also now focusing on his new band, the Alan Evans Trio with guitarist Danny Mayer and organist Beau Sasser. The trio is all set to record a brand new album of Alan's original music this February and begin touring in the spring of 2012.
It is amazing that, with the mind of a scientist, Alan drums the ways he does. His sound is powerful but never at the expense of emotion. The sound of Soulive is so particular – hard driving and grooving and Alan is at the very epicenter of that. When Alan gets a solo, however, there is a window into another side – darker, more introspective and nuanced. Alan manages to take his empirical understanding of things and make it meaningful. He knows how to infuse emotion into knowledge. It seems like he can move into a space where he can forget about all he’s learned and rely on instinct. This is very rare.
As Soulive turns 13 and the music business is adrift at sea, there are challenges for every musician to face. Alan has managed to quietly stay one step ahead. Soulive may be Alan’s Mona Lisa. But like da Vinci, the world’s most famous polymath, Alan has developed skills and knowledge beyond his most famous work. With a full arsenal, he pushes ahead – never missing a beat.
Danny Mayer is a self-taught guitarist who began playing music at the age of 14. Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Mayer has lived in and migrated through places like New Hampshire; Vermont; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Gainesville, Florida. However, it wasn’t until he made his way west, to Santa Cruz, California, that Mayer set about pursuing his musical passion as a career.
In 2006, Mayer formed On The Spot (OTS) Trio with keyboardist Kris Yunker and drummer Emery Nelson. On The Spot Trio, now with Jeff Wilson on drums, has grown into a widely recognized, nationally touring, Hammond Organ-driven funk trio. They recorded their first album, “Straight Out The Garden” in 2009, with Soulive’s Alan Evans at the controls. OTS Trio returns in 2012 with “Shag,” another collaboration with Evans as producer and guest musician. Mayer is also a member of 7 Come 11, another Santa Cruz-based Hammond Organ trio.
With a distinctive sound of his own, Mayer’s guitar stylings pay homage to some of the tastier jazz, soul, and rock players throughout the decades. Mayer’s philosophy is that intention, soul, personality, and emotional content are the elements that truly move people in music. Mayer is infinitely comfortable within the trio setting. He’s had the time and experience to develop his own musical voice, which he seamlessly integrates with his bandmates’ sound.
Danny has been forced to learn how to keep an audience’s attention with every solo, night after night, with steady residencies in Santa Cruz and San Francisco.
“To me, it’s all about feeling the room out, and feeding off the crowd,” describes Mayer. “You can start off slow and take your time, but eventually the goal is to fill the room up with energy, until it gets so full it feels like it’s about to explode. That’s when I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Beau Sasser hit the music scene at a young age, traversing the snowy highways of Colorado for gigs with his own band and performances with legends like John Denver and Jimmy Ibbotson of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In the mid-90s Sasser headed east for a stint at Berklee College of Music and soon found himself back on the highways with the successful band Akashic Record. Around the year 2000 Sasser began performing almost exclusively on the Hammond Organ.
In addition to his tenure as Melvin Sparks’ preferred organist, Sasser leads his own trio whose residency at Bishop’s Lounge in Northampton, MA is now in its fifth year, and freelances like crazy.
Touring throughout the United States and internationally, Beau has shared the stage with Steely Dan, Michael MacDonald, Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire along with funk master Maceo Parker(James Brown), Mike Keneally(Frank Zappa) and jazz greats Medeski, Martin & Wood and Melvin Sparks.
SHMEEANS and the Expanded Consciousness
Adam "Shmeeans" Smirnoff (of Lettuce, Lady Gaga, and Robert Randolph) has joined forces with Adam Deitch (Lettuce; Break Science) on drums, Chris Loftlin (Brian McKnight) on bass, & Pete Levin on keys, to create the newest addition to the Royal Family arsenal: The Expanded Consciousness.
Adam Deitch: Performed/recorded/ with or produced: Lettuce, Break Science, John Scofield, Pretty Lights, The Fugees, Wyclef Jean, Chali 2na, Anthony Hamilton and many more.
Performed/recorded with: Brian McKnight, Gerald Levert, Wayne Brady, Joe, BeBe Winans, Kim Burrell, Justin Timberlake, John Scofield and Chapter 2.
Performed/recorded with: Blind Boys of Alabama, Bernard Purdie, Zen Tricksters, Christian McBride, Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville, God Street Wine, Levon Helm sit ins...Session work with: Train, Korn, Everlast, Beastie Boys, Chuck D & Public Enemy, Angie Stone, Joe Cocker.
Mr. Breakdown throws dance parties. The band plays pop-funk...a unique style of funk, reggae, and soul steeped in the grooves of James Brown, Tower of Power, Bob Marley and Fela Kuti. Their tight pocket sets the groove, while catchy vocals and inventive horn arrangements give the songs their distinctive pop sound.
Mr. Breakdown has shared stages with George Porter and the Running Pardners, Jermaine Paul (Winner of The Voice) Eric Krasno & Chapter 2.
Based in Nyack, NY, the main songwriters and rhythm section have been creating music together for over 10 years. They are Mike Kemmlein (Guitar, lead vocals), Joe "Mamma" Carpentieri (Drums, vocals) and Dave Reiss (Bass, vocals). After years of playing funk in many incarnations, they honed their sound and formed Mr. Breakdown in 2008.
Breakdown released their debut album “Shake Daddy Jupiter” on April 20th, 2012. This instant funk dance party was recorded by Bob Both of Twain Recording, who was production supervisor for James Brown from ’69 to ’75. The album was self-produced by Mr. Breakdown, mixed by Jonny Rod at JRod Productions and mastered by Tony Gillis at Cutting Room Studios.
With shows lined up throughout the North East, Mr. Breakdown will continue spreading their music. Next stop...Jupiter and Beyond!