Written By: Ryan Dembinsky
As the fall music season kicks into full gear and talks of musical costumes proliferate,
one tour to keep an eye on is
Karl Denson and Zach Deputy collaborating on their Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance Party shows.
These energetic tributes find Karl Denson and the Tiny Universe Horns serving as the
backing band while
Zach Deputy tackles
vocal duties on a complete national tour of Ray Charles’ music.
[Photo by Jamie Piazza]
No stranger to dance party tribute shows, Karl Denson and Tiny Universe have performed a
number of memorable
runs in recent years as both the Beastie Boys and the Stones, but this is the first full
length tour. The additional
shows should allow the group to gel and evolve with the music while on the road making
this the most exploratory
and energetic iteration yet.
By the looks of his big bushy beard, you might not think Zach Deputy could do a mean Ray
Charles but he really nails
the vocals while the horns inject the high octane soul. The Ray Charles Boogaloo Dance
Party tour is underway
and continues to span a host of West Coast and Southern dates with a highlight stop at
the Fillmore in Denver for
JAMBASE: Given the current Ray Charles tour, I thought it might be interesting to
talk about where you
got started with Ray Charles, what his music meant to you and how the idea ultimately
KD: He was always one of my favorite voices. It was really Ray Charles and Stevie
Wonder. So that -
combined with the fact that I never knew that Zach Deputy was such a great Ray Charles
mimic until I saw him in San
Diego one time and he was up at a show doing some Ray Charles - really led to the idea. We
had been hanging out
for years before that night, so I said, “Hey, I didn’t know you could do that.” It was
loving Ray Charles and
discovering that Zach Deputy was a huge Ray Charles fan that really made me come up with
JAMBASE: I know you road tested this at Jazzfest, but I was curious how you handle
Do you have a keyboard or piano player there? I’m guessing it’s not really centered on the
piano as much as Ray
Charles would have been in terms of arrangements? Does Zach play any guitar or do any of
KD: Our approach is always really to just play the music and see how we fit into
it. The only thing I’ve
actually added for this run is I’m bringing a baritone sax player out to beef up the
horns. Zach is actually not playing
anything when he does the Ray Charles thing. He’s just singing like Ray Charles.
Zach does play some guitar with us as part of the Tiny Universe, which is really fun
because he’s a really strong
guitar player and you don’t get to see him play with a band very often, so that’s another
little special treat.
JAMBASE: Could you talk about how you guys prepare for something like this tour?
I’m sure there are a
fair amount of moving parts and presumably, as with most things, probably less rehearsal
time than you might like.
Do you get much time to practice?
KD: Basically, we know what songs we have to learn going into it, so we do as much
as we can at home. We've
already done this kind of thing a couple of times, so we know where we’re at when
we get together, and then
we’ll do a big rehearsal the night before the first show.
From then on, we start just rolling with it. The beauty of this one is we have twenty
or so shows to do, so we’ll
have more days to rehearse as it moves along. There will be shows and then days in between
and more shows, so
this one will actually be pretty easy compared to some of the other stuff we did where it
was fewer shows.
JAMBASE: Yeah it’s exciting how big this became. You guys really blew it out into a
full tour and the
reception has been great.
KD:Yeah, absolutely. That is a really cool part. When I did the Sticky Fingers
even though we had
Anders [Osborne], we only planned a handful of shows. Then, when we did the Beastie Boys,
MCA died right after we
did our first couple of shows, which kind of put a damper on it so we didn’t get to do too
many of those. This one is
more for the fun of it. Plus, Zach and I have been talking about doing it for a while.
It’s going to be really fun doing
more than a handful of shows.