MUSIC WITHOUT BORDERS


By Tucker Petertil

Brown Edition
“My vision… was to get something together in the middle of the week where people could dance their asses off”. This is Miguel Pineda frontman, singer and guitarist for the band Brown Edition speaking about the band’s ongoing Wednesday night gigs at the Royal lounge.
The band has been together just shy of a year and in that time they’ve become one of the most talked about bands in Olympia and their Wednesday night gigs at the Royal have become the hump day dance place to be.
Besides Miguel the nine piece group consists of: bassist Tom Pell, guitarist Tarik Bentlemsani, reed players Aaron Wolff and Jeff Brooks, Nathan Geyer on trombone and trumpet, drummer Ben Hawkes, keyboardist Brent Pendleton, Miguel Lopez on congas, and Ninee Wolff sitting in occasionally on flute.
I got together with Miguel P., Tom, Ben and Tarik on a recent Wednesday evening before their performance to get the bird’s eye lowdown on the group.
“I have the biggest mouth in the group” is Miguel’s explanation of how he wound up as the band’s leader. He got the band together and also runs the sound at the Royal. He continues, “Essentially (I) keep us on track and keep the energy level up”.
Miguel grew up in Tumwater in a family of musicians with his uncle, Joel Guzman being a Grammy winning Tex-Mex accordionist who’s appeared with Rickie Lee Jones, Joe Ely, Michelle Shocked and on Jeff Bridges’ “Crazy Heart” movie soundtrack.
Growing up Miguel was influenced by the New Orleans funk of the Meters, James Brown and his sax player Maceo Parker and dreamed of forming a band along those lines.
He moved to Spokane where he became a Blues singer and guitarist and then to Seattle where he experienced a healthy mid-week club scene and saw no reason why it couldn’t also happen in Olympia.
While there’s been some speculation about the band’s name Miguel tells me that it’s actually a bastardization of a hip Spokane neighborhood called Browns Addition.
The interplay between the two guitarists is one of the highlights of the band’s shows and the other guitarist Tarik is also a local who played soccer with Miguel growing up.
Tarik is a big fan of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and since joining the band he’s been catching up on his education listening to early funk records saying “I have an idea of how to play funk” but continues “I just want to play as much music as possible”.
Tom came from Louisiana where his grandparents owned a music store. “It wasn’t a question of what I was going to do with my life but which instruments I was going to play.” He moved to Tacoma where he began performing in Blues bars at 19, then moved to Olympia for Evergreen and joined with Ben Hawkes in the hard rock band Fungus Riot.
The Brown Edition drafted him as bass player after their former bass player broke a string mid-set and Tom lent him his bass. He was later invited onstage to play a few songs and Miguel says, “This dude (Tom) tried to get offstage, and I said, “You’re not going anywhere,” and ever since he’s been in the band.”
Tom jokes that before they solidified their current lineup last October it was the “The Brown Audition” as they invited musicians to join them onstage to see if they fit the ongoing vision.
Everyone who made the cut comes from a musical background; Brent Pendleton was country singer LeAnn Rimes’ musical director, Jeff Brooks plays clarinet in the area’s symphonies. Tarik also plays as a solo acoustic artist and plays light jazz in Momenti Rubati. Ben grew up in Lakewood, was taught music at an early age, played in various bands for the past 6 years and also runs sound for the 4th Ave. Tavern.
Though everyone has projects on the side Miguel hopes for longevity saying “I wanna keep these guys together as long as time permits and create as much music as possible.”
The band writes their original music as a collaborative whole and while much of it is in the jazz/rock/funk fusion vein they also throw in some interesting cover versions. The night of this interview they performed a balls to the wall rocking version of Los Lobos’ “Last Night (I Got Loaded).”
The Olympia band Sour Owl approached them about producing a Brown Edition record and now they’re currently recording both an EP which they hope to release in a few months and a full length record sometime later this year. The Brown Edition who are all in their mid twenties to thirties feel blessed to have the approval of seasoned musicians that they look up to.
In addition to their weekly Royal gig they are also playing Lakefair in July and will tour around the states later in the fall.
Catch them Wed. June 8th at the Royal, 311 N Capitol Way when they’ll be joined by San Francisco’s Afrofunk Experience and June 11th at the Procession Community Arts Studio for an all ages show.
More info at http://www.facebook.com/TheBrownEdition

Fri 6/10/2011 1:28 PM