By Tucker Petertil
“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
“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
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