music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Turkuaz at House of Blues 12.28.18 Review – Cleveland, OH

January 5, 2019 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

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I was hanging out with a few friends pregaming for the Turkuaz show, just talking about random stuff. One of my buddies brings up how he and his girl recently went to see Rent and they had third row tickets. Now, he’s not a musical theatre guy, but he’s a music guy, and he said he spent most of the show focusing on the band. Not surprising given my group of friends and the quality of the band in the show. He couldn’t get over the professionalism of the band, how they could tackle such a wide variety of music and be so perfect with it and make it seem so easy and so smooth. That conversation struck up again after the show, because there was an obvious comparison with how Turkuaz performed. The 9-piece takes diverse, complicated funky music and makes it look easy. They’re rock solid performers, and they’re just fun to watch perform.

The band relied heavily on songs from their most recent album, and the new tunes are absolutely up to the standard of their previous work. They opened with “If I Ever Fall Asleep,” and the ladies in the band made it clear that they were going to force you to pay attention. The band themselves is excellent all around, with members moving from guitar to keys or horns to keys, switching things up as necessary to get the right sound. They went from there back to their first album for “20 Dollar Bill” and then jumped into “Make You Famous” and a “Digitonium” that seemed a little slowed down and darker than normal, which was a cool change. Drummer Michelangelo Carubba was particularly solid early on, throwing out quick fills and solos to fill in space in the backbeat and make sure everyone was paying attention in the crowd.

The middle of the set included a very funky “Babies Making Babies” and “Life in the City,” with the horns laying down an excellent groove. “The One and Lonely” featured some of the best bass of the evening, with a great pop. One of the highlights of the night was the fast-paced “Lookin’ Tough, Feelin’ Good.” This one set a blistering pace that the band kept up throughout the tune. It may not always come out, but Turkuaz has attitude to spare, and this is one of the songs that it shows up.

When they went back to the newest album they went back to some of the chill they do so well. “Lady Lovely,” “Rule the World,” and “The Question” were all different but all fun and easy to dance to. Different voices took the lead on different songs, but that just went to show how much talent is in the band, with everyone able to fill different roles and step in where needed. They did reach back for the end of the set, with “Back To Normal” from their first album closing their main set and “King of Computer World” and “Bubba Slide” in the encore. I don’t think it was possible for a fan to leave the show without a smile on their face and sore feet from all the dancing.

Openers Too Many Zooz are a talented and very unique trio consisting of a pair of horns and a percussionist. They put together some cool beats and organically-created peaks and drops. However, their set ended up being overly long. They get repetitive after a while, and they’re one of those bands I’ll check out at a festival but I don’t need a 75 minute set from them. That being said, they certainly had a crowd for their show and brought energy to start off the night.

I’ve seen Turkuaz 4 times over the past 13 months, and this was probably the best show of the bunch. The crowd was excellent, the venue was packed, and they sounded great. Excellent songs from a band that knows how to work a crowd. They’re a party band with the talent to hang with any other funk band out there. And they continue to put on shows that are more than worth the price of admission. If you haven’t checked these guys out live, I don’t know what you’re waiting for.

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Summer Camp made their first lineup announcement. moe. and Umphrey’s McGee will headline the festival, as usual. The lineup has taken a turn towards EDM, with Zeds Dead and Big Gigantic also in headliner roles. Other announced acts include Rebelution, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Trampled by Turtles, Blues Traveler, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Keller Williams Pettygrass, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford, ALO, and many others.

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Tropical Throe.down
January 10-14
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
moe., The New Mastersounds, Big Something

Jam in the Sand
January 15-19
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, The Wailers, Green Leaf Rustlers

International Incident
January 25-28
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams

Panic en la Playa Ocho
January 25-29
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Riviera Maya
February 15-17
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Phish in Riviera Maya
February 21-23
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 22-24
Steamboat Springs, CO
Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition, Billy Strings, The California Honeydrops, Della Mae with Bonnie Paine, Jeff Austin Band, The Shook Twins

Suwannee Spring Reunion
March 21-24
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Steep Canyon Rangers, Billy Strings, Peter Rowan, Donna the Buffalo, Larry Keel Experience, John Stickley Trio

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, ALO, Fruition, Billy Strings, Jeff Austin Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

Bender Jamboree
April 11-14
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Billy Strings

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 19-21
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta, GA
Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Rebelution, Moon Taxi, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Turkuaz

Domefest
May 16-18
Marvin’s Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (x5), Aqueous, Litz, Mungion, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

DelFest
May 23-26
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, The Travelin’ McCourys, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King Band, Billy Strings

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-26
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Trampled by Turtles, Blues Traveler, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Spafford, ALO

Dark Star Jubilee
May 24-26
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Leftover Salmon, Billy Strings, Dumpstaphunk, The Lil’ Smokies, Donna the Buffalo, The Nth Power

Camp Greensky
June 6-8
Wellston, MI

Keller in the Caverns
June 21-23
Pelham, TN
2 Keller Williams performances as well as Pettygrass, More Than A Little, and a Grateful Gospel Brunch

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 20-23
Telluride, CO
Brandi Carlisle, Sam Bush Band, Jim James, Greensky Bluegrass, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon: Stories from the Living Room, Punch Brothers, Railroad Earth

Electric Forest
June 27-30
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
3 nights of The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lettuce, The Floozies, TAUK, Spafford, Twiddle, Ghost Light, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Nth Power, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Smoky Run Music Festival
June 28-30
Butler, OH
Gov’t Mule, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Son Volt, The Travelin’ McCoury’s & Jeff Austin Band present Grateful Ball, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Rumpke Mountain Boys

moe.down
July 4-6
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

High Sierra
July 4-7
Quincy, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Jim James, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, ALO, Marcus King Band

FloydFest 19 “Journey Home”
July 24-28
Floyd, VA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grace featuring Love Cannon

Peach Music Festival
July 25-28
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, moe., Greensky Bluegrass, Lotus, Lettuce, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Allman Betts Band, Billy Strings

Lockn’ Festival
August 22-25
Arrington, VA

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Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!