By Caleb Calhoun
It’s not easy having an ocean and a continent between yourself and the rest of your band-members. It’s not any easier to plan months of U.S. touring from the other side of the pond. This was the conundrum that brought The New Mastersounds‘ guitarist, Eddie Roberts, to America a little more than six years ago.
He lays it out for me like this: “I just saw that this was where my career was going to develop and that I just needed to be here. It was hard running the band from Europe. I also wanted to do more collaboration with players I had met on the road. It just made sense.”
It certainly seems to have worked out. Over that period of time, The New Mastersounds have built a sizable base in North America. Meanwhile, Roberts has either created or worked with a cornucopia of side projects, including a collaborative EP with their tour-mates, Turkuaz.
“It feels great (to work with Turkuaz),” Roberts tells me. “We’re all from the same mold. We share the same musical influences and and speak the same musical language. Every show we do some cross-pollination where we sit in with them and they sit in with us.”
The New Mastersounds are driven by Roberts rhythm-heavy guitar and rely heavily on bass-lines carried by Joe Tatton’s keys. Turkuaz, on the other hand, features Taylor Shell’s electric bass prominently. Their undercurrent also calls to mind more Mo-Town than The Mastersounds true jazz roots.
Many of the members of both bands are also well-known for their talents as producers and engineers. In fact, for fans of the Asheville funk powerhouse The Fritz, there is a particularly personal connection. The Fritz are currently recording a new studio album in which Turkuaz guitarist Dave Brandwein has a major hand.
“He is an up and coming guy with great instincts,” The Fritz percussionist Mikey Spice says. “We actually took a lot of cues from that on our new record as far as album syntax and musical interludes and things like that go.”
Both bands are known for their exciting live performances. Roberts’ guitar is pure energy and Turkuaz, coming off of a revelatory performance at Lock’n this past summer, is becoming known as one of the best acts on the circuit.
The New Mastersounds have quite a bit of new material available to play, as well. “I already have the studio booked in February,” Roberts says. “We did a few bits and pieces in New Orleans after JazzFest, and we got a day in Denver, but the album will be out next fall.”
There’s little doubt that some of those tunes will work their way into Saturday’s set-list. After nearly nine weeks on the road (with a two week “break” where they played five shows in Europe), even the newest songs should be tightly executed.
In fact, this marathon funk train they’ve been on since the end of September makes its final stop at The Orange Peel on Saturday night.
“It’s really just going to be one big party on stage,” Roberts says. “It’s been a long trip and the end is in sight and it’s our first time together in Asheville.” He trails off. Nothing more needs be said.
The New Mastersounds and Turkuaz will be playing at The Orange Peel on Saturday, Dec 17. Doors at 8pm, music at 9pm. $20 in advance and $22 DOS.
Caleb Calhoun studied writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and music at a plethora of clubs and bars across the southeast. He is the author and publisher of Rosman City Blues and currently resides outside of Asheville with his dog and best friend, Dr. Gonzo.
You can reach him at Caleb.firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Facebook.com/GonzoNC.