Groovetrotters to play another 2 shows in Steamboat
April 10, 2014
Steamboat Springs — The Groovetrotters are used to it.
Each time they set up for a show, the five-piece family comes to the stage for sound check.
Their appearance alone — four members all 19 years old and younger — draws the audience in. They have an old school look to them, some with dreads and others with 1970s mini afros.
It's cute, right?
There is 14-year-old Claude on drums, his child-like face the only giveaway on his tall, slender frame. Pierre is 16 and plays the Congas. Jerome is 18 and plays the keyboard. BJ is the eldest son, 19, and plays the bass.
Marcel, 43, plays dad and guitar.
"It's not what people expect," BJ said. "When people see us setting up they think we're just roadies."
But the Groovetrotters — also the taken last name of each member of the band — are far from a cute act.
It's a funky collection of music history. There is jazz, funk, reggae and rock all melded into a controlled jam session.
The band plays an encore show at 9:30 p.m. Friday at Carl's Tavern. After lighting up the venue last week, they were requested back. The band also will play the Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert Series on Saturday.
They go on at 2 p.m. ahead of the MarchFourth Marching Band.
"Initially, when people see us they think the Partridge Family," Marcel said. "The Partridges were cute, but they weren't good. These guys rip."
The band is embarking on its biggest tour to date. A little more than three years ago, Marcel decided the band was seasoned enough to start touring. They live in Baja, Calif., and started playing regional gigs.
This past October, they were playing a wedding when a guy with a Vail-based promotional company said he wanted them to open for Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Rendezvous Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Marcel didn't think much of it, but in February he got the call.
"We're going to go west then east and then to Canada," he said. "This tour is a big one. It's our first tour outside of the region."
The Groovetrotters played sets at McKnight's Irish Pub & Loft and Carl's Tavern previous weekends to a resounding response.
For the family, music has been a lifelong venture. Originally from Michigan, the family relocated to Baja in 2008.
Marcel always had an interest in music and the family followed suit, all picking up instruments by age 5.
"Claude has been drumming since he was a year and a half," Marcel said. "He would flip out if he couldn't play with the sticks."
The sound comes off heavier and more fierce than traditional funk. But the jamming is what brings the band full circle. It's controlled, all with twitches of improv.
Marcel said this comes from putting instruments in his children's hands at such a young age. At that point, he said, he couldn't teach them entire songs. Instead, it was a chord here and some rhythm there.
Then the family would jam.
Now the band is hoping for bigger things. After Steamboat, they will travel to the Front Range and then to California. Then it's off toward the East Coast in hopes of making it big.
"We go to different places and have different adventures but the crowd always seems to like us," BJ said. "The people are different, but the reaction is always the same."
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