The Rubblebucket Orchestra, a 10-piece funk band from Massachusetts, plays Wednesday and Thursday at The Tugboat. Bandleader and trumpet player Alex Toth lists Radiohead, Bjork and James Brown among the band's influences.

Courtesy photo

The Rubblebucket Orchestra, a 10-piece funk band from Massachusetts, plays Wednesday and Thursday at The Tugboat. Bandleader and trumpet player Alex Toth lists Radiohead, Bjork and James Brown among the band's influences.

Rubblebucket Orchestra draws from James Brown to Bjork

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Key points

¤ Rubblebucket Orchestra, Afrobeat, rock and funk

¤ 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday

¤ The Tugboat Grill & Pub, Ski Time Square

¤ $5

¤ 879-7070

Past Event

Rubblebucket Orchestra, Afro-funk and rock

  • Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 10 p.m.
  • Tugboat Grill & Pub, 1860 Ski Time Square Drive, Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / $5

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Drummer Craig Myers used to joke that he wanted to name an African-beat influenced metal band Rubblebucket, after the vessel that stonemasons use for leftover rock.

Most likely, that joke was funny to stonemasons and didn't make much sense to anyone else - until a 2007 jam session at the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, Vt., inspired trumpeter Alex Toth to form a band that would combine Afrobeat and other world music styles with Americanized rock and funk.

The result - a 10-piece group from Massachusetts called Rubblebucket Orchestra - draws on Toth's jazz background, Myers' jam-based percussion, singer Kalmia Traver's airy vocals, a four-piece horn section and some African instrumentation.

The band plays at The Tugboat on Wednesday and Thursday as part of its first tour out of the Northeast. Toth talked with 4 Points about moving from jazz to Afrobeat and funk, finding his band's sound, and bringing acts such as Bjork and Radiohead into Rubblebucket's dance party groove.

4 POINTS: What does your band sound like?

ALEX TOTH: There's some hard hitting West African influences, along with some James Brown funk, along with some rock and a Bjork-Radiohead kind of thing. But, in general, it's a party.

4 POINTS: Bjork and West African beats and James Brown - how do those things work together?

AT: Our guitar player, he had a really nice metaphor. : It's like if the show is a big wild party - you're at this wild party, and you're dancing, and occasionally there's a really cool painting at the party, and people are like, 'Whoa, look at that.'

It's sort of like really fun music with some more intricate musical stuff going on. You can just party down and dance, but if you just listen, too, there's a lot going on beyond just the party vibe.

4 POINTS: How did you come up with that combination?

AT: I'd been in John Brown's Body for three years. They're a really awesome reggae band, and the drum and bass in that band - the groove is just amazing.

Kal (saxophonist and vocalist Kalmia Traver) and I had been in jazz bands before, but we realized that there wasn't a really good outlet for that music - straight-ahead jazz is just so antiquated. So, we wanted to have a band where we could express the ideas of our wildest imagination but bring it to a dance floor.

Bjork and Radiohead - these are artists that bring just really deep and beautiful ideas, but rock you out with them. It's not artsy-fartsy - it's beautiful ideas, but it's still so driving. So, I guess that's the basic kind of tenet (of what we're doing).

4 POINTS: And you came up with this sound at a jam session in Vermont?

AT: It was at The Hood Plant, the big milk plant (now a mixed-use building) in Burlington, Vt. There was a big party, and I just realized, 'Wow, Afrobeat is so happening right now, and it's so cool and has a party rhythm.'

I remember going to Antibalas shows and just dancing for hours on end. It's really hypnotic, powerful kind of stuff. And Afrobeat, people don't really always know what it is, but James Brown was really into Afrobeat. : It's sort of all tied together. It's just a super-funky, rhythmic kind of music.

4 POINTS: Where did you get the name Rubblebucket Orchestra?

AT: A rubble bucket is a tool used in stonemasonry, and the percussionist is a stonemason - Craig (Myers) does a lot of hands-on carpentry and stone masonry.

A rubble bucket is a tool - all the unused rock and the garbage and the dreg you throw into the rubble bucket.

He (Myers) said, 'I always wanted to have an African metal band called Rubblebucket' as a joke. : When we were attempting to come up with a band name that was the most rooted thing we could come up with.

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