Fort Collins band Futaba brings old-school funk to OTP
Group brings big horn section, full harmonies
January 15, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Bass player Ean Smith joined Fort Collins funk band Futaba in May.
At the time, the group was a lead singer who also plays trumpet, a guitarist and a drummer. Within a few months, the band ballooned, and Futaba comes to Steamboat Springs on Saturday as an eight-piece outfit with a four-man horn section.
Smith describes the group — which took home first place at a recent battle of the bands hosted by Scene Magazine in Fort Collins — as well organized, with tight harmonies and the kinds of interwoven horn lines that can come from only highly trained musicians.
Futaba plays its first Steamboat show at 10 p.m. Saturday at Old Town Pub. The cover charge is $5.
Smith — who grew up in Steamboat Springs and has played with local groups including the Bill Smith Band and Hard Poor Corn — sees Futaba appealing to a wider audience than some of his previous, more jam-oriented projects. With strong vocals, practiced horn harmonies and their longest song clocking in at about seven minutes, Futaba has a wide appeal Smith likens to some of the band's main influences, he said.
"I'd say the biggest influences we get are probably from old funk groups like Tower of Power, Chicago or Earth, Wind & Fire," Smith said. The group does leave room for the music members grew up with, tossing some Phish covers into the mix, along with some choice Peter Gabriel, Neil Diamond and Talking Heads songs. Reggae references are frequent. Still, a strong funk and soul groove comes across in Futaba's music.
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"I'd say that the thing more than anything else … is the horn section," Smith said about the influences of those '70s bands coming out in his band's shows.
"Tower of Power is one of the greatest funk bands with a big horn section ever, and the funk groove, most of our songs have that feel," he said.
Futaba is Smith on bass; Ben Prochazka on lead vocals, trumpet and guitar; Josh Lange on vocals and lead guitar; Mark Palke on vocals and keyboard; John Giordanengo on trombone; Chris Nicholas on trombone; Scott Gaensslen on drums; and Dave Clapsaddle on saxophone. Most of the musicians hold down other band gigs, and Nicholas is the associate director of bands at Colorado State University.