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Family Groove Company brings funky Sound to Yacht Club

BY DAN WATSON | FEBRUARY 26, 2009 1:33 PM

The band Family Groove Company isn’t a family. It’s not a company, either. But the band members got one word in their name right: groove.

The Chicago four will bring their funky sound to the Yacht Club, 13 S. Linn St., on Saturday.

The group was born in 2002, when keyboardist Jordan Wilkow and guitarist Adam Lewis — both UI graduates — decided to roll the dice and move west to attend the Musicians Institute in Hollywood.
At the institute, Wilkow and Lewis met bassist Janis Wallin and drummer Mattias Blanck. The group decided to form a band with an experimental jazzy sound. But before the band took off, its members found the California’s sunny and warm weather wasn’t right for the project.

“LA is great for a musicians looking to be a hired gun,” Wilkow said. “The whole music scene there was like a bus station full of musicians wanting to have a place in an already established act.”

The band members realized that to survive they needed to move back to the Midwest, where the scene is more open to original music and touring is more efficient.

Back in the Windy City, Family Groove Company went straight to work, putting out its first CD, *Reachin’*,  and touring extensively.

The band has put out a relatively small number of CDs since forming, mostly because of the group’s heavy touring schedule, Wilkow said. But in 2008, Family Groove Company’s creative juices were flowing as the band pumped out two records in one year: *Live in Chicago* and *Models and Metrics.*

“Live performance are huge for us,” Wilkow said. “We have never felt completely comfortable while recording, but when making this last album, I think, we really started to get use to the process.”

With *Models and Metrics* the band continues its trend of innovative funky jazz-rock. Imagine a combination of any funk band in the 1970s for the beat, sharp guitar riffs to balance out a portion of the funky, plus a singer sounding similar to Geddy Lee. The effect is heavy on twists and turns and sounds like a large ensemble is behind the music, rather then only four musicians.

All the band members studied jazz at the collegiate level at one time and share an appreciation for the genre, Wilkow said.

“When forming the band, I was conceptually attracted to the idea of making the typically thought-of ‘high-brow jazz’ more accessible,” Wilkow said. “I didn’t want to simplify the sound, just make it more appealing. Something you could dance to.”

The band is in the midst of a winter-spring tour, tackling many cities in the region.

“Living in Chicago, we are able to play in numerous college towns and larger cities without having to actually live out of a bus for days on end,” Wilkow said.

Family Groove Company is slated to play at most of the large Midwest music festivals such as 10,000 Lakes, Summerfest, and Wakarusa this summer.


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