Big-soul sound hits Iowa City

BY HANNA ROSMAN | MARCH 04, 2010 7:30 AM

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Poignant guitar licks, expressive lyrics, and improvisation are the basis of Chicago soul music, which is embodied by the band JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound.

The group will perform at the Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave., at 7 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $6.

Billy Bungeroth, the guitarist and founding member of JC Brooks, began learning the guitar when he was 12 years old — largely because of the opposite sex.

“I started learning how to play to meet girls,” he said. “So far, it’s been good.”

The first guitar licks he learned how to play were from Guns ’N’ Roses and Jimi Hendrix, even though his musical tastes ran to rap, rock, and punk.

“I liked anything that was objectionable to my parents,” he said.

He was especially interested in R&B, even though it isn’t exactly based on guitar. Because of that, he started playing more soul-centered music, such as Otis Redding songs, which turned out to be one of the reasons that brought the band together.

“I really love soul music so much, but I don’t have the voice,” he said.

After putting an advertisement out, Jayson Brooks contacted Bungeroth out of the musical woodworks of Chicago, and the artist responded after hearing Brooks’ talent.

“He has a great, soulful voice,” Bungeroth said.

Bungeroth is not only the guitarist for the band, but director of Second City Theater in Chicago. His average work week consists of comedy sketches during the day and band performances at night.

“It’s a 13-year-old fantasy and something I always wanted to do,” he said.

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound is gaining momentum by having a record deal in the U.S. and Europe, with a planned tour on the East Coast and across Spain, Italy, and England.

“It’s good. [Europeans] are really excited about U.S. music and R&B,” Bungeroth said.

Josh Ivey, general manager of Blue Moose Tap House, thinks that the venue is flexible to all types of genres.

“We haven’t tried soul, but we are willing to try any [genre],” Ivey said.

Ivey said that the band has received a good response in the places that it has performed. He thinks that this type of genre is the kind of thing that will translate well to a live show.

The soul group is also growing in popularity. Many attribute that to its expressive sound that is influenced by Stax DefJam, the Clash, and Funkadelic.

“[It is] the biggest soul band to come here,” Ivey said. “I am excited to see how it goes.”

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