What is your background in music?
I started as a passionate listener and ten years ago I realized I had to learn to play and perform. I took a few lesson in the beginning, but I'm self-taught for the most part, learning mainly from recordings.
Who is the Foundation? What is the foundation story (pun intended!) of your band?
The Foundation is a group of people that got behind a great man and talented artist, the late Randy Ponzio in the summer of 2011: Tonye Aganaba Sang alongside Randy, Paul Clark (drums), myself (bass), and Sean Demitire (guitar). It was Sean that coined the name Foundation, pulling from the lyrics of one of Randy's songs ('Bigger Than').
The name stuck, and now with Randy gone it means even more to the original members to do good social works, make the greatest music, and dream the impossible into living colour.
With the recent addition of Allan Olivierre on keys we've begun to see some glimpses of how solid our music could become.
Describe your sound in a few words.
Old soul dipped in church sauce meets greasy new school funk/R&B.
How do you guys come up with new material each week? What are some go-tos that you play?
For our Thursday concert series we have different artists come in each week so that keeps us on our toes. There's always new songs to learn. Whatever the featured artist wants to perform we make it happen, be it covers songs, originals, and/or improv.
We pick a few to mess with and a few to be serious about. We might take a bridge of a tune and make it Reggae like 'Bag lady' by Erykah Badu, or lay a more dramatic plot over the whole of the song like 'He Loves Me' by Jill Scott just to keep it live and fresh. If it's classic we'll get right down to the smallest of details. I'll transcribe every bass note and play it exactly like the record, like on Al Green's 'Lets Stay Together' for example.
Who are some of the awesome acts you've had join you on stage at Guilt?
Most recently we had Dutch Robinson Reach out to us asking if we'd like to work together, which was a huge honor for us (he will be playing on the 7th and 21st of March). The man has lived deeply and achieved a lot in his life including three Grammys. Tonye Aganaba evokes something extraordinary from her audiences as she defines the term gifted entertainer. David Morin and I have played together for three years and he's more than a musical triple threat: singer, rapper, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. I also find Dawn Pemberton's voice and spirit truly special, and it's like we've always known each other. I hear that deep rooted sound in every note she sings.
What was the first instrument/song you learned to play?
The first song I learned to play was 'So What' by Miles Davis on upright bass. Looking back...with the familiar melody in the bass, the simple form, and popularity of the album, it was a good starting point.
Tell us the concept behind your night at Guilt & Co.?
When Guilt and Co asked me about hosting a regular weekly show I thought about what it would take to make something 'Bigger Than' just a concert series happen. Randy Ponizo had just passed away and our community was still reeling from the loss and, at the same time, I had been looking for something to put my energy into in honor of him. I wanted to create a place that could fill the gap in some people's lives beset by their problems of addiction, while creating R&B music. Our year anniversary is the beginning of May and we are on target to have raised $16-17,000 in donations collected at the door for the non-profit community. I would say we've started to make our selves known musically and that we've started to make a difference to the areas residents but both pursuits are endless.
How does a usual night go down on Thursdays?
It starts weeks in advance with a dialogue with a local performer. We pick the date and choose material, which then gets sent to the band members who learn it at home. We'll all meet up once and check for trouble spots, add endings and find places to solo or segway. At the show itself we fuse together our abilities and the material, putting all the pieces together for listening and viewing pleasure -- no computers, backing tracks, or light shows. It's just organic, genuine music built from the ground up.
What other night would you be at at Guilt & Co., if not your own?
Fridays and Saturdays are sure things. Just this month there has been two Grammy winners and two Juno winners hitting the stage. Where else can you see a free show in a cool 100 seater venue with that level talent? What's happening there is so special and its something every music listener should check out.