Groovement: Put This On Your Ears

by Tamara Styer

     The first time I saw Groovement live at the Rogue on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas, they had a female lead vocalist, and were a surprising find of funky original tunes that got the crowd boogying out of their seats, as well as some unique renditions of unexpected covers, such as “Caroline,” by Outkast. Through the tunes that made me shake my groove thang, it was hard not to notice, these guys are having the time of their lives. A mix of guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and horns, all of the members enthusiastically sing background vocals with their new lead singer, Alex Carr.
     Deitra Mag had the privilege of sitting down with Carr, Bryan Burkhart, Adam Becker, Randy Soller, Jacob Johnson and Trey Burkett of Groovement at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Arkansas where the band performed in a benefit to support the families affected by the tornado that hit Cincinatti, Arkansas on New Year’s Eve. Local bands and community members came together for great music and a huge spread of barbecue.

DM - Tell me about your upcoming projects.

Bryan Burkhart, drums – We are working on a full-length album that should be out by the summer. We’re just continually writing tunes, working on new stuff, and getting ready for patio season: big long four-hour gigs.

Alex Carr, lead vocalist - I miss those days, man, the four full hours.

Burkhart – Well they’re coming, man. They’re right around the corner.

Carr - We have been spending some quality time in the studio. I feel personally that it’s coming along pretty well. People are gonna love it! (He says with a mouthful of barbeque.) I love it!

DM – Why do you love it?

Carr – The music! The way that we all play together. Some of the music was there already before I joined the band, but just the chemistry that we have together and how it flows… I feel good about it. It’s good feel-good music!

DM – Have you guys known each other for a long time?

Carr - I just met this guy (Burkhart) last year, when a really cool guy, Andy Frasco, came to town, just playing around, getting people to jump up there with him, and that’s how we got turned onto each other. And we’ve been best friends ever since! (laughs)

Burkhart – Now, he did go to high school with our guitar player, Trey Burkett, so when we had our lead singer change, his was the first name out of Trey’s mouth.

 DM – Speaking of which, I heard Alex went to American idol. What can you tell me about that?

Carr  – Well, I can tell you that it’s a fun experience. I made a lot of good memories. I feel like I may have waited too late in my life to start doing that kind of stuff, but overall I’m happy with the results I got for my first time going to try out. It was fun! I made it to Hollywood. I wasn’t there very long, but I’ve been to California… And I rode a plane! (laughs)

     In the background, another band starts playing “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle on the back stage of George’s.

Carr - Oh, people love this song! Like, everybody loves ‘Copperhead Road!’ I don’t get it. Their like, ‘Man it’s about moonshine, and…’ (He shakes his head.)

Burkhart - We are in Arkansas, you know. (laughs)

DMYour stage presence is high energy, it’s so fun to watch you guys. How do you create that for yourselves?

Adam Becker, keyboards – We made being high energy a priority from the beginning.

Carr – And I just get up there and do whatever I want. I just ‘act a fool.’

Jacob Johnson, saxophone - I think we just really enjoy playing together.

Burkhart – That’s all it is, really. We really like giving off the high energy. That’s what we would like to hear when we are in the audience, so therefore we want to go and do it ourselves and share that feeling with others.

DM - How do you guys let down your guard and put yourself out there without holding back?

Carr – Oh, I don’t exercise, so whenever we have a show, that’s my chance to jump around and sweat. (laughs) And people will be like, ‘Man you’re awesome!’ I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I just lost 5 lbs. I’m feeling real svelte.’ I need it. And I’m wearing this jacket too, a bunch of layers. Scarves…

Burkhart – It’s your own sauna. (laughs)

DM  – What would you guys like to see happen for the local music scene and local artists?

Carr – Personally when I was younger I think the Fayetteville music scene was a lot more booming and it faded out because it’s a college town and wherever college kids go is what is going to be popular. And college kids like the worst music ever. They’re not really down for checking out live music shows, but it’s coming back though. Because people like you and people like us get out there and support the music and just do the local thing, and it’s working slowly but surely, I think. And a lot of Fayetteville artists are getting out into other areas too, spreading it around in Tulsa, spreading it around in Missouri…

Becker  – When I first came here they were putting a lot of the local bands with the bigger bands that came through town. I’d like to see that more. Now it’s like, put the little bands at a different venue. It seems to me it makes sense to do it the other way.

Burkhart – I believe that it’s kind of low right now as far as the scene. In the past the Fayetteville scene’s been great. A lot of that was because there were a lot more venues, and there were a lot better local bands. There was more abundance of good local bands. And I remember the day when I was going to college here - which I’d like to think was not that long ago - we would have the local entertainment magazines here, and we would pick them up and look to see who was playing. Groups would go out on the weekends based on what band was playing. And now I think with Facebook and Internet and YouTube, and all the free stuff, and communication and all that, it might have gone away from going and trying to find that band. The interest has been lost. It’s now done on the computer, and not out in person. I think that in that regard it’s kind of had a little bit of negative effect on the local people, on a local level, on gigging, on playing. It does help a wider audience to have a chance to get out there. But all that stuff is free, and when you want to go in to play a show and support yourself to do this… That’s probably why there were a lot of better local bands because it was a great part-time job to have while you were in college. And now it’s not. So therefore you have a lot of musicians that probably aren’t even doing it. They’re just sitting at home making YouTube videos, and that’s it.

Randy Soller, bass – With the computer age, so to speak, and getting it free, I don’t think people go out. They expect to go out to a bar and not pay a cover. And that’s probably what you were trying to hit on. I remember what he was talking about, and you could go see three great bands, and you would just pay three dollars. And now people are aghast at that. And I think maybe that does connect back to that access to so much free music. Not necessarily good music either.

Burkhart – Yeah, you have to filter through it. And there might be a little more of an over saturation of that to where people kind of get turned off to it.

Soller – It’s like on one end it’s great because you get so much exposure that way, but then there’s the downside to it.

Burkhart – And hopefully it will all come full circle, and that, in the big picture, is relatively new. And I think that eventually, it’ll come back around where people will realize that the guy that downloaded some internet program that generates noise and is putting it up on the internet is not the same as coming and seeing six people go and play an instrument together as a unit in a live setting and capture the energy. Even outside of the music, even the social aspect of it. Being able to come together with other people that are enjoying themselves, not sitting around a bar table drinking a martini, talking about what that person has on, you know. Actually coming out and just enjoying the music and everybody having a good time, and forgetting about that part. And I think it’ll come back around. I have strong faith in that, and I think that the musicianship will start coming back around too. Things like auto-tuner on vocals is coming out.

Carr – People turning into music nerds and that’s how they compete against each other, like being the most technical, or the best player, I like that kind of stuff. That kind of challenge, that kind of camaraderie about artists. And I’d like to see musical artists come back in the community like business owners are. Integrate themselves, and not just be music as a separate thing in the community. And in Fayetteville that’s an easy thing to accomplish, you’ve just got to get old people on your side. (laughs) Old people and college kids on your side! And let them know what you’re doing. Get the word out.

DM – What kind of things do you do to bring people out to your shows?

Carr – Promote, promote, promote. You’ve got to grab them. Give them a free CD or something.

Burkhart – Whatever you can. Facebook has been a positive in the regard.

Soller – All those same venues we complain about, we do it right along with them. We put up YouTube videos and hope people see that, and send out Facebook invites.

Burkhart – That’s the positive side of it. And you have to utilize that. You’ve kind of got to bring you’re A-game a little bit, because instead of being curious, you kind of hear about them, and you think, ‘Oh that band looks interesting, I want to go see them, or let’s look them up on YouTube,’ and if you don’t deliver there, they won’t come see you. But at the same time if you do, then they’ll be like, ‘Dude we need to check these guys out.’ And they’ll go tell their friends too. So it’s real hit-and-miss there. You just do everything you can, and everything you can afford. Try to do magazine interviews… (laughs)

Carr – I sound like a billboard everywhere I go, just because I really want people to come and check us out. People will be like, ‘What you been up to?’ I’ll be like, ‘Man, I’ve got a band, come check me out.’ And they’ll be like, ‘No, I’m talking about you.’

Burkhart – The best way is to go out face to face, and like you said, word of mouth.

Carr – And if you can put something on their ears, that’s where, really, either people love you or they don’t. If you put something on somebody’s ears, and let them hear your music, you got them.

     With a mix of influences like James Brown, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, Groovment’s shows are definitely a party and a must-see for anyone who loves music. Catch them live at the Backwoods Bash Music Festival in Prue, Oklahoma at 1 pm, George’s Majestic Lounge on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas on June 27 at 6 pm, and Webby D’s in Fortsmith, Arkansas on August 6 at 8 pm.

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Reproductions prohibited
Copyright 2011, all rights reserved
Photos property of Groovement, used by permission
Copyright 2011, all rights reserved. 


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