SQUAW VALLEY — The Polyrhythmics were on career-changing journey the last time it came through Lake Tahoe.
The Seattle octet, which plays Saturday at the Aug. 9-10 “Brews, Jazz and Funk” in Squaw Valley, stopped at South Shore last winter on the way to the New Orleans Heritage and Jazz Festival.
The band members made playing in New Orleans a goal from the time it formed. After played at the storied festival, they knew they had reached a talent level worthy of such an opportunity.
“We realized that what we are doing is worth doing,” bandleader Ben Bloom said. “It has definitely changed us and made us more focused as a band.
“We were so inspired by the amount of instrumental bands and their level of talent, the number of music fans, the appreciation for the heritage, the culture and the art. It’s really a place that doesn’t exist anywhere else in this country, or the world for that matter. We had been playing three weeks by the time we got to New Orleans and the band was really hot and our shows were well attended and we had some really amazing experiences.”
With all eight members in the instrumental funk band living in the musical hotbed Seattle, making time to tour has to be a challenge. Each member has other projects but considers the Polyrhythmics its musical priority. The reason: “It’s so damned fun.”
“It’s important that music is conveyed to people the way it’s meant to be heard,” Bloom said, responding to a question that disparaged the inclusion of prerecorded music in a live show. “We are not downsizing. There is a commitment value that puts this project above everything else that we’re doing.”
A New York native, Bloom attended Boston University, where he studied clinical exercise physiology while soaking in the city’s music scene. He’s been 14 years in Seattle, where he worked as a rehabilitation specialist as he built a music career.
He said Seattle’s Northern funk and soul scene has grown in recent years. Jazz and indie and folk rock are very popular. But straight-ahead rock bands and grudge groups are rare in the city that produced Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana.
“Other than New Orleans, I would say Seattle has the richest creative scene,” Bloom said. “The level of talent is extremely high, and because it’s so isolated, most talented musicians don’t end up being touring musicians. A lot of talent stays right here, and because of that a lot of outside bands have a lot of trouble breaking into Seattle.”
Bloom said he is looking forward to playing at Squaw Valley along with a band with a similar approach (although it uses vocals), the Monophonics.
“They are our friends and they also put out vinyl,” Bloom said. “It’s gonna be a pretty funky throw down up on that hill.”
Brews, Jazz and Funk
Squaw Valley Village
Entry is free but donation to the Humane Society is appreciated. Bring your friendly dog on a lease.
Saturday, Aug. 29
2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. – Mark Sexton Band
4 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Polyrhythmics
6 p.m.-8 p.m. – Monophonics with special guest Ben L’Oncle Soul
3:30 p.m.-6 p.m. – Terraplane
Sunday, Aug. 10
2 p.m. -3:30 — Mojo Green
4 p.m. -5:30 p.m. – Big Sam’s Funky Nation
6 p.m. -8 p.m. – Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
3:30 p.m.-6 p.m. – Thick Newton