From Tower of Power’s “East Bay Grease” to the Sons of Champlin and Sly and the Family Stone, the Bay Area is legendary for it soulful bands. The latest funky new group is Eddie Roberts’ West Coast Sounds, which co-headline a Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room show Friday, May 17, along with the 13-piece Afrolicious.
If the name sounds familiar, yes, this is that Eddie Roberts, the clean, speedy guitar master of the New Mastersounds.
A native of Leeds, Wales, Roberts has an American band with three members from San Francisco and two from New Orleans. Like the New Mastersounds, Eddie Roberts’ West Coast Sounds is an instrumental funk band. Roberts followed up a solo album, “Roughneck” (because it’s not smooth jazz), with the West Coast Sounds “It’s About Time.”
“When you are writing music, your surroundings influence you quite a bit,” Roberts told Tahoe Onstage. This is my West Coast sound. I’d say San Francisco more than anything. Leeds? That would be called the gray sounds.”
The band’s newest member is Hammond B3 organ player Joe Ashlar, who was recommended by fellow New Orleans resident and drummer Jamal Watson, who also plays with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The trio first played together at Mardi Gras and Ashlar soon became a “full-fledged West Coast Sounds member,” said Roberts, who knows a good thing when he hears it.
San Francisco Jazz Mafia’s Joe Cohen (tenor sax) and Mike Olmos (trumpet) played on the New Mastersounds’ album “Out on the Faultline” before joining Roberts’ new band.
The quintet will tour Europe this summer but will be back to perform Aug. 4 as part of Tahoe City’s Commons Beach Sunday series.
And the New Mastersounds? They still gig, most recently at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Afterward, the quartet played Florida, from where Roberts had just returned when he took our phone call. Roberts said he was fatigued from the travel. Perhaps the cross-country flight to California was too short for him to get proper rest.
He said he has flown nearly a million miles on American Airlines in the last seven years, many accumulated flying between the United States and Europe.
“A lot of people get annoyed by my ability to sleep on planes, especially my band mates” Roberts said. “Before we’ve even taken off I’ve fallen asleep and as soon as the wheels hit the Tarmac I wake up.”
No one will be sleeping in Crystal Bay Friday when Roberts high-energy band goes onstage.
Co-headliners: Eddie Roberts’ West Coast Sounds with Afrolicious, a 13-piece funk band
When: 9 p.m. Friday, May 17
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Tickets: $15 in advance or $17 on the day of the show