Jumpsuit jubilee

Black Market Brass poses for a group portrait at their rehearsal space in Minneapolis on Wednesday, June 3. The music group plays a blend of Afrobeat and funk to bring bold, uptempo sound to their audiences.

Juliet Farmer

Black Market Brass poses for a group portrait at their rehearsal space in Minneapolis on Wednesday, June 3. The music group plays a blend of Afrobeat and funk to bring bold, uptempo sound to their audiences.

Grant Tillery

The Twin Cities’ version of the P-Funk family is Black Market Brass. Like the ’70s progenitors of funk, the ensemble’s defining characteristics include their horn-heavy hits and ever-changing cast of characters who make appearances at live shows.
 
“There’s been like 40 different people who have played in our group at one point,” guitarist Mitch Sigurdson said. “It’s a whole little mini-tribe.”
 
Black Market Brass brings the funk to a metropolis otherwise devoid of Afrobeat. The funky brothers formed in 2012 through a Craigslist ad created by Sigurdson. He wanted to form a unit based on the sounds of Fela Kuti and the Meters, and guitarist Hans Kruger replied. Kruger played with another group at the time and ended up merging with Sigurdson’s band. Thus, Black Market Brass began.
 
“That’s how I found Mitch — I was looking for a keyboard player, and so was he,” Kruger said. “[Percussionist David Tullis] actually responded to our ‘looking for a keyboard player’ ad; he was a percussionist.”
 
Other musicians replied to the ad as well, most of who weren’t keyboardists. The group netted a killer conga player through the process, however.
 
“I said, ‘I’m not a keyboard player, but I’m sure you could use a percussion player,’” Tullis said. 
 
Gathering a large ensemble for practices and shows is a daunting task. With 10-15 members in the band at a time, conflicts occur with scheduling. But by having a wide net of musician friends who can act as subs, the band’s sound is always sure to be sharp and on-point.
 
“We’ve thought about having a reunion show,” Kruger said.
 
Case in point: Baritone saxophonist Cole Pulice said the screaming sax man, who wailed at the group’s Bauhaus Brew Labs Art-A-Whirl show, was not him.
“That wasn’t me; it was a sub,” Pulice said.
 
The laid-back kind of cool Pulice embodies permeates throughout the whole ensemble, even in terms of musical accuracy. Though Black Market Brass tightens things up with its horn hits and in-the-pocket backbeats, the musicians leave room for minor mistakes within the structures of their songs.
 
When these music foibles appear, Black Market Brass approaches them with clear heads: “Is this error awesome and actually preferable, or is this error distracting and takes away from the music?” Kruger said.
 
This modus operandi carries over to their unnamed upcoming album recorded for Secret Stash Records. The band recorded the album in one swath and without overdubbing.
 
“There were a few songs that we recorded that were like, ‘This is cool — it’s like a seven,’” Kruger said, rating album cuts on the one to 10 scale. “What if we totally mess with it, and make it something completely different, and make it into a nine or a 10?”
 
To hit that mark, Black Market Brass sometimes tweaks its melodic recipe to make a more soulful-sonic stew by cooking the music lower and slower.
 
“We slow it way down usually, add some grittiness and do a totally different beat,” Kruger said. “We have both versions [of songs] recorded — the straight-ahead version and the psychedelic version. Every single time the weird psychedelic version [wins].”
 
While the band occasionally features vocalists, the group has shied away from adding a consistent singer because it’d have to rearrange songs around words instead of harmonies.
 
“I like the instrumentals because we don’t have words,” Sigurdson said. “No one can misconstrue our words.”
 
The lack of words also allows Black Market Brass to play up the group’s aesthetic. The band wears thrifted, paint-splattered jumpsuits on stage.
 
“We played some show, and our keyboard player at the time showed up wearing [a jumpsuit],” Sigurdson said. “We [were] like, ‘That’s awesome. We should all do that.’”
 
Most of the band sports green, blue or tan jumpsuits, though Kruger wore a bright blue snowmobile suit for a while. But he said he gave it away and is now embracing the neutral hue of uniformity.
 
“Our keyboard player has it now, but he’s gone,” Kruger said, “so is his onesie.”
 
Black Market Brass
 
Where Calhoun Square
When 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Cost $10-$15