Doors: 6:30 PM
Showtime: 7:30 PM
After over a decade of relentless touring and recording in all but complete obscurity, the Texas-bred quasi-collective suddenly found itself held up by the press and public as one of the major figures in the jazz world. But as the category names for all five of the band’s Grammy® awards would indicate (Best R&B Performance in 2014, Best Contemporary Instrumental Album in 2016, 2017, 2021, and 2023), Snarky Puppy isn’t exactly a jazz band. It’s not a fusion band, and it’s definitely not a jam band. It’s probably best to take Nate Chinen of the New York Times’ advice, as stated in an online discussion about the group, to “take them for what they are, rather than judge them for what they’re not.”
Snarky Puppy is a collective of sorts with as many as 20 members in regular rotation. At its core, the band represents the convergence of both black and white American music culture with various accents from around the world. Japan, Argentina, Canada, and the United Kingdom all have representation in the group’s membership. But more than the cultural diversity of the individual players, the defining characteristic of Snarky Puppy’s music is the joy of performing together in the perpetual push to grow creatively.
Their latest Grammy® winning album – Empire Central – was released in September 2022. Its sound is big and bold, chill and laid back, rooted in its native culture while reaching outward, forward bound. With 16 new compositions, the group looks fondly at where it’s come from, confident in the polished power from which its members continue to build the unique Snarky Puppy sound.
The sound now rises like a skyscraper from a 21st-century orchestra comprising three guitarists, four keyboardists, two brass, two reeds, a violinist, multiple percussionists and drummers, and the accomplished, yet modest, Michael League keeping it all together with his bass.
“Our soundscape has expanded dramatically over the years” says League. “When the band started, we were jazzier, brainy, and music-oriented. Moving into the Dallas scene we became groovier, more emotional, deeper in a sense. We focused more on communicating a clear message, understandable to a listener without dumbing things down”.
“Snarky Puppy has always been a band that prioritizes the sound of music” says League. “On this record, the songs ended up being a lot more direct and funkier than those on our previous records. I think it reflects the many moods of the city’s scene”. “Our rule is that it can’t sound like it sounded before” he continues, “the music has to feel like it’s moving somewhere”
And moving somewhere it most definitely is. Empire Central shouts from the rooftops how far Snarky Puppy has come since ten friends got together at the University of North Texas in 2004. It also raises the question – Where will Snarky Puppy go next? For Snarky Puppy fans, the answer to this question is a very exciting prospect.
Nate Wood – fOUR
The Grammy Nominated multi-instrumentalist has created a project that is a truly ambitious take on going solo. Wood is playing everything — analog synths, drums, bass, guitar, and vocals — at the same time! As well, he’s recording every song in one pass with no overdubs, click track, or pre-recorded backing tracks. “That’s why it’s called fOUR, because it’s me with four limbs playing four instruments at once.” fOUR veers from complex, spacey prog rock to electronic-tinged instrumentals.
Currently, fOUR has released a number of viral videos on YouTube and Facebook (where some of the clips have topped one million views). fOUR’s ﬁrst full-length record “X.it” was released in the summer of 2018, followed by a performance on NPR’s “Tiny Desk” in January 2019. Since then, fOUR has been touring around the globe with his one-man show, most recently opening for Snarky Puppy in support of their new record. Nate Wood – fOUR’s second record was released via GroundUPmusic in April of 2023.
“Wood’s brain splits attention between four synthesizers, an electric bass, and a drum kit, all while singing about futurism. Wood plays all of fOUR’s tunes in one take. No backing tracks. No overdubs. Nate Wood pulls us into an industrial, neon dystopia with tunes that stand alone as headphone music without the accompanying visuals, meticulously crafted, and with precise execution. This isn’t novelty music. You’re hearing (and seeing) a mastermind songwriter and mad scientist at work.” – NPR Music
Nate is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated quintet Kneebody. He has also performed or recorded with many notable artists including Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, Dave Grohl, Brian May and Roger Taylor (Queen), Chris Squire (Yes), Elliot Easton (The Cars), Chaka Khan, Wayne Krantz, Billy Childs, Tigran Hamasyan, Donny McCaslin, and many others. Nate is endorsed by Gretsch Drums, Istanbul Agop Cymbals, Promark Sticks, Remo Drumheads, Drum Workshop Hardware, D’addario Strings, Aguilar Ampliﬁcation, and Moollon instruments.