Band of plenty
Eight-piece Polyrhythmics bring a musical blend to Music in the Mountains
Lone Peak Lookout: Getting an eight-piece band together must be quite the task. Could you describe how Polyrhythmics came to be? And why the band works so well together?
Art Brown, sax and flute for Polyrhythmics: It is so very worth it but it comes with challenges. The band grew out of a particular musical vision, which was first proposed by Ben, our guitarist, and Grant, our drummer, with Scott, our trumpet player, brought in soon afterward. All of the members of the band were involved in different circles of creative music in Seattle that intersected occasionally. The idea was a large-format instrumental band that would have elements of funk, psychedelia, afrobeat and other styles we were all into, but also would not be trying to recreate or imitate those traditions specifically. Once those guys got the ball rolling the other pieces (myself included) started to fall into place. As far as why it works, I think we all were invested in the idea really early, and the time we’ve spent travelling, playing, and writing music together has really cemented the connections we have to the music and to each other as people.
LPL: You can choose one famous musician—living or dead—to join the band. Who would it be, and why?
AB: Fun—and tough—question! I have to say ahead of my answer that I am positive you would get a different name from every member of the band (not necessarily a bad thing)! For me, I would choose someone that I would want to play with just for myself, like one of my saxophone heroes, but I’d rather name someone that I would love to hear in the setting of Polyrhythmics music, which is still really tough. I’ll say Stevie Wonder. He’s an inspiration in every musical category across the board: composition, arrangement, performance, etc. I would love to hear what he would do with our sound, and with Stevie I still have my selfish reasons; to improvise with him would be a humbling and wonderful experience!
LPL: What’s your favorite performance venue? What’s special about it?
AB: I have to give you several on this one. At home in Seattle, I have to name Nectar Lounge and Seamonster Lounge for being the venues that have grown with Polyrhythmics over the years, with staff and supporters that I feel really close to at this point. I like playing the Star Theater in Portland; the crowds there have been really loving, and the venue itself is a beautiful space. And for the wild card, I enjoy the Crystal Bay Resort in Tahoe; big stage, great sound and nice accommodations (which sounds superficial, but makes a huge difference after being on the road for a while with eight people!).
LPL: What advice would you give to someone hoping to make it as a professional musician?
AB: There are a lot of things I still need to learn, but most of what I’ve been thinking about lately, as it relates to playing music professionally, is that you have to know your value, or at least be working toward knowing it. Financially, you have to know what your music and your playing is worth, and get yourself to a position where that’s what you ask for, every time. You also have to recognize your value as a musician in the world and society in general, and believe in its importance. If you keep that stuff in mind, you will hold yourself to a high standard when it comes to your music, and you can be fearless when it comes to going out there and trying to make it happen professionally.
LPL: Music in the Mountains is a much-anticipated event here in Big Sky. Could you describe what concertgoers can look forward to for your show?
AB: We are a big band, and bring a LOT of sounds and colors to the stage. Folks that are coming to Music in the Mountains can expect music that MOVES, uplifts and feels epic!