Eugene’s the Sunday Bump is one of those bands that captivates an audience as soon as it hits the stage.
It could be because of the number of musicians on stage, which often reaches the double digits, but it’s most likely due to the band’s fusion of funk, soul, jazz and pop.
This sound compelled the bar owner at Luckey’s Club in Eugene to have the Sunday Bump host a weekly funk jam called Groove Sessions for the last year and a half, and it’s what helped the band book a show in Coeur d’Alene’s Live After 5 concert series on Wednesday.
Performing every single week, in the same town and at the same venue, has the potential to get stale, but a rotating cast of guest musicians keeps things fresh.
Time spent on side projects also helps.
“We are always working on music as individuals, so each time we come together we’re essentially different (and ideally better) musicians,” trumpet player Charles DeMonnin said in an email. “The things leading up to Wednesday also make each session different. We might have a really rough week and need to get some emotions out, and that, I think, helps keep things exciting within our group.”
The Sunday Bump was known as Alvin and the Chipfunks until the departure of bandleader Alvin Johnson in January.
The band had mixed feelings about Johnson leaving. On one hand, they wanted him to succeed. On the other, they were sad to see their best friend leave.
Nevertheless the remaining musicians quickly decided they had to keep performing together.
“While Alvin led the band in many ways when he was here, he brought together so many individual voices that we still had plenty to say without him, and in many ways say more,” DeMonnin said.
The band’s first statement as the Sunday Bump is a self-titled album, the release of which they’re celebrating at a show Friday at Eugene’s HiFi Music Hall.
The album, which the band recorded at the University of Oregon School of Music studio in less than four days and was produced, recorded and mixed by drummer Justin Kiatvongcharoen, will be available at the Sunday Bump’s Live After 5 concert.
On the album, the Sunday Bump continues toward its goal of pushing the boundaries of what funk, soul, jazz and pop can sound like.
“I think at heart we’re all experimenters of music,” DeMonnin said. “Part of what pushes the music is our desire to see what happens when you mix D’Angelo with Stevie Wonder, or what happens when you add a dash of Prince to Estelle, or if you blend Pat Metheny with Chris Dave and Aretha Franklin. Our collective influences and inspirations each have their own energy, and when we get into a room together it all comes alive in something new and exciting.”