In ska music, monotonous grooves and riffs can become tiresome and turn people off to the sounds. Without variety and diversity, the music becomes stagnant and quickly withers and dies. Shanty Sounds blends a unique hybrid of influences to form fresh sound that can move from high-energy ska, to mellow jazz, to steady rocking reggae with ease and breathe new life into the music.
Hailing from Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Shanty Sounds formed in May of 1999 in hopes of revitalizing a struggling local music scene. The nine friends each brought a very different musical background to the table. While soul, jazz, rock, hip-hop, funk, and punk were all a big part of the bands nine members, they were unified under an appreciation for the sounds of the American neo-traditional ska groups, the Slackers, Hepcat, and the Stubborn All-Stars.
all of the nine members gained crucial performance experience while playing
in the High School Jazz Band and were all outstanding musicians. They chose
to write most of their own material, throwing in the cover or two and play shows
regularly while most of the band was still in High School. Through many parties
and early club dates, Shanty Sounds began to pay their dues and establish relationships
that would help them on their way. They have molded a unique sound that borrows
from all genres of ska and reggae and dabbles in soul and jazz.
The success of a group is directly related to the strengths of each of its members and Shanty Sounds is no different. The diverse and individual sound of the group comes from the mixing and meshing of ideas and styles of the nine talented players.
Lead Vocalist/flutist Seth Curran brings years of experience of playing flute and singing to the group. His vocal range is as wide as the types of music he enjoys, be it Phish, Bob Marley or the Amazing Crowns. His Melodic flute adds range and depth to the horn section on instrumentals.
Guitarist Eric Peter Widor brings a little of the punk rock attitude to the table while moving fluidly from style to style. His crisp guitar attack gives the music its fresh upbeat sound and many of his compositions have formed the core of the Shanty catalog.
Saxophonist Chris Brunelle brings years of experience with jazz and improvisation to Shanty, giving the melodic horn parts a smooth sophistication and intensity. His frenzied improvisations are highlights in performance while his musical ideas give way to some great songs.
Trombonist Justin Leclerc is a musical chameleon, performing at the highest level whether it be classical, jazz, punk or ska music. His booming, raucous sound fills out the low end of the horn section and his rhythmic gangbuster solos recall Wil Clark, and Vinny Nobile.
Trumpeter Joe "Sweet Pea" Rogers proves that good things come in small packages. His Bright brassy trumpet sound soars above the mighty horn section. Joe's onstage antics are a staple of live shows. Whether dancing circles around the horn section or blowing kisses to the girls in the audience, Joe always seems to be the center of attention.
"Rocksteady" Mike Gagne brings years of composing and playing piano
and organ to the group. Mike favors subtlety over flashiness, but his groove
oriented solos and laidback approach to ska accompaniment is an indispensable
part of the bands unique sound.
Keyboardist Chris Torres delivers a healthy dose of attitude from the west coast. A San Diego native, the "CAT" brings an extensive traditional ska background, as well as an affinity for fast fingered jazz improvisation. His compositions give Shanty Sounds a bi-coastal approach to ska music.
Bassist Jay Gagne is the anchor of the group. His steady rocking bass lines lay the foundation for all of the groups musical ideas to come to fruition. Jay's walking riffs and all around solid playing holds the band together.
Drummer T.J. Spyrka adds rhythm to the melody and harmony of the group. His rock and punk influenced powerhouse drumming accentuates key sections and he grooves, and keeps the band in time and on their toes.
Thanks and gratitude to the following bands:
The Agents, The Skatalites, The Amazing Crowns, The Allstonians, The Slackers, Sunshine Smokey and The Rhythm Juice, The Moneyshots (rip), Eastern Standard Time, The Speakeasies, Westbound Train, The Soul Merchants, Green Island, Keep The Change, The Obscurities, The Radiation Kings (rip), Perfect Thyroid, Monty's Fan Club, Angry Salad, The Lost City Angels, Sinners & Saints, Pilfers, Chris Murray, Louisiana Hayride, The Kings of Nuthin', The Pills, Take 5, The Sifters, Disco Stu, Jaya The Cat, Darkbuster, Citizens Unrest, Christ I Bled, Shat, and anyone else we've ever gigged with...
Shanty Sounds disbanded in March 2001.