Casting the musical spell

A good band knows how to take its audience to the next level. As they undulate on the dance floor, they are transported into a musical trance, resulting in a dancing frenzy. This is the prime goal of Tracorum and for this band the name says it all.

Fletcher Nielsen first caught wind of the word when watching the 1971 musical “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” starring Angela Lansbury. In the movie, tracorum is spoken as part of a spell cast upon inanimate objects in order to make them move. But the spell doesn’t work until music is introduced. That’s where Nielsen comes in. The jazz school graduate and front man of the San Francisco-based rock ‘n’ soul four-piece, describes his band’s music as cosmic-gospel-thunder-funk, a galactic blend of genres that at once defies all labels and also creates its own.

For Nielsen, the band started as a vehicle for original songs he was writing. And, so the journey began. Taking on a life of its own, the band has morphed into a soul quenching, eclectic Bay Area talent. Steeped in traditional roots music, the band has continued to create a positively unique sound that is the vast umbrella known as Tracorum.

Leading the pack is Nielsen, whose barroom and barrel-house boogie-woogie piano leads the quartet as they blast through all genres of music, including at times trailing off into the extended jams for which their home city is known. Joining Nielsen, who also plays guitar, is Ian Herman on drums, Mark Anthony Calderon on bass and Derek Brooker on electric guitar. At the heart of this band are some of the most talented and varied musicians and the audience they attract is equally as diverse; all music lovers who look to connect to something real that celebrates life when they go to see live music. The young, the old, the hip, the nerd, the lover, the hater, Tracorum appeals to anyone who believes that life is a celebration and music the best communication.

With music featuring the sounds of New Orleans piano, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, R&B, gospel, Caribbean, Southern rock and country, Tracorum is not a one trick pony. The group finds it difficult to describe their sound. Funkadelic meets Dylan and the Dead with some Springsteen, Dr. John, Jimmy Buffet, Ray Charles and the Allman Brothers are some of the different references that come to mind.

Song writing and consistent, gut-wrenching concerts separate this band from the masses. Nielsen comments that one tune, “Break the Chains,” was written one day after contemplating all the real physical and mental boundaries that keep humanity from reaching their full potential as residents of the eternal universe. The lyrics are reflective of musical motivation and a call for action against the widespread apathy that enables injustice to flourish in the modern day environment. It also is a prayer for patience and positive response to those who oppress the human spirit — pretty heady stuff. Nielsen said he writes about the human experience, the joys and the heartbreak, the negatives and the positives, relating personal stories through characters, splicing political and spiritual overtones, and forming a sense of time and place that fans can sympathize with.

Nielsen admits that, for him, music is about celebration and connecting with the audience and the band seems to follow suit. The band’s musicianship and dedicated efforts can be evidenced by the contagious joy they exude while playing on stage and in the crowd’s attentive response to the ever-changing eclectic music they create.

Tracorum plays the Crystal Bay Club on Oct. 12 at 10 p.m. For more information or tickets, call (775) 833-6333. For more information on Tracorum, visit

Saturday, Oct. 12 | 10 p.m. Free | 21 & older | Crystal Bay Club | Crystal Bay, Nev.