Groove Foundry | Tahoe’s Powerhouse Big Band

Courtesy Clare Foster

If you are at a local bar or outdoor concert and you happen to come upon eight musicians dressed to the nines playing tight, upbeat versions of classic soul, jazz and funk tunes, chances are you are in the presence of the fabulous Groove Foundry.

“Our band is really all about the horns,” says tenor saxophonist and band leader Todd Mather. “We put all three of us center stage.”

Aug. 9 | 9 p.m. | Alibi Ale Works | Truckee
Aug. 10-11 | 9:30 p.m. | Bar of America | Truckee

The original band formed in 2010 out of a Bar of America house band and has continued to expand over the years to include trumpet, trombone, drums, guitar, bass, keyboards and lead vocals. Sometimes they even add a second percussionist and guitarist to the mix to create a dynamo 10-piece collective.

Growing up as a musician in Park City, Utah, Mather had the opportunity to open for G. Love and Special Sauce and America with his reggae blues bands Chord On Blues. He even played on the main stage of the 2002 Olympics.

“It’s been fun working with everybody since we all come from different musical backgrounds,” he says. “It’s a pretty creative environment. With eight people you have to be on top of it. We don’t have time to play around. We run it as a business because we have a lot of people putting in a lot of time.”

For this talented, hard-working ensemble, making fantastic music for the people is a labor of love. But when you’ve got something special, it’s worth the time and effort to keep it growing.

“We recognize we’ve got the biggest band in town hands down,” says Mather. “Luckily for us we have a unique situation where everyone gets along really well. It’s a team sport. When everyone is well practiced and ready to go, we go out on stage and we win. It feels good to share that with everyone who did their part. With a big of group of people it’s kind of special when you can pull it off well.”

Mather has found that being in a group that primarily plays cover songs rather than focus on original material actually has its benefits. Sticking with proven compositions allows Groove Foundry to dial in its sound on material that they know will work favorably in a live setting. It’s a method that was commonplace in the 1950s and 1960s, but has seen a decline in recent decades due to an emphasis on artistic originality.

“Bob Dylan wrote maybe 3,000 songs, but how many of those are actually good?” he asks. “If guys like that can’t write hits day in day out, then surely us getting together is not going to be any better than bands that are out there generating great songs today. Instead we get to cherry pick the best of the best and choose cool songs that fit our style.”

Groove Foundry is known for playing the tunes of contemporary composers such as The Motet, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress and Maceo Parker, as well as original adaptations of the classic jazz canon.

“Every song becomes our own even through it’s a cover,” says Mather.

While Groove Foundry does occasionally backup other local standbys such as The Blues Monsters, they prefer not to collaborate with others unless everyone has the time to properly rehearse.

“I’ve never really liked all these bands that are always just jamming together,” says Mather. “I feel like there should be more thought put into it. Our horns get asked all the time to sit in with other bands, but we usually turn them down. For us, it’s gotta be tight. With horns, if you miss one note or even an intonation, everyone is going to notice. It takes a lot of effort, but we want it to be polished.”

At the end of they day, it’s all about professionalism and precision. This is what sets Groove Foundry apart, making them one of the most popular Tahoe bands today.

“Our approach has always been dress nicer than the audience,” says Mather. “We wear suits and ties and it’s not uncommon for someone to spend $300 on a pair of shoes just for a gig. To some degree, I think you act the way the way you feel and you feel the way you look. Dress sharp, look sharp, play sharp. That’s our philosophy.” | Groove Foundry Tahoe on Facebook