Vinyl’s new Flea Market full of unexpected surprises 

Who: Vinyl

Where: Boot Pub

When: March 30, 31

"The power of a solid reggae groove is always quite addictive," says Geoff Vaughn, bassist with the San Francisco collective band Vinyl, who will play from their new album, Flea Market , at two shows over the weekend.

On a song like Gross Polluter, which meanders through genres, that groove kicks in for 30 seconds of reggae.

Gross Polluter was the name of the band’s commuter vehicle in their early tour days. It failed to pass the San Francisco smog test.

Since the days of the barely-there van, Vinyl has gone on to play the Newport Jazz festival and the New Orleans Jazz Festival. For the past three years, they played the Maple Leaf pub at the festival in New Orleans.

"New Orleans shows are madness, but in a good way. There’s always a really good vibe there, even though people are (partying) quite a lot," says Vaughn.

"It’s kind of a magical place. The set we play there is from 3 a.m. until 7 a.m., and New Orleans doesn’t sleep. There’s so many people raring to go at that time it boggles the mind."

While New Orleans has its own approach, Vinyl’s new album, Flea Market , is a collection of styles and approaches.

"Some of the songs on Flea Market are these dub reggae interludes that weave in and out," says Vaughn.

Bernie Worrell (of Talking Heads) and Les Claypool collaborated on the new album. It’s a partnership that began in the Canadian Rockies.

"We met Bernie while playing a show in the Rockies, where they were playing as Bernie Worrell and the Woo Warriors," says Vaughn.

With a little Latin, R&B, and other funk rhythms, the eight-piece band can segue smoothly from one instrumental section to another.

Vaughn is joined by musicians Doug Thomas (sax and flute), Jonathan Korty (keys and harp), Antonio Onorato (congas and timbales), Danny Cao (trumpet), Billy Frates (guitar), and Alexis Razon (drums). Sean Onorato will be replaced by brother Tony on bongos for the Whistler show.

"There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen," Vaughn laughs.

Flea Market was recorded at the Pocket Studio in northern California. The title comes from neighbourhood jaunts where band members grew up.

"The thing about going into a flea market is that you never know what you’re going to get," he says.

"When we’re sitting around the studio jamming there’s no telling what ditties may come out. Sometimes one person will put a reggae beat under something and the song is made."

Prior to Flea Market Vinyl released two albums on Fog Shack Music, Live at Sweetwater in 2001 and 1999’s self-titled debut. Three Sets , a compilation from Lauan Records, also featured the bands Jiggle the Handle and Day by the River.

"The idea was to team with other bands, and share the music with similar fans," says Vaughn. "It’s a great way for people to get turned on to new styles of music," he says.

The art of the improv keeps shows fresh. Billed as "high-energy" and "dance-oriented," Vinyl’s music includes a touch of old school funk.

"Audiences are quite perceptive to knowing whether the band is really present," adds Vaughn, with reference to the vibe of any given show.

"We never use the same set list, the music is different every night. Because of that element to the music, it’s never quite the same. And that’s what we’re trying to do."

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