Commercial Music Showcase: Gnarly Parkers

While a lot of bands can claim a nostalgic or vintage sound, upcoming Commercial Music Showcase act the Gnarly Parkers are throwing it back to the days of swing.

The seven-musician group’s claim to uniqueness in their pseudo-antique sound, emulating the jazz-bent spirit of the 1930s and ‘40s with an eye for modern audiences.

The band found its inception with seniors Anna Arata and Ryan Leet who met when they were juniors and decided to try their hand at writing music together soon after.

“He was playing gypsy jazz on guitar and I was dying to figure out what he was playing. We quickly decided that we should try to form a swing band and just see what would happen,” Arata said.

Within a week, the band grown to include not only Arata on vocals and Leet on guitar and vocals, but also Josh Irwin on guitar, Will Padgett on piano and trumpet, Charles Kay on saxophone, Roger Ross on drums and Phil Farris on bass. Pulled together by their love of jazz and their unique sound, they have been playing as the Gnarly Parkers ever since.

After auditioning for the Commercial Music Showcase in September 2014, the group was chosen as one of four acts that will be performing in the February show. Since then, they have going beyond the usual preparation process of rehearsal and planning for the showcase, however, going so far as to add to their band in order to wow the crowd.

“There is a lot of prep that goes into this showcase. We added a small horn section for the showcase, so that in itself is a lot of work – making the arrangements, individual charts, getting the new players together, and of course practicing,” Arata said.

The main challenge going onstage isn’t the music, however, according to Arata, but something that most people might not think about: “creating a fun and interesting dialogue on stage. Although we are all used to performing in front of people, trying to talk and entertain a whole group of people is tough.”

The real goal of the performance, however, is to touch the crowd with their unique sound, to get the audience actively participating and feeling the music.

“We just want the crowd to have a good time and appreciate that old style of music. More importantly, we want people dancing. This is the kind of music you can just let yourself go dancing wise and we want everyone feeling our energy on stage,” Arata said.

To learn more about the Gnarly Parkers, check them out on Facebook.

The commercial music showcase will be held at the MPAC at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 2. There is no charge for admission.

Photo credit: Gnarly Parkers Facebook

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