Over the last few years, there has been a soul music resurgence of sorts despite the genre never having truly gone away over the last five decades.
A new generation of artists, including Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Charles Bradley and Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens are the modern-day torchbearers of the soul genre, proudly carrying on the traditions started by the likes of James Brown, Otis Redding and Ray Charles.
Atlantic Canada is not immune to the allure of soul music with The Mellotones having made an impressive mark with their music over the last few years. Soul music lovers should get ready to get down with another band making waves throughout the region: Halifax’s Roxy & The Underground Soul Sound.
Performing at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge on Friday, Jan. 16, the group was formed in 2012 by vocalist Roxy Mercier and Ian Bennett and is rounded out by Matt Gallant, Andrew MacKelvie and Adam Hewey.
Though this was the quintet’s first collective foray into the realm of soul music, its individual members bring a wealth of diverse musical experience to the table, having performed with Matthew Hornell, Matt Mays and Adam Baldwin, to name a few.
Inspired by the unforgettable sounds of Motown, southern soul, R&B and funk, Mercier says that the group shared a love of soul music before they considered putting a group together.
“Soul music was something that both Ian and I were really into,” Mercier says. “One day, it just kind of dawned on us that we loved the music so much that we should start a soul-influenced band of our own.”
Asked to what she credits the resurgence of interest in soul music, Mercier replies that she believes it is a matter of the timelessness of the music.
“I think a big part of it is people discovering the genre via people like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley who then go back to see who inspired them as artists. I think a lot of modern music, whether soul or another genre, takes a cue from who came before them and puts it in their music. I think that when people play music, they are paying their respect to those who came before them, honouring the musicians they look up to.”
Almost exactly one year ago, Roxy & the Underground Soul Sound began recording their debut effort. A Galaxie Rising Star win at last year’s Halifax Jazz Festival helped the band secure the funds necessary to complete recording of the record. Due for release late next month, the group released two songs (“Puppet” and “Chopping Block”) from their upcoming album, Don’t You Know, via their Bandcamp site.
Produced by fellow Haligonian (and soul music fanatic) Erin Costelo, Mercier says that Costelo’s guidance in the studio helped serve the material immeasurably well.
“Producing your own material can be stressful but with Erin at the helm, she made the recording process a breeze,” Mercier says. “She had a knack for song arrangements and what she feels would work best in the context of a song. Perhaps most importantly, however, is that she always remained open to our input and would insist we try all options before deciding upon the final cut of any one song.”
Following the release of Don’t You Know, Mercier shares that the group will busy themselves with shows and promotional opportunities throughout the Maritimes before ultimately hitting the highway for a series of shows in central Canada in the spring.
“The release of the record gives us a good reason to hit the road. Not that hitting the road without having an album to promote is a bad idea or anything, we just feel that having a record to bring along helps make it a little more worthwhile.”
What: Roxy & The Underground Soul Sound
When: Friday Jan. 16, 9 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George St., Moncton