Bull City Syndicate, a nine-piece band featuring a four-piece horn section will bring the funk to Festival Park on Thursday, Aug. 21, as part of the Fayetteville After Five concert series.
The Raleigh-based band has been together in one form or another for eight years. Trumpet player Steve Baker says the band’s horn section makes it unique. “We’re a horn band, not a band that uses horns,” said Baker. “And there is a a difference. There are a lot of beach music bands in North Carolina that implement horns but don’t play music centered around the horn.
“Songs based around a horn section have pretty much disappeared,” said Baker. “So there aren’t a whole lot of bands playing the old songs like we do.”
The Syndicate’s music includes original songs as well as covers by such famous horn bands as Earth, Wind and Fire, the Tower of Power and Chicago.
Included on the band’s set list are such classics as “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park,” and “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire.
Lest you think they are just a golden oldies band, the Syndicate also covers more modern tunes, such as Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love,” and “Hey Ya’” by Outkast.
“Our biggest demographic is the 35-50 crowd,” said Baker, “mainly because that generation grew up listening to the classic horn-based songs. But we do perform a lot of songs for the younger generation.”
Baker said the band plays about 100 gigs a year, mostly weddings and corporate events, though the band does enjoy playing the clubs and other venues; he said the Syndicate has gigged in Fayetteville, but only at private functions.
“We would love to play in some of the Fayetteville clubs, but most clubs don’t want to pay for a nine-piece band when they can get a three- or four-piece band cheaper. Plus, we’re such a large band that there aren’t many venues where they can fit us all on the stage.
“We are looking forward to playing Festival Park, though,” said Baker. “I’ve heard it’s a good venue.”
While Baker said the band is performing as many gigs this year as in the past, he says the state of the economy and high gas prices have affected the group economically.
“Because gas prices have gone up so much, our operating costs have increased,” said Baker. “However, we’ve had to actually lower our asking price to get gigs. Corporations aren’t having as many parties because of the economy and people having weddings have cut back on what they will pay for a live band.”
Despite the downturn in the economy, Baker said the Syndicate will definitely lift the spirits of everyone attending the show. Also, Baker said that so far, Bull City Syndicate is the only band on the bill, which means the group will play three one-hour sets.
However many sets the band plays, the concert series has been a huge success, especially, for the Fayetteville Museum of Art, which sponsors the free shows and uses the proceeds as a fundraiser.
“It’s been extremely successful,” said Michelle Horn, the museum’s assistant director. “The series has been met with more success than it had last year. It continues to grow, which means as a fundraiser it is more and more successful.”
Horn added that the series has been extended through October; traditionally, the series only runs through September.
The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. and wraps up at around 9:30.