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Music with a 'Modern Groove'

August 28, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Funk-jazz quintet Modern Groove Syndicate will close out Morgan County Arts Council's summer concert series Saturday evening at Berkeley Springs State Park.

The instrumental band hails from Richmond, Va., and is touring to promote its latest album, "Ms. Popular," released in December. Showtime is 5:30 p.m.

Formed as a trio in 1998, Modern Groove Syndicate has evolved into a five-piece funk-jazz-pop hybrid, though a fresher, younger version than the jazz-fusion stuff you'd find in mom and pop's collection.

Founding member Todd Herrington said music making is a collaborative effort, with each member bringing something to the table.

Bandmates have had stints with other bands, some of them coming from musical families. Daniel Clarke, the band's keyboardist, has been backing k.d. lang on her latest fall tour. Saxaphone player J.C. Kuhl is from Baltimore and was a music major at Towson State University.


Herring said the band plans to head back to the studio later this year. You can hear the band's current stuff at

About Modern Groove Syndicate

Guitar: Trey Pollard

Sax: J.C. Kuhl

Keyboard: Daniel Clarke

Bass: Todd Herrington

Drums: Joel DeNunzio

Home city: Richmond, Va.

Genre: Instrumental, funk-jazz-pop hybrid

Influences: Sly and the Family Stone, Brecker Brothers, John Scofield

Upcoming shows: Free concert 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, Berkeley Springs State Park, 2 S. Washington St., Berkeley Springs, W.Va.


Q&A with Todd Herrington, bass player and founding member of Modern Groove Syndicate

I'm curious about y'all's creative process. How do you know when a song's done?

Usually for us, we will have exhausted almost everything, there's the light bulb moment where you're like, yeah, this is done. There's sort of a perfectionist approach, but we don't obsess over it. We like rough music - like Sly and the Family Stone - where the instrumentation and the composition is kind of gross ... like they didn't obsess over it when they were recording. It's gross, but it's great.

How long does it take you guys to come up with a song? An album?

A song? An hour or two. The record, we did it in four days - the bulk of the recording in one day. We kind of labored over the mixing and mastering. That took over a year. We just wanted the most recent one to sound unique. It wasn't a year of constant work - blocks here and there.

When I went to your Web site, I think I listened to "El Guapo." What can you tell me about the making of that song?

"El Guapo," that's the perfect example of how we write. Someone comes in with a speck or a crumb and we just go with it.

And what was the crumb for "El Guapo"?

The bass lines ... I came in with those and the guys just jumped on that.

How would you say you guys have grown, artistically?

I'd say our palettes are larger, our lives changed. Some of us have gotten married, there's a baby out there floating around - not me (laughing). Influence comes from all spectrums.

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