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Band’s labors pay off

Autumn Phillips
Key points ° Little Hercules ° 10 p.m. tonight and Saturday ° The Tugboat Pub & Grill in Ski Time Square ° $5 ° 879-7070 Basso recommends ° "Inspiration Information" by Shuggie Otis ° Papa Mali ° "Groove On Up" by Curtis Mayfield ° "Rejuvenation" by The Meters ° "Soul Trane" by John Coltrane

Key points ° Little Hercules ° 10 p.m. tonight and Saturday ° The Tugboat Pub & Grill in Ski Time Square ° $5 ° 879-7070 Basso recommends ° “Inspiration Information” by Shuggie Otis ° Papa Mali ° “Groove On Up” by Curtis Mayfield ° “Rejuvenation” by The Meters ° “Soul Trane” by John Coltrane

Eight years ago, music promoter Casey Phillips booked a band called Little Hercules at The Tugboat Grill & Pub.

It was one of the band’s first gigs outside its hometown of Minturn.

“Casey really believed in us,” bass player Christian Basso said. “And since then, Steamboat has really witnessed the growth of the band.”

In eight years, Little Hercules has become a national touring act with record sales in Europe and Japan.

The band plays a style of funk driven by the bass and a B3 Hammond organ, an instrument recently added to its sound when Jeff Armistead joined the band.

“Jeff really was the last piece of Little Hercules,” Basso said.

The band brought Armistead into the band for that old-school funk sound, but he ended up adding an unexpected element. Armistead adds electronic samples and loops to the music.

“What he does really matches what we’ve been trying to do, which is interweave different styles of music.

“I’m a big funk fan, but Jeff is a big hip-hop and house fan, and he brings those inspirations.”

The band plays mostly original music with the occasional cover of The Meters — songs members learned from the source. Recently, Little Hercules has been playing as the back-up band for Leo Nocentelli of The Meters.

“Leo is considered the forerunner of the funk guitar,” Basso said. “His band, The Meters, toured with the Rolling Stones and influenced a lot of people.

“We back him as a band and learned a lot of their material.”

Their original songs are written with New Orleans-style jazz in mind, a style picked up from playing with The Meters and also from playing in New Orleans at the city’s annual Jazz Fest.

2005 will be their fourth year on stage at Jazz Fest. Regular Jazz Fest pilgrims may have seen Little Hercules at The Parish at House of Blues or at the Maple Leaf, the Mermaid Lounge, Silky O’ Sullivan’s and the Red Room.

“We’ve befriended a lot of musicians from the New Orleans area, and when they travel up this way, we play with Papa Grows Funk, the Rebirth Brass Band and Wild Magnolias,” Basso said. “They’ve really taken us under their wing.”


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