Take a blazing horn section, throw down some bombastic drums, pepper in the piano and guitar then stir in vocals that shift from sweet to soulful to sultry quicker than you can hop onto the dance floor. And you will want to hop onto the dance floor because that, right there, is a recipe for groove making. It’s the ingredients for crowd shaking. It sizzles. It pops. It jumps. It jives. It’s The Commotions and the taste is soulicious!
Putting the motion in The Commotions are 11 band members including two lead singers and a wild five-piece horn section with a mighty dose of trumpets and sax. This group is ready to command their crowds with brassy beats and smooth ballad treats, all about bringing back the spirit of those super Soul sounds of the 70s and the Motown rhythms that once had them dancing in the streets.
Musical director and tenor sax, Brian Asselin, gleaned valuable experience for the sound that would come to shape The Commotions when touring with Motown legends, The Funk Brothers. Sitting in the same room with the tallent behind hits like “My Girl”, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Baby Love” wasn’t just about shooting the breeze on memories he wished he’d been around to make. For Asselin, this was also planting seeds.
“After each tour with The Funk Brothers I came home and was inspired to write music in the Soul genre,” he explains. After 6 years, and a growing partnership with Funk Brothers lead vocalist Delbert Nelson, he had enough songs for the album that would become Let Me See Ya Dance.
The groovy current version of the band started taking sensational shape when Asselin started seeking a bigger, more dynamic sound. It was about cranking things up a few notches to match that “wall of sound” vibe of old. That wall was a huge one! Whoever said less is more has never had a blast of big band.
Bringing on Rebecca Noelle’s three octave vocal range paired with the power chops belonging to singer Jeff Rogers was only the beginning. The band would come to be filled with seasoned session musicians and songwriters set to pulse pump the tempo into the stratosphere on the group’s second album, aptly titled Volume II (recorded with Canadian soul hero Jarvis Church of The Philosopher Kings).
“Each musician in the group adds another element of awesomeness. The sound of The Commotions comes from the musicians who bring the heart and soul to each and every song. The songs change over time and with all the talent there is in the band, the songs always change for the better,” says Asselin, who adds that Soul music is the music of the people. The band he has put together is trying to ignite that fire originally sparked by Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and The Temptations.
Co-writing tunes with Rogers, Noelle, guitarist David Gaw, and bassist Alex Mastronardi, Asselin has found his perfect mix in and outside of the recording studio. For The Commotions, the exhilarating live show is equally as important and the band has been thrilling crowds on the festival circuit for the last few years. The Ottawa Jazz Festival, Stewart Park Festival, Kemptville Live Music Festival, Summerfolk and the Orangeville Blues Festival are just some of the spots were crowds were left in a sweaty mess after the funk washed over them. The band thrives on the big stages and with 11 members they need the room. Of course, the expanded dance floor often offered by festival settings ensures their audience has the space to party.
“We get our energy feeding off of our audience. If they are dancing to our music then we are dancing. Seeing a crowd’s response is one of the biggest joys I get out of The Commotions,” beams Asselin. “There are so many elements that have to come together to make each and every show possible. Each and every member of the band has to deliver. I am proud to say that we work hard at delivering the best show we can every time we walk on the stage.”
The trajectory just keeps moving skyward! From the stage to the screen, The Commotions have had some play on shows like HBO’s Looking, The Fosters (ABC), and Snowfall (FX). The band has also recently signed with YOW Music Group where they are happy to be dropping their hot off the presses, smokin’ single “New Suit”.
Much like their music, a new suit has to be perfectly cut and cannot be ignored, so of course was the perfect subject matter for a powerful Funk/Soul track! Written by Asselin, Rogers and Mastronardi, the song may be the deepest plunge into the waters of Motown The Commotions have taken to date. Move over bubble gum pop, toss away your auto-tune, as “New Suit” slams you into a wayback machine for a journey that recaptures another time, another age, gone but never forgotten as long as we have the music.
Asselin promises more of the same with plans to drop Volume III next year with live and Christmas albums also simmering on the backburner. If The Commotions are spinning on your sound system or stepping onto a stage near you, that bygone beat is moving to the forefront of your feet and a party is about to erupt. Bank on it!
Volume II (2017)
Good Enough 3:010:00/3:01
Bad Girl 3:380:00/3:38
Let Me Kiss You Baby 4:020:00/4:02
Too Little Too Late 4:150:00/4:15
Right Kind Of Wicked 3:090:00/3:09
Believe In Yourself 3:390:00/3:39
Don't Walk Away 3:500:00/3:50
Last Look 3:260:00/3:26
Loving You 4:490:00/4:49
Take A Chance 3:370:00/3:37
Come Clean 4:480:00/4:48