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The San Francisco Bay Area has a long and glorious history of producing powerhouse, jazz-funk-soul hybrids like Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, and Tower of Power.  Today, take those bands, update the sound for 2016, add an incendiary frontman and you have Con Brio.

Guests at the recent Pollstar Awards at the SF Masonic saw the band on full display for a couple of numbers to open the show. They must have liked what they saw, because “we had about 30 people come down after the Pollstar Awards show to the Independent,” where the band had another gig scheduled, agent Tom Chauncey of Partisan Arts told Pollstar.

“Talk about a show that blew people’s minds. It was sold out and unbelievable down there.”


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Photo: Andrea Kash

Con Brio

Con Brio – which refers to the musical direction “with spirit” – is a group of seasoned musicians that performed in the Bay Area for a few years before bringing in Ziek McCarter, a 19-year-old Houston transplant, to sing in 2013.

McCarter joined an established rhythm section of drummer Andrew Laubacher and bassist Jonathan Kirchner, guitarist Benjamin Andrews, and a horn section made up of Marcus Stephens on tenor saxophone and Brendan Liu on trumpet.

“The band had been together a while before it brought Ziek in, and that’s just supercharged what already was a tremendous band,” Chauncey said. “The musicianship is at an extremely high level with the band, and then they brought Ziek in and it’s elevated the whole thing into what you see now.

“There is tremendous growth between their show now and when I saw them just four months ago. The band gets better and better every time they play, and they’re just getting started. They are one of the most exciting new live bands I’ve seen in a long time,” Chauncey added.

“Ziek, in particular … to be that skilled and savvy, somebody that can be a fully realized frontman at this early stage, is so rare in our business.”


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Photo: Andrea Kash

Con Brio

With its visually powerful live show, Con Brio has built a loyal fan base without the benefit of a full-length album. But that’s expected to change with the release of a record in June produced by Beastie Boys and Jack Johnson veteran Mario Caldato Jr.

Con Brio will also hit the festival circuit this summer, including Bonnaroo, Japan’s Fuji Rock, Australia’s Byron Bay Blues Festival, and two major American festival players to be named later.