Members of new Edmonton band The Retrofitz have no problem being compared to Prince's multi-talented back up band, the New Power Generation. Infusing their music with various elements of funk, soul, dance and disco, The Retrofitz seem the heirs apparent to Prince's posse, even singing the Prince track "Musicology" at their first official gig.
The eleven-piece band made its debut last month to an eager and enthusiastic crowd at Edmonton's Sidetrack Caf». Other than Prince and the New Power Generation, The Retrofitz are reminiscent of such artists as Michael Jackson, James Brown, Fatboy Slim, and Sly and the Family Stone.
The Retrofitz is the brainchild of Marc Beaudin, who is known mostly for his work with Alfie Zappacosta. "I had some ideas, so I met up with people through common gigs and recruited experienced musicians," says Beaudin. "It's like when you build a house÷. The rhythm section is the foundation, and the singers are living in the house. I wanted singers who could convey a message."
Beaudin filled out the roster with experienced musicians Liz Han and Kelly Alanna (both of Godiva), Christian Mena (Maracujah), Peter Belec (King Muskafa), Jamie Cooper (Celsius), and a five-piece horn section from the Royal Canadian Artillery Band, led by Edmonton jazz favourite Don Berner.
Beaudin brought in the horn section as an experiment. "Horns always add energy. Horns also add quality and a sense of harshness," he says.
The band looks forward to more gigs, especially in Edmonton. "Edmonton is a lot of fun, but it doesn't have its own sound" says Beaudin. "It's demographically challenged, but there have been some talented people to come out of Edmonton. People like Big Miller, Alfie Zappacosta, who I worked with, and Tommy Banks came out of Edmonton."
Keyboardist Liz Han goes further: "Edmonton is a transition city where emerging musicians stop for a while. People going out east to Toronto or Montreal may stop in Edmonton, and÷ eastern musicians going to Vancouver may stop here as they head west."
Along with performing more shows, the band also plans to record some original songs in the futureůnothing concrete yet, but Beaudin is excited about what the future holds.
"It's fun when I go out and have a musical mistress," Beaudin says. "Don't tell my wife that, but music is my mistress."
Writer: Trent McMartin