Multi-instrumentalist Brian Risling spent the past two years looking for musicians who groove like he grooves. After moving to Southern Oregon from Minneapolis in 2011, Risling, a longtime sideman with the Lamont Cranston Blues Band, decided to take a turn as frontman.
He attended open jams, networked with other musicians in the area and played as a guest with bands such as Rogue Rage, Lovebite, The Rogue Suspects, LEFT, Localpotion, Soul Food and Jive Coulis, all the while looking for someone who could execute his original "funk 'n' roll."
Three bass players and one drummer later, Risling has his trio, although he's still on the lookout for a keyboardist.
Who: Brian Risling & Airtight Alibi
When: 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17
Where: Caldera Tap House, 31 Water St., Ashland, and Howiee's on Front, 16 N. Front St., Medford
Cover: $3 at Caldera and free at Howiee's
Call: 541-482-7468 or 541-773-5767
"There was a certain sound I was looking for, and it wasn't the right fit for certain people," he says.
This week, Risling on tenor saxophone, guitar, vocals and maybe melodica will debut his new lineup, featuring bassist and vocalist Adam Nelson and drummer Damian Bugg, at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Caldera Tap House, 31 Water St., Ashland, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, at Howiee's on Front, 16 N. Front St., Medford. The cover at Caldera is $3. Call 541-482-7468 or 541-773-5767.
"It's finally happening," Risling says.
The trio will play his groove-oriented originals, as well as new arrangements of covers by The Beatles, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins and others.
"I want it to be funky, but I also want it to be raw," Risling says. "It's the sound of Larry Graham and Graham Central Station. We don't play that sound literally, but I really wanted there to be that slap bass kind of funky stuff and times where there is driving rock 'n' roll. There's a tune we do — "Ride On, Ride On" — that sounds like a train chuggin' down the track, kind of bluesy rock. We also took a version of "Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder and gave it a rock feel. We slowed it down and made it a bit more snappy."
Many of Risling's originals are about love, peace and "gettin' along," but there's also some that don't fall under any category, such as "Designated Decoy," inspired by a joke Risling heard, and "Wah Wah Acid Trip," which pays homage to Jimi Hendrix.
"I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that this is it," Risling said. "I'm also hoping that the more we play, we'll be able to attract the keyboardist that we need."