The upbeat, fun attitude with which Marquee Mayfield conducts themselves is one reason their approach to pop-fusion, funk and soul music works. Reimagining the sounds of previous eras while in an evolving musical tapestry, they sound at ease with their arrangements but with an infectious mentality, capable of making the most docile listener want to get up and dance.
That energy and passion reverberates throughout Marquee Mayfield’s most recent project, Save The Night. The May 26th release, marks their debut full length album. It’s a penetrating fusion of pop, R&B, soul and funk given voice by each member of the 12 piece ensemble.
Paying homage to the greats that came before them, you can hear the influences of Stevie Wonder, Jamiroquai, Earth Wind and Fire, D’Angelo and Prince throughout the seven song collection while still bringing their own form of funk to the stage. Front man Andrew Glass says, “I love those big arrangements that stem from a time in R&B music in the early-mid 70s. Artists like Curtis Mayfield (from which the group takes part of their name), Leon Ware and Al Jarreau were big arrangers with luscious horns and large string arrangements, that’s been a heavy influence on me and you don’t hear as much of that in today’s pop music.”
The album’s groove-laden single, “You Make Me So Very Happy”, is set to release across digital music services on April 14th. The track finds lead vocalist, Andrew Glass, wielding his mighty pen as a songwriter. “The name comes from Lou Rawl’s song of the same title. I wanted to invoke that feeling we all know of when you are in love with someone,” explains Glass. You can hear the Jamiroquai-esk influences of major7 and minor chords interwoven throughout the soul-funk-fusion, creating a backdrop for the impassioned lyrics.
Hailing from Nashville, Marquee Mayfield have become a staple at many dance parties around town, often playing tribute shows or jamming original tunes at local haunts such as ACME Feed & Seed, 5 Spot or The Basement.
Similar to many Nashville based bands that came before them, Marquee Mayfield got their start in the basement of their college home. Shortly after graduation, Glass and guitarist Landon Rives were inspired by all of the talent, (and sometimes questionable talent), they were seeing around Music City. Glass says, “Landon and I just started going out to shows several nights a week at local places like Exit In and Mercy Lounge. Both of us had played in various bands and written songs. We’d watch groups perform and just thought ‘why aren’t we doing this?’” Marquee Mayfield, then known as Relapse, snagged their first gig at The End almost a decade ago. Glass remembers, “I had no idea what I was doing, I just started driving around town to different venues asking them to book us, and someone finally gave us a shot. We managed to pack the house out that first night with friends and classmates and haven’t looked back.” Since then Marquee Mayfield has continued to make their mark on Nashville’s live music scene around town playing gigs such as Road to Bonnaroo and Rights of Spring, among others.
Now, deeply ingrained in the musical community around Nashville, Marquee Mayfield has their regular players, it’s a community effort with a cast of rotating characters. On any given night you will see 10 -20 people on stage creating those big arrangements that the band is so fond of.
All of this has culminated in the release of their first full length album, Save The Night, co-produced by Glass and BlackCat Sylvester (FutureMan, Kids Meal, Jeff Coffin, Wick-it). Glass says, “I love getting in the studio with BlackCat, he’s a true sound curator and has had such a big influence on the DJ scene here. Working with him on these past two projects really gave Marquee Mayfield a unique sound, tying that old school feel of the music in with the modern landscape of how music can be produced today. His synth-table is just as much of a voice on this recording as the instruments we used.”
In Marquee Mayfield’s first project (2014-15), a collection of six singles, Glass conceived each of the tunes on guitar and bass, contextualizing the rhythm with drum loops, keyboard textures and an array of synth patterns and horn lines. Alongside of Blackcat, Glass recorded that project with an array of Nashville R&B/jazz aficionados.
However, Save The Night features all original tunes from various members of the band. The collaboration is unique because of the co-writing contributions throughout. “We all came together to bring these songs to life,” Glass reflects. “Collaboration is a beautiful thing. I consider myself a talent organizer, just getting the right people in the room. That collaboration process is what gives these songs their life.”
“Our priority first and foremost is the music,” says Glass. “That may sound obvious to some, but we truly believe that the quality of the song should be an artist’s top priority. Go out, write great songs, play your ass off in front of people and give them a great experience. That’s what it should be about.”
Adding to that he says, “I don’t expect music to pay for my life, but I do hope to record and play in front of people until I can’t get on stage anymore. This is ‘feel good music’ - I just want to keep writing songs and great grooves that make people want to dance. This is a passion project for us. I want to be an evangelist of this music to people and spread the word about this incredibly talented community of musicians.”
It’s been said that good things come to those that wait, and after nearly a decade of performing live and various projects as a band, Marquee Mayfield’s full length debut, Save The Night, is due 5/26.