It’s a common problem for musicians: How do you keep cover songs sharp in the face of so many others trying to do the same thing?
For Chazz Reed, that problem prompted him to gather up a group of established Minnesotan musicians and form BluPrint. The goal? Reworking popular songs for greedy audiences.
“How many times you heard ‘Brick House’ or ‘Play That Funky Music’ or Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition?’” Reed asked. “It seemed like everybody had the same songs, same words.”
Reed had watched and listened as sampling became a standard practice in the music industry, citing how Diddy reworked classics into new material in the 1990s. But why not incorporate samples with live instrumentation during performances? And why not let that be the main dish?
Joined by local studio pros with resumes chock-full of big names like Stevie Wonder, Prince, Ray Charles, Cameo and Marvin Gaye, Reed and BluPrint set out to do just that — a sort of live version of mash-up maestro Girl Talk.
“Now all the bands in town are doing [what we do], but we were one of the first,” Reed said. “I’ll wear that crown silently.”
For five years they’ve held court at the Minnesota Music Cafe, chopping the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Jay-Z, Bob Marley, Ice Cube and Erykah Badu into new arrangements, Reed rapping and singing depending on the song’s need.
“It’s funky, familiar and so fun,” Reed said. “Staying fresh is easy.”
Given that the bands mantra is “doing it to you in yo’ earhole,” a reference to a George Clinton lyric, it’s extremely easy to see how Reed’s enthusiasm is genuine.
Look for the unveiling of a new hybrid of Aerosmith and David Bowie at the Minnesota State Fair.
When: 9 p.m., every Thursday,
Where: Minnesota Music Cafe, 449 Payne Ave., St. Paul