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JC Brooks to take uptown sound to downtown Columbus

Courtesy of Bloodshot Records

Many bands only get to meet their idols. JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound got to perform with one.

The Chicago soul band is set to perform at The Basement at 9 p.m. on Friday to celebrate their most recent release, “Want More.”

The band, however, is still celebrating something that happened in January.

Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer of Wilco, saw the Uptown Sound’s rendition of Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” online and asked to play with the band at a benefit for Chicago’s mayor-elect, Rahm Emanuel.

“It’s very flattering, just that he likes what we’ve done with the song,” said Ben Taylor, the Uptown Sound’s bassist.

The band originally decided to cover the Wilco tune as a goof, but ended up really liking it after rearranging it, Taylor said.

“It’s nothing we would have ever considered recording in its original form,” Taylor said. “It think (the original is) very iconic and it’s very dear to a lot of people’s hearts.”

The song had a strong influence on Taylor.

“I remember the first time I heard the song, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up,” he said. “It just seems (like) something very special that you don’t need to mess with.”

But when inspiration strikes, musicians take it. The band changed the tune to their liking and performed it live, which was caught on camera and put on the Internet.

Wilco’s Pat Sansone ran into the band and told them Tweedy and the rest of the band loved their rendition.

“That just kind of blew our minds that we were able to meet our heroes and they were aware of what we were doing,” Taylor said.

What JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound was doing was taking elements from past soul musicians and creating a sound unlike any that’s ever been made, Taylor said.

“It seems like the other groups that are out there are just trying to recreate something that happened 40 years ago,” he said.

While the band likes to take elements from artists such as Otis Redding and James Brown, Taylor pointedly said, “We’re not living in the civil rights era. There are other things going on in the world.”

Though they try not to sound like past musicians, some Ohio State students believe that’s where they would be more successful.

“I don’t know if (they) have enough for a more modern crowd. I don’t know if they’re going to have enough people following it,” said Shawn Robertson, a first-year in psychology.

Emily Ernst, a first-year in animal science, agreed with Robertson, adding that Brooks sounds a lot like James Brown.

While not particularly a fan of the band herself, Ernst said, “If it (the band) happened to be on the radio, I would listen to (it).”

For the Uptown Sound, finding its sound is something the band is still striving to achieve.

“We want to keep pushing forward to find … what that (our true sound) really is,” Taylor said.

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