Nov. 16, 2018
Mole Street Artists talks to funk band Brian Williams and The Get Back about their idea of the “perfect show” and much more.
Brian Williams and The Get Back wants you to get up and dance. With a set list inspired by Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Robert Palmer, David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, Aretha Franklin, Lynn Collins, Al Green, Sam Cooke, and Sly and the Family Stone, dancing in a room with The Get Back is second nature. Band leader and band piano player Luke O’Reilly says, “If we were to have a perfect show, everybody would be dancing and everybody would be like drenched in sweat.” O’Reilly continues, “If it’s a wedding, all the women have their heels off and their flip flops on, the guys have their ties loosened and their shirts are sweaty. Everyone is having such a good time that they’re losing themselves in the funk.” Each of the songs in The Get Back’s set list is a record you could find in a jukebox, bringing a fun homage-like dance party that can’t be replicated.
The Get Back’s unique setlist is comprised of artists who are no longer making music, like Ray Charles, Al Green and Otis Redding. In that way, The Get Back keeps some American musical history alive through their glorification of songs from a different time. O’Reilly says, “We are trying to carry on a tradition of music that is not really being played much today.” O’Reilly continues, “We switch it up, sometimes with David Bowie or Tom Petty. But it’s always in the way that we do it; in a very funky and soulful way.” The Get Back isn’t just inspired by older artists, but works to understand that funk and soul are part of a larger narrative for American culture.
O’Reilly says, “Blues came from church music and African American spirituals and from those different genres of music spawned soul music.” O’Reilly continues, “Funk is a little different, it all comes from the same thing but it’s main purpose is for people to dance, with the bass being the leading factor. Blues is one of those genres that spawned later music like R&B and soul, funk, all stemming from the African American experience”.
After graduating from Temple University, the Massachusetts-based O’Reilly stayed in Philly to play for a few different bands including The Blue Method, where O’Reilly befriended Brian Williams. Once moving on from The Blue Method, O’Reilly was ready to start his own funk and blues band with Williams at his side. Their inspiration came from Booker T. and the MGs, a group that gave instrumental back up for soul artists like Wilson Pickett and Bill Withers.
O’Reilly added components like a vocalist, horns and the bass guitar, and worked with Williams to get their ‘vibe’ just right. O’Reilly says, “We were good friends and I wanted a band where I could choose all the music. The idea was take the Mini Qs vibe, work with Brian and play the music that we like.” Since then, they’ve been keeping audiences jumping out of their seats with their live performances. The Get Back features a family of band musicians, offering a unique playing experience every single time. This is yet another detail that makes The Get Back so captivating. O’Reilly says, “It makes the music interchangeable.” O’Reilly continues, “The musicians will play the same parts but they’ll make it their own with different combinations to keep the music fun. The creativity comes out any time; when we’re in the middle of a song and the guitarist performs a solo, or a vocalist gets really into the music. That’s where our creativity comes into play. There’s nothing uptight about this band.”
The Get Back’s excellent musicians combined with their spontaneity make for a perfect party cocktail. They can be found at Mole Street events like Young Professionals Night at the Barnes Foundation or Young Friends Ball on the Square in Rittenhouse Square, with music so fun that people are dancing in gowns and black-tie. O’Reilly says, “The Rittenhouse Gala is a very nice event, and we brought our funk and soul and people really enjoyed it. It’s for a good cause, so everyone is already in a good mood. It was another event where there were a lot of people dancing and having fun. When everything goes as expected, we get to just have a good time on stage dancing with each other.”
The Get Back takes their dance vibe everywhere they go, making sure to have a great time even during rehearsal. However, nothing compares to when they get on the stage for their next gig. O’Reilly says, “I do enjoy rehearsals, they’re a lot of fun. We all love music and we get to practice at The Boom Room, but ultimately it’s the gig. Rehearsals become a hang-out for us because of our love of music and appreciation for each other. The Gig is where all of the magic comes from, that’s what we really look forward to”.
Brian Williams and The Get Back has soulful vocalists, infectious instrumentation and great songs to perform, but their secret lies in their affection for performing and one another. O’Reilly says, “It’s just good music and one special thing is that we all like each other. Brian is one of the most talented vocalists I’ve ever heard, and I think he’s the only guy in the tri-state area who can do what he does. You can hear it right away, he can sing. He can really, really, really sing. He has a big voice and a really big personality. The way he takes command on stage and the way that he takes command of the audience. The band is fun, but it’s not Brian Williams and the Get Back without Brian Williams.”
If you would like to book Brian Williams and the Get Back for your next event or to discuss additional entertainment and live music bookings in Philadelphia, contact our Talent Buyer, Sean Timmons at 215-240-8552.