The growing sound of a capacity crowd found its way up the stairs behind the stage, and through the sliding wooden door of the green room. The buzzing muffled bass of the house music added to the excited energy of the band members. It was Friday night, April 20th, but more significantly it was night one of three. Turkuaz was just minutes away from lighting the powder keg. A full weekend in front of a hometown crowd on what one could call the nine-piece power-funk band’s home field. For the first time in 2 years (and 21 days, to be exact), Turkuaz was back at Brooklyn Bowl!

“We are each our own color individually, but together we make up something more…” Dave Brandwein (guitar, vocals, and the color blue) of the band Turkuaz, explained, ”… That’s what we are as a band. Everyone has the freedom to be themselves as musicians. The idea is to make that all come together. That’s what Turkuaz is.”

Sammi Garett (vocals and the color pink) adds, “We didn’t pick our colors as much as they picked us…” she is staring into a bathroom mirror with her bright pink hair wrapped around a curling iron, “…I couldn’t be anything other than pink. Each of our colors fits who we are as people.”

The relationship between this band and this venue runs deep. In 2010 Williamsburg’s newest live music venue and bowling alley, Brooklyn Bowl, was just opening its doors to the public. It would only be a few short months before Turkuaz would find themselves on that stage for the first time.

The band was mostly playing smaller venues in and around New York back then. “We were lucky enough to play here very early on. Like when it first opened and we were just getting started… We opened for The Dirty Dozen Brass Band,” Josh Schwartz (baritone sax, vocals, and the color purple) reminisced while steaming the wrinkles out of his purple pants. He stood next to the wardrobe rack. Each outfit hung with the appropriate band member’s name tag pinned to it.

A lot has changed for the band between the early years and now. They find themselves touring the country some 150 to 200 days out of the year. They have played in front of massive crowds at outdoor summer music festivals like Bonnaroo, and in iconic arenas like Madison Square Garden during The Knicks halftime show. They have shared bills with funk legend George Clinton.

Two nights later, on Sunday, April 22nd, they would share the stage with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Denny Laine (Wings, The Moody Blues). Laine was an absolutely perfect addition to the band’s Sunday night tribute set, something they have become known for over the years. This latest tribute, “Turkuaz gives you Wings”, was the furthest removed from the group’s core sound thus far. It showed signs of range, growth, and confidence as a unit, in addition to trust between the band and its fans.

Laine gave his take on the set to a few of the band members after the show. “You guys were great! You do the songs justice, but you aren’t playing note for note… I really like that you have the girls singing lead on some of the songs. They sound really good with the girls on lead… We’re gonna have to do this again sometime.” [Note: Denny Laine is scheduled to join the band for another “Turkuaz Gives You Wings” late-night show during Jazz Fest next month].

With all these milestones reached and the massive amount of experience collected by the band over the years, something still seemed to stand out about this hometown run they were about to embark on. “Yeah, this is definitely different. First of all, I got to go home and shower after sound check.” Chris Brouwers (trumpet, keyboards, and the color black) is a nearby resident and shared some of the luxuries of playing three consecutive nights in his own backyard. “Usually, we kind of all just sit around the green room, and maybe you get a nap in or something… it’s nice to be so close. I can just go home after this.”

Taylor Shell (bass, and the color orange) was enjoying the perks of being in his hometown too. “It’s funny, I just realized earlier today that I have my punch card from the coffee shop I like to go to. By the end of the weekend, I’ll get a free cup.” Greg Sanderson (tenor sax, the color red) added, “Usually we come here when we are off tour. So yeah, you have to kind of remember that we are working this time. We have a lot of friends and family here. It’s easy to get distracted.”

As crew members ran equipment in and out of the room and called out the remaining minutes to show time, the scene in the green room began to draw parallels to what most of their fans’ nights probably looked like. Each Turkuaz member had their own preparation to go through for the “big night on the town”. A multitude of backpacks, makeup bags, shoes, belts, and jackets were all scattered throughout the small room. Home or not, the nine of them would be sharing this space for the next three days. Locating missing socks and headphones became last-minute priorities. Shira Elias (vocals, and the color yellow) and Sammi are in and out of the bathroom helping each other come up with the look of the night. Meanwhile, the guys wrestled with the need to put on the appropriate colored socks and wonder “if this jacket looks dumb.” Standard preparation for a big night out with a group of friends. We have all been in a room like that.

Almost everyone in the band had family members in attendance over the weekend, and what would a proud mom and dad be without their kid’s band shirt on? You better believe they were dancing just as hard as anyone else each night. For the members of the band, having family and close friends in attendance can bring up different emotions. Some find that it becomes more important to perform the absolute best they can. Others feel that seeing them, out in the sea of faces, simply makes it more special. However, every one of them agreed that it’s easy to get in your own head or caught up in your own expectations. “It’s our job to perform…” Michelangelo Carubba (drums, and the color green) said, “…even if something doesn’t go right, you have to fake a smile. It can be contagious. It can affect the rest of the band.”

One-by-one, the green room began to empty and the group began to assemble at the bottom of the steps behind the stage curtain. The house lights are down. The crowd is letting the band know they are there–and make no mistake, they are ready. “New York is a different beast…” explains Carubba “… you really have to come with something special to grab their attention. … They want more, but they give more. And if you really bang out a show here, its epic.” He added, “People are here [this weekend] to see Turkuaz. I feel like I owe them… ultimately, whether or not we are successful this run or is up to them.”

The lights came up. One-by-one, the band emerged out from the backstage darkness and were met by the deafening roar of a completely full room in New York City. It was Friday, April 20th, but more significantly, it was night one. Turkuaz was home.

All photos via Chris Capaci/Capacity Images. Check out a full gallery of photos from Turkuaz’s three-night Brooklyn run below.

Turkuaz fans heading to New Orleans for Jazz Fest have plenty to look forward to on Live For Live Music’s Fest At Night lineup, including Z-Funk: A Tribute To Led Zeppelin and P-Funk on 4/29 at Maison featuring Michelangelo Carubba and Shira EliasF*ck 2017: A Tribute To Those We Lost at One Eyed Jacks featuring Carubba, Elias, Craig Brodhead, the Turkuaz Horns, and more; and Purple Party: A Tribute To Prince. See below for a full list of shows.

***Grab your Live For Live Music Fest At Night tickets here!***