Snarky Puppy is spending an unprecedented three consecutive months on the road this winter and spring supporting its brand new DVD/CD Ground Up, released officially on February 28 through its own recently launched record label, GroundUP Music (a sublabel of Ropeadope Records).
For the very first time, this tour will take the band all the way to the United Kingdom and France, as well as every major market in the United States. Always focused on music education, Snarky Puppy will be giving clinics and master classes at various educational institutions throughout the trip in addition to its scheduled concerts. Joining the group for the U.K. leg of the tour is groundbreaking London electro-pop duo the Fix.
Ground Up was filmed and recorded live over three nights in legendary bassist Matt Garrison's new performance space, Shapeshifter Lab, in front of a 40-person studio audience. Similar to the setting of their last live album/DVD, Tell Your Friends (Ropeadope Records, 2010), the new project captures the rawness and spontaneity of Snarky Puppy's live energy, but this time in a stripped-down Brooklyn warehouse.
The film also features the addition of behind-the-scenes touring footage amassed over the band's last two years of shows, offering a peek into the world of a traveling grassroots ensemble.
With the release of their last two live CD/DVDs on Ropeadope Records and GroundUP Music, Snarky Puppy has gone from an underground secret to one of the most internationally respected names in instrumental music.
The three-time Dallas Observer Music Award–winning group (Best Jazz Act 2008, 2009, 2010) has, over the last four years of touring, gained a reputation for putting on a live show unparalleled in energy, virtuosity, and musicianship. They seamlessly fuse a deep knowledge and respect for musical tradition with sonic and conceptual innovation in a way that is able to reach the most critical or the most carefree audience.
It is, in its physical makeup, a group of musicians from two different cultures and traditions—jazz and rock kids from white America and gospel/R&B kids from black America. This convergence, which occurred while the band was in its adolescence at the University of North Texas, has naturally established a series of combinations and a system of balance that instantly draws listeners to the music—raw funk and sensitive dynamics, relentless pocket and lyrical melodicism, lush harmony and soulful simplicity, and most importantly, a delicate mixture of composition and improvisation.
Snarky Puppy is somewhere between a garage band and a collective, with over 25 players in regular rotation. The core of the group, which remains consistent, features Grammy Award–winners Robert "Sput" Searight on drums (God's Property, Snoop Dogg) and Shaun Martin on keys (Kirk Franklin, Erykah Badu), as well as young organ prodigy Cory Henry (Kenny Garrett, Kim Burell) and multi-instrumentalist Louis Cato (Marcus Miller, Q-Tip, George Duke). Its members are mainstays with artists like Erykah Badu, Marcus Miller, P Diddy Dirty Money, the Polyphonic Spree, Snoop Dogg, Roy Hargrove's RH Factor, Morcheeba, Tower of Power, Ari Hoenig/Adam Rogers, Justin Timberlake, Kenny Garrett, Yo-Yo Ma, Lucy Woodward, and Bilal, among many more.
The group was conceived and is held together by award-winning bassist, guitarist, composer, and arranger Michael League, whose creative grassroots approach to a tougher-than-ever industry has created a unique musical animal. It is a three-headed creature: first, and most obviously, an original music ensemble. Second, a production team and session band for individual artists. Third, and probably most importantly, a group of musicians unanimously and enthusiastically committed to music education and community outreach. Working with groups like ROAM (Roots of American Music) in inner-city Cleveland and the Music Lab at Jefferson Center in Roanoke, as well as giving clinics at over 40 colleges, high schools, and middle schools worldwide (League is faculty at London's Institute of Contemporary Music Performance), the band has made a strong commitment to spreading a love of music and general positivity to a young generation looking for something real to hold on to.
Snarky Puppy is spending 2012 promoting its new, live in-studio CD/DVD (released in February) and League's new record label, GroundUP Music (in conjunction with Ropeadope Records) with tours across the United States, Canada, and Europe.