Jazz group Snarky Puppy feeds off online audience

Band will perform for JazzLives
The band has as many as 25 members who rotate in to perform. Usually seven to 10 play together at one time.



Something magical happened for the band Snarky Puppy in 2010.

“YouTube is our most valuable asset period,” said Michael League, the award-winning bassist/guitarist/composer/arranger who conceived the jazz band, which fuses the sounds of jazz, R&B, funk, gospel and alternative rock into one.

From 2006 to 2010, the band had recorded three albums and tended to play the same cities where it had developed a fan base. When the band’s music from its fourth album, Tell Your Friends, hit YouTube, however, that all changed.

“We started getting emails from Singapore, England, the Philippines, and there was no reason to have heard of us except YouTube,” he said.

If you haven’t heard of Snarky Puppy, you’ll have your chance Sunday, April 21, when the group will close out the JazzLives event, which will also feature an open jam with area musicians and visual artists interpreting the music.

JazzLives will begin at 7 p.m. at Julian Smith Casino. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors and military and are available online at azzlives.bpt.me.

There are about 25 members of Snarky Puppy; however, usually seven to 10 play at one time. All of them are soloists in their own right or play with other bands. All but about two have musical degrees, and each brings a distinct flavor to the music, League said.

Formed in Texas, Snarky Puppy’s musicians have different backgrounds and come together to create the sound. League said some of the members were white suburbanites who were into alternative rock and then discovered jazz; other members grew up in black churches and had gospel music infused into their souls. They played instruments in their churches when they were as young as 5 and 6 years old.

Those two distinct
backgrounds blend together to form Snarky Puppy’s sound.

Karen Gordon of Garden City Jazz, who coordinated Snarky Puppy’s visit to Augusta said she’d never heard of the band until she started talking to students at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. They’d discovered the band on YouTube and loved the sound. Their input led to her working to bring the band to Augusta, and that doesn’t surprise League at all.

“Eighty to 90 percent of our gigs are basically because of fans who convinced someone to bring us to town,” said League.

League said band members are looking forward to their Augusta debut.

“Augusta’s the home of James Brown, and it freaks us out to be coming there,” he said.


WHAT: JazzLives, an open jam session with area musicians and visual artists interpreting the music; special guests Snarky Puppy

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, April 21

WHERE: Julian Smith Casino

TICKETS: $15 adults, $10 students, seniors and military; available online at jazzlives.bpt.me