Known for their fiery live shows, Con Brio is a living, evolving testament to the power of soul. Fronted by 21-year-old phenom Ziek McCarter — a charismatic, undeniably gifted showman whose stage presence calls to mind the magnetism of a young Michael Jackson or James Brown — the band’s sound traces a clear lineage from the dirty funk, blues, and psychedelic legacy of Bay Area legends like Sly and the Family Stone, with a nod toward ‘90s neo-soul trailblazers like D’Angelo, but with an eye to the future: A drive for experimentation, for pushing their high technical ability higher, for reaching beyond the familiar — approaching a deep R&B groove, a hard-rock guitar solo, or the warm peal of a Hammond organ with an ambitious, progressive sensibility.
All of which is to say: They throw one hell of a dance party.
Named for a musical direction meaning “with spirit,” Con Brio has been packing Bay Area venues since 2009 — from the storied Cafe du Nord to Great American Music Hall to The Independent, as well as clubs across the country during their first national tour in 2012. Thanks to a legion of super dedicated fans (who reliably show up to tear the house down at every available opportunity), the band has shared stages with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Meshell Ndegeocello, and opened for the venerable Trombone Shorty at the Fillmore.
In 2013, rebuilding after a lineup change, the longstanding rhythm section of keyboardist Micah Dubreuil, bassist Jonathan Kirchner and drummer Andrew Laubacher went looking for a new singer and stumbled upon McCarter: A Texas transplant who had begun drawing crowds at Madrone Art Bar as a 19-year-old by crashing their weekly Tuesday night funk jam to do Stevie Wonder covers. Add in the electric guitar fireworks of effortless powerhouse Benjamin Andrews and a classic trumpet and tenor sax horn section culled from the best players in the Bay, and the resulting dynamic fuses the skill and confidence that comes from years of stage time and longstanding musical partnerships with the thirst and energy of a rising star — a bright light who’s just getting started.