Formed in 2004 by bassist Michael League, Snarky Puppy has grown tremendously from a secret of a bunch of kids at the University of North Texas into the powerhouses they are today. Although still “underground” in many respects, the band has earned high praise from critical stalwarts like the BBC, Village Voice, Guardian, and Boston Herald. Members of Snarky Puppy have played with many big names in jazz and popular music, including Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, Chaka Khan, Morcheeba, Kirk Franklin, Beyonce, Wayne Krantz, Ari Hoenig, Adam Rogers, Patti Austin, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Jason Marsalis, John Ellis, Noisettes, Dave Brubeck, and countless more. Two of the band’s members have even won Grammys for their work (drummer Robert "Sput" and keyboardist Shaun Martin).
While making names for themselves with these giants of the scene, Snarky Puppy still manages to play great music together, and this record is no different. The album is so rich with thick melodies and heavy beats that after hearing this album and watching the dvd there’s little else you can do but get up and dance. Like the bands motto, the music is “for your brain and booty.” Michael League’s bass lines interweave through the hard hitting playing of the horn section with all the fluidity and precision of the masters of jazz and funk. Robert “Sput” Searight’s drumming is unrivaled in technical prowess and ability to know just what to do at just the right moment, and Chris McQueen’s guitar playing is sure to melt off the face of any listener. To put it simply : this album will rock you to your core.
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 most carefree- audience. The convergence of musicians from white and black America, which occurred while the band was in its adolescence at the University of North Texas, has naturally established 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.
The band has always used live performance as its chief form of evangelism. Indeed, like their previous album (“Tell Your Friends”), "Family Dinner Vol.1" is not just an album. It’s a hybrid of a live dvd and cd that just happen to take place in a one-take, leave no prisoners run in a recording studio. League comments on this strange album and dvd concept by saying, “After kicking out three studio albums, I’ve been pestered by numerous people in numerous towns about making a live record. My response has always been that I don’t like the sound of live records. I was speaking with Sput about it one night on tour and said (in an attempt to be ironic) that the only place I’d want to make a live album is in a recording studio. We looked at each other, and both laughed. I immediately started planning it.”
Snarky Puppy also maintains a more intense tour schedule than almost any band in the idiom. Over the course of 2013, Snarky Puppy will give almost 200 performances and workshops on four continents, including North Sea Jazz, Monterey Jazz Festival, Jazz á Vienne, Blue Note Tokyo, and the Melbourne International Jazz Festival. Their last album, the live DVD/CD “GroundUP,” reached #14 on the Billboard Jazz Charts and #3 on the ITunes Jazz Charts in 2012, topped only by Grammy winners Robert Glasper and Esperanza Spalding.
To put it in a nutshell, their creative grass-roots approach to a tougher-than-ever industry has created a new model for independent artists. Snarky Puppy 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- Snarky Puppy is a group of musicians 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 hundreds of colleges, high schools, and middle schools worldwide, the band has made a strong commitment to spreading their love of music and general positivity to a young generation looking for something real to be inspired by.