The Boneyard Brass Band prides itself on the transience of its ensemble and its role within the music scene in Champaign-Urbana.
Founded in 2017, the members of the Boneyard Brass Band describe themselves as a New Orleans brass band mixed with funk and R&B. Band members Wyatt Dozier and Korrey Frichtl say Boneyard Brass is composed of high-caliber artists from across Champaign-Urbana.
“It’s nice with the University being here. You have all these really talented students that come through here,” said Dozier, the sousaphone player for the band. “I feel like we really benefit from the scene that generates as a result of that.”
The band’s sheer volume and energy fills up small rooms easily, and they can be heard at various venues throughout Champaign-Urbana, such as The Canopy Club, Rose Bowl Tavern and Friday Night Live in the summer.
Frichtl, trombonist and vocalist of the group, is optimistic that the Boneyard Brass Band will be playing at Blackbird in Urbana on April 16. He also plans to schedule more gigs at The Canopy Club.
The Boneyard Brass Band creates musical arrangements based on songs by artists such as Stevie Wonder; Earth, Wind & Fire; Prince and Snarky Puppy.
“We don’t do direct covers of all of these songs; we usually do our own arrangement of it and just put our spin on the tune,” Frichtl said.
“It’s pointless to cover something if you’re just going to try and copy it. You want to try to at least have something that is worth the price of admission,” Dozier said. “If it’s funky and we think we can put our own kind of flavor on it, then we’ll do it.”
Both Frichtl and Dozier say Champaign-Urbana is jam-packed with various artists who have transformed the area’s diverse music scene.
“They inspire me to get better,” Dozier said. “We really have the privilege to be around a lot of really good musicians.”
Frichtl described the difficulty the band sometimes has in maintaining listeners’ attention due to the fast-paced nature of the Champaign-Urbana music scene.
“With so many people going in-and-out, our audience is never the same. Our band is changing pretty frequently, so that’s a huge impact,” he said. “It does provide a little bit of a hoop to jump through in terms of trying to maintain our audience.”
Dozier emphasized the area’s unique potential for music, and he said that Champaign-Urbana has certain musicians and venues that he considers “hidden gems.”
“A lot of people tend to underestimate a town like this,” Dozier said. “We’re blessed to be in an area that has a lot more going on than a lot of people realize.”
The Boneyard Brass Band performed at the annual Great Cover Up, a charity concert, on Saturday, and Frichtl said that the audience’s excitement and vigor helped to enhance the band’s performance. The band animated the audience with an upbeat setlist, covering songs by American ska-punk band Reel Big Fish for the Great Cover Up performance.
“The more energy we bring to a performance, we see the crowd respond, and that makes us want to keep going,” Dozier said.
Audience member Stacey Peters described the Boneyard Brass Band’s performance as high-energy and playful.
“The crowd was really into it, and everybody was dancing together. It was really fun,” she said.
Throughout the band’s performance, the audience sang along and danced. As the band began performing its final song, “Take on Me,” audience members immediately swarmed to the floor in excitement.
Within Champaign-Urbana’s ever-changing music scene, the Boneyard Brass Band is in its element.
“When we’re having fun, the audiences tend to have a lot more fun with that as well. If we had any kind of mission it’s to throw a party,” Frichtl said.