Family Groove Company
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Family Groove Company

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The best kept secret in music


"Get your groove on: Family Groove Company heads to St. Louis"

Admittedly, the fact that a band has a woman bass player is not enough of a reason to abandon the ship of rationale and love the band. It helps when the rest of the band is as tight as she is, and when the overall effect is one of thumping rhythms and delectable melodic hooks that leap offstage. Enter the Family Groove Company.

FGC makes up for the immediate setback of having the word "groove" in their band name by making good on their claim. The word itself has been overused to the point that it loses meaning, but FGC is committed to resurrecting the true nature of groove, and its roots in jazz, funk, and soul. Of course, they're four white folks from Cali, which also seems like it should be an obstacle, but after cursory listens to the range of material they offer up on their website, I'm happy to report that FGC has the white funk market cornered.

In what could be called an extremely savvy move by a jam-oriented band, FGC got their start in California, and after honing their fan base there, moved to Chicago, the pulse of the Midwest. They have toured successfully across the country, most recently in Colorado. If you can please those Rocky Mountain heads, you're sure to gain a dread-locked following almost anywhere.

Their description of their sound lodges them firmly between the alternate universes of James Brown, Herbie Hancock, and the Beatles. As odd as that may look in print, it translates better than babelfish on stage. And be sure to look for Janis the bassist. She obviously had cool parents.

The Family Groove Company opens for the Gamble Brothers Band (a group I know nothing about and therefore can't vouch for) next Thursday, May 1, at Cicero's. FGC will probably take the stage around 9:30 and tickets as usual are an economical $6.

- Student Life

"Family Groove Company's debut 'Reachin' for the sky"

Deftly mixing elements of blues, jazz and rock with intricate arrangements and free-formed improvisational jamming, Chicago-based quartet Family Groove Company shines on its infectious debut "Reachin."

After logging months of touring in L.A. clubs, Family Groove Company entered a recording studio in midsummer and emerged with the genre-bending, funky "Reachin."

Branding Family Groove Company with one particular label would only serve to cheat the musicians, as the band's sound weaves effortlessly through stylistic changes during the course of any given song.

The album's opener, "Agenda" is a skittering piano groove which changes courses and speeds at a moment's notice, with a jamming midsection over which funky guitar licks bubble atop the song's dense gyrations. Likewise, the slicing, guitar-driven funk of "Just Like I Planned" is tinged with droning organ and bluesy, musing lyrics which all serve to coalesce in a rhythm tight enough to make James Brown proud.

Bass-driven numbers like "Christy," with its thumping bass line walking seamlessly through a churning groove, complemented by Family Groove Company's drum-tight rhythm section, seem to characterize the band's style well. Similarly, on "Flowers for Gisa," bassist Janis Wallin drives a song which builds and recedes along side harmonized falsetto vocals.

Even on poppier numbers like "I'd Sing," Family Groove Company builds a hooky foundation on which Wallin and guitarist Adam Lewis are free to trade licks, continually building upon the song's solid foundation. Possibly the best examples of the band's pop sensibilities however is the piano-laden "Interesting Changes" which is as "poppy" as an intricately arranged, seven minute opus can get.

With the bluesy, jazz-inflected "One's On the Way," the band crafts a stutter-stepping groove which allows each band member to shine.

The album's closing track, the at once both trippy and jazzy, almost haunting, "The Rattler" stands as the best testament on "Reachin" to the band's ability to play with incredibly high musicality while still crafting catchy tunes. With its free-formed feel and one of the album's best guitar licks taking center stage, "The Rattler" sounds akin to an acid-tinged church hymn at times while rollicking with unbridled funk at others.

As a whole, Family Groove Company is an incredibly tight band with immense musical talent. With an unfaltering rhythm section driving time and tempo changes and guitar and piano floating effortlessly above the din, "Reachin" is a stellar debut record.

The only question is whether the band's amorphous sound can appeal as much with record labels as it can with audiences.

"Reachin" is available through the group's web site at
- Daily Eastern News

"Review of "Reachin'""

I like jazz. That should be stated before anything else is said, simply because Family Groove Company are jazz, and jazz doesn't go over well with everyone. In fact, it's completely possible that someone else may have dismissed this album altogether -- but not likely. That's because FGC are so good at what they do, I think even hardcore metal and rap fans can find something to listen to here, and if they can't, I'd say it's their loss.

It's actually unfair to call FGC simply jazz, because in truth they're more of a funk rock band with near-gospel overtones, but the end result is a sound more emblematic of improvised jazz than traditional funk. From the opening of "Agenda", which sounds a little like Vince Guaraldi leading a few P-Funk All-Stars, I knew I was in good hands. For a four-piece, FGC sound remarkably full and energetic, whether on panoramic feel-good anecdotes like "Christy" or the Manhattan Transfer-esque cool new age vibe of "Flowers For Gisa". The variety of approaches covered on Reachin are numerous and colorful, and they all hit their mark. Really, it's been a while since I heard an album with this many "long" songs (by my calculations, anything over five minutes is a long song and eight of the ten tracks here are at least that) that didn't make me want to check the time remaining on the disc. It might help that the listening sessions were broken up over a period of days, but the ability to keep my attention hours or even days after I've last heard an album speaks volumes about its punch, especially when you hear as many albums a month as I do.

The members of the band are no slouches when it comes to their craft, which probably explains not only the disc's diversity but its smooth professionalism. Individually they've won numerous awards, attained a degree in music from the University of Iowa and held the position of Musical Director of the Swedish Army Drum Corps. Not that I think "funk" when I think "Sweden", but I think you can see where I'm coming from when I say their diversity leads to some surprisingly captivating sounds. This is no garage band DIY; this is studied, concentrated musical theory at work, balanced by some inspired jamming and a true love of what they do, clearly evident throughout Reachin.

- Splendid Ezine

"Family Groove Company Reachin'"

The Windy City is now into the groove courtesy of Chicago’s Family Groove Company. Family Groove, which is comprised of Adam Lewis, Janis Wallin, Mattias Blanck and Jordan Wilkow, is the funky quartet, who has just released their debut CD, titled Reachin’. I believe that Reachin’ is an apt title as this CD, as Family Groove are definitely reaching to bring together various genres of music like its never been heard before.

Family Groove’s origin is not in Chicago but rather on the West Coast. The quartet was all studying music in California, when they decided to form a group and hit the Los Angeles music scene. Adam Lewis, who was the 2001 Outstanding Recording Artist of Musicians Institute is the guitarist of the group and hails from Chicago. Janis Wallin, the bassist, comes from PA, and was also an Outstanding Bassist for Musicians Institute. Mattias Blanck, from Helsingborg, Sweden provides the percussion and was the Musical Director of the Swedish Army Drum Corps. Lastly, Jordan Wilkow, who comes from Chicago, provides the lead vocals and all keyboards for the group. What makes Family Groove so enticing to me is the fact that they used their varying backgrounds as a tool of expressing themselves through the myriad of genres of music that they perform. Moreover, their constant tour schedule across the U.S is a reason why you can hear the strong chemistry within the band. I respect a band that understands that live performance is paramount to a band’s success. Family Groove’s spoils from the grind of live performances can be eloquently heard throughout Reachin’.

Family Groove defines their sound as groove rock, a mix of rock, funk, jazz and blues. Is it ironic that each member brings a different facet to the group? Adam brings that rock feel to his guitar riffs. Janis, who is my favorite in the group, brings the funk foundation with her extraordinary bass lines. Mattias keeps the group in time with his percussion with beats that sound right out of a jazz club. Jordan, the voice of the group, makes it evident that he listened to all types of music growing up, brings it all home with his strong vocal undertones of R&B and soul that is meshed with his magnificent handiwork on the keyboards.

Reachin’ is a CD that I have really enjoyed. These are some very talented musicians that came together to do an attractive 10-track debut. From the opening track of "Agenda" to the instrumental closer "The Rattler,” you soon realize that you are about to get on a musical roller coaster that your ears will not want to get off. "Agenda" really showcases Jordan’s keyboarding skills, as he attacks the keys with the fervor that rivals Herbie Hancock. I really like the tempo transitions that "Agenda" goes through. Another selection that stood out to me was "Christy" that starts out to be an up-tempo number that smoothly ends with a blues flavor. My favorite track, " Flowers For Gisa" shines the spotlight on the bassist Janis Wallin. It was very interesting to hear the tug of war between Janis’s lush bass lines and Jordan’s jazzy chord progressions on the keys. Family Groove’s last track "The Rattler" reminds me of The Funk Brothers’ "The Flick.” This rising instrumental affords Janis, Jordan, Adam and Mattias the opportunity to showcase what all those live performances have given them—strong chemistry and a band that is Reachin’ for musical stardom.


"Getting to know the Groove Company"

Family Groove Company doesn't play their instruments – they are their instruments. They're the most talented least recognized band you're not listening to. - The Fairfield Mirror

" review"

An ever-present Beatles influence collides with the jamband approach.  Surprisingly charming. -

" review"

Family Groove Company is a lyrically inspired and compositional minded quartet with a formula that will get you on the dance floor. -

"Live show review"

Family Groove Company provided (as their name would suggest) a steady groove to keep your feet movin'. I expect to hear more from these guys soon, as they prove to be capable of bending genres to suit their needs. Be it jazz, funk, jam, rock or a catchy pop song, FGC has all the bases covered and the heart to keep them moving forward. -




Feeling a bit camera shy


Family Groove Company is a four piece band whose sound lies somewhere between Herbie Hancock's Headhunters and the Beatles, with a little bit of Steely Dan thrown in. FGC has been based out of Chicago since October ‘02, and in that time the band has played well over 100 shows in 14 different states, including three major tours, two West to Colorado and one through the East Coast. In between longer trips, FGC constantly tours through the Midwest, hitting most college towns and major markets.

In addition to their vigorous touring schedule, FGC utilizes many other outlets to spread the word about their music. The band regularly receives exposure and/or advertises on, Relix Magazine, and, and their debut album Reachin’ is being played on dozens of radio stations across the country. Family Groove Company is also supported by a nationwide street team that relentlessly spreads the word about the band at concerts, on the web, and through CD trading.

The Music: Family Groove Company integrates the groove sensibility developed by James Brown and Herbie Hancock, with the more traditional song structure and consciousness of the hook revolutionized by the Beatles. FGC proudly avoids the ubiquitous jamband formula of the hip-hop/funk/rock groove combined with endless guitar solos, and has managed to supplement its passion for improvisation with a fierce attentiveness to composition. As far as Family Groove Company is concerned, compositional coherence and ingenuity are every bit as important as the "jam" that has come to be the namesake of their genre. Rich vocal harmonies and a passionate dedication to improvisation are the threads that tie it all together, creating a sound that captivates audiences ranging from the most casual music fan to the most critical musician.

The Band: Family Groove Company burst on the Los Angeles music scene in January 2001, when guitarist Adam Lewis and keyboardist Jordan Wilkow met bassist Janis Wallin and drummer Mattias Blanck while studying music in California. The chemistry between the four musicians was felt instantly, and it wasn't long before they recorded their first demo and began performing throughout Southern California. Tours of the entire West coast followed shortly thereafter, with regular appearances in such cities as San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, and Portland. Later, in spring 2002, having developed over three hours of original material, the band decided it was time to hit the studio for real. The result was their newly released 10-track debut album, Reachin'. Family Groove Company is tremendously proud of their latest effort, as the album provides an intriguing insight into the band's unique voice, and really does sound fantastic. Truly, the sonic thrill one experiences with the album is exceeded only by the intensity of their live performances. Finally, in summer 2002, with a hot new album and a solid West coast fan base, Family Groove Company decided to relocate to Chicago, taking advantage of its central location to reach audiences that span both coasts.
Since arriving in Chicago, FGC has pursued a rigorous touring schedule and is making significant waves within the underground market that has come to be known as the "jamband" scene. The band has developed a grass roots promotional network that is quickly spreading their music across the country, planting the seeds for a thriving fanbase in towns the band has not yet even visited. FGC is no doubt a noteworthy example of the drastic changes that have occurred in the world of independent music.