Lights Down Low
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Lights Down Low

Band Jazz Funk


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"The name was always subject to change"

Posted December 15 2006

After months of brainstorming, the guys in the group formerly known as Subject to Change came up with a different name. Their pick -- Lights Down Low -- was unveiled this fall.

But that's about all that's new for the band, comprised of Chip Gardner on keyboards; Leo Boland on guitar; Bob Smiley on saxophone; Mike Camel on bass; and drummer Michael Cupino. The guys are still putting out their all-instrumental combination of jazz and funk, with jam band elements.

Performing together for the past year, the members initially called themselves Subject to Change as kind of a joke, Gardner said.

"It was always meant to be temporary," he said.

Booking and getting a foothold in the local music scene wasn't so funny, however. People would call venues, hear Subject to Change and think another band was coming in, Gardner said.

"Trying to promote that name, it didn't work," Gardner said.

The band adopted their present moniker from a friend's suggestion to "turn the lights down low and think about it," Gardner said.

Moving on, the guys are continuing to perform and compose tunes. Their influences are many, including Herbie Hancock, Frank Zappa and Medeski, Martin and Wood.

A calendar of the band's upcoming shows can be found at

One of their regular spots is Dada, at 52 Swinton Ave., in Delray Beach. The Broward County group will play at the restaurant-lounge at 11 p.m. on Dec. 22 and Jan. 5.

For more information call 561-330-3232, or visit

-- Beth Feinstein-Bartl - Sun-Sentinel


By Eric W. Saeger
Published: December 27, 2007

Something jazzy this way comes Friday night at Tobacco Road. Fort Lauderdale's Lights Down Low offers a breezy vibe, a stylistic combination of Spiro Gyra and Pat Metheny. The band has hit The Road before, playing upstairs, and keyboardist Chip Gardner had a great time. "The sound guy, Cosmo, is really good. We dug it. The place has a built-in audience, you know?"

The lads have a self-released album due out in '08, preliminary mixes of which are up on their MySpace page ( There's no title yet. "We're still tricking it out right now. All the editing and mixing is being done at a local studio, Stall 3."

The five-piece is held in place by the daring but vise-tight drumming of Mike Cupino, cofounder of the band alongside Gardner. The two have played together off and on for more than eight years. "Mike moved to the area for audio school — SAE — and I came down to record. After jamming around, we decided to start a band," Gardner says.

That very band is busily trying to carve a niche in the Lauderdale jazz scene, which Gardner thinks is a bit anemic. "There are a few places we like to play, but for the most part we travel north or south. We play Mangos on Las Olas Boulevard every Tuesday night. We also like Dive Bar and Alligator Alley."

LDL's list of influences is all over the map, with more than a few unexpected turns: "Curtis Mayfield, the Meters, Stevie Wonder, Grateful Dead, Chris Potter, Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Beck, and a bunch of obscure artists," says Gardner. Aside from Tobacco Road, the band has also played in Miami at Bullfrog Eatz, The District, and Jazid.

Lights Down Low and the Pat DeLeon Trio perform Friday, December 28, at Tobacco Road, 626 S Miami Ave, Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m., and admission is free. Those 21 and older are welcome with ID. Call 305-374-1198, or visit
Subject(s): Lights Down Low, Tobacco Road, Miami

- Miami New Times


- coming soon -



Lights Down Low fuses jazz, funk, R&B, and soul to create instrumental grooves that make audiences move. The members of Lights Down Low share influences from around the universe... Stevie, Ray Charles, MMW, Beck, Phish, and all the new form DJs like Grayboy, Shadow, and RJD2. No matter who you are, there will something for you at a Lights Down Low show.

Charles "Chip Hustle" Gardner - Keyboardist, all around Funkyman.

Chip was born and raised in Chapel Hill NC. The son of an opera singer, musical expression has always been an aspect of his personality. However, aside from middle school chorus, drama, and choir, he would have to wait until college to find his true musical calling: the piano. Since attending East Carolina University in 1998, Chip has never looked backed. In 1999 he met Mike Cupino through a mutual a friend. Two years later, Chip would move to Charlotte, and the two have been creating and developing ever since.

1992-1994 North Carolina Boys Choir
1999-2002 Hat Trick
2002-2003 Natural Chemistry
2002-2003 Pianist, South Tryon Methodist Church
2002-2003 The Young Professionals
2003-2004 Dangerous Juan
2004-2007 Subject to Change -> Lights Down Low

Chip's musical influences span a vast range from Frank Zappa to Radiohead, Stevie Wonder to Medeski,Martin&Wood, Phish to Herbie Hancock.


Mike Camel - Cellist, Bassist

Camel, as he is known in many circles, grew up in Tamarac, FL, the youngest of 5 kids. His classical beginnings had him starting Cello at the age of 9. Several teachers and mentors later, Mike attended Florida State University on full musical scholarship in 1999. At this point, all of the music he studied and wrote was in the Classical milieu, but by the time he left college, Mike would try his hand at all types. He joined several bands in the years to follow, ranging from Heavy Metal to Country: consistently on the cello. In 2002 he finally acquired his on electric bass - an instrument he had used before but never thoroughly explored. Though the format of the instrument was quite different, Mike's many years of adept string work, and finger training, enabled him to teach himself the bass in record time, and thereby develop his own style.

On an invitation from a friend of the band, Mike met and jammed with Chip and the other Mike in 2002. South Florida has never been the same.

Mike draws his musical inspiration from the classic and neo-classic jam bands: The Grateful Dead, Phish, Lake Trout


Mike Cupino - Drummer, Percussionist, Engineer, encyclopedia of the mundane. All around weirdo and man of mystery. Likes to hit things with sticks.


Leo Boland - Guitarist. Violist, Rockstar.

Leo's history with performing purveys the gamut of eclectic stylings including Punk Rock, classical, New Wave and Hip-Hop. He began playing the guitar at the tender age of ... until sybling rivalary took its toll on his poor, innocent, starter 6 string. Eventually he would be introduced to the viola, which he would study for many years at... Still, deep in his heart he longed for the comfort he loved as a child and found his passion once again for the guitar. This passion has lead him to many fortuitus opportunities with the many bands he's played and friends he has grown with.

Leo joined the band after playing a few jams with Chip and Mike in 2004.


Bob Smiley - Saxophonist, Flutist

Bob is a veritable icon on the South Florida live music scene. Born in Stuart FL in 1981, Bob eventually moved to ... with his family. He picked up the sax at age 12 and still refuses to put it down. School bands, garage bands with friends, jamming out with his brother Dave on trombone, his calling was inevitable. IN 19xx he attended the FIU music program, where he was mentored and trained under musical greats Gary Campbell, Chip McNeil and Jose Valerio. His past with his horn is deep and expansive. Its brought him to play Carnegie Hall and tour Costa Rica; to hit enumerable stages with the many bands he's fronted or sectioned. And now its brought him to Lights Down Low.