The Brand New Life
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The Brand New Life

Greensboro, North Carolina, United States

Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
Band World Funk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Options abound for your New Year's Eve listening"

Your best bet, however, may be eight-piece party pack THE BRAND NEW LIFE, whose intoxicating, horn-led exultations take a kaleidoscopic view of jazz dosed with Afrobeat and other world influences. Look for them at THE STATION AT SOUTHERN RAIL. - The Independent Weekly

"The most exciting jazz fusion band in Greensboro"

Anyone who doesn't think Greensboro has much to offer culturally has not been paying attention. This was readily apparent this past Friday at the Maya Art Gallery (on Tate Street) when there was a show that can only be described as beautifully organized mayhem. Although Sam Martin's project The Three Brained Robot was slated to appear, things were rearranged until the evening turned into a jam session with The Brand New Life, a relatively new fusion jazz septet based out of Greensboro with roots in Chapel Hill and Asheville.

The show began with a funky groove session serenading the father of Jared Mankoff - the lead vocalist and tuba player - who was celebrating his 60th birthday. The lineup consisted of Casey Cranford and Walter Fancourt on saxophone, Ben Rayle on electric guitar, Seth Barden on the upright bass, Evan Frierson on congas, and Daniel Yount on drums. This was essentially the lineup throughout the night, except Walter Fancourt occasionally played the flute and Jared Mankoff often played whatever he fancied, mainly focusing on the tuba, a talking drum, and a tape recorder wired to play interesting sounds.

Where most jazz septets focus on some specific genre of jazz, it was clear from early on that each of the seven musicians had their own ideas and influences about how to play their specific instruments. While this should have led to an absolute disaster, they were all extremely talented and knowledgeable, knowing just how far to push things before entering into the murky world of free jazz. Mostly it broke down into pairs, with the two saxophonists, two drummers, and two string instrumentalists all feeding off each other, leaving Jared Mankoff to do whatever he felt was needed most at the time. This, of course, led to an indescribable sound, only really classifiable as "fusion." It was Herbie Hancock pre-Head Hunters, Dizzie Gillespie during his Afro-Cuban phase, one of the smaller and more structured pieces from the Sun Ra Orchestra, or even - during a particularly well executed drum solo - a b-side from a Dave Brubeck session with Joe Morello.

Needless to say, it was an exciting experience, especially knowing that such a unique and rare thing is happening right in Greensboro with local musicians, some of which go to UNCG. Next time they play, make sure to check it out.
- The Carolinian / UNC-Greensboro

"The Brand New Life"

Horn-toting, mood-exploring Triad septet The Brand New Life should turn out a sweaty party in Chapel Hill's cramped subterranean space. Moving between Afrobeat anthems and free jazz squeal, between hip-hop and reggaeton suggestion and soul jazz proclamation, the band switches themes and streams with aplomb, energy and the occasional shout-along. Bet you can't stay all night without the ceiling spinning like color wheels. THE CAVE. $5/ 10 p.m. - The Independent Weekly

"Brand new venue for Brand New Life"

"Open up your head. Clear out your eyes. This is now your brand new life."

With eye opening lyrics (literally) and a dose of worldly pizazz, Greensboro-based phenom Brand New Life hits the Boone Saloon Thursday, opening for local jam-masters The Native Sway.

"A lot of the songs are derived from traditional music from different cultures," saxophonist Walter Fancourt said. "We use a lot of traditional African rhythms to lay down a groove and kind of take it from there."

It's what drummer Daniel Yount calls "original world jazz and funk."

The seven-piece outfit got its start at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, studying under the same band instructor.

"We ended up meeting together at my neighbor's house," Fancourt said.

And, a few years later, the gigs started coming. The band, in its entirety (Fancourt, Yount, Casey Cranford, Seth Barden, Evan Frierson, Ben Rayle and Jared Mankoff), has been playing for just more than a year and expects to release its first album Aug. 14.

There are a lot of words Fancourt would use to describe his sound, but "serious" isn't one of them.

They're about nature, beats, culture, but above all else, they're about fun.

"We make up just all these inside stories to ourselves about some of our songs that don't really mean anything ... it's just about having fun," he said. "We're just trying to have fun. We don't want to be taken too seriously. It's all about having fun. That's a huge, huge thing."

Another band all about the fun is Boone-based The Native Sway, and one guy excited to hear what Life is all about is the Sway's bass player Kevin Quinn.

"I've met a couple of the guys, but I've never seen them play," he said, but he's expecting a party that will keep Boone Saloon on its feet.

Quinn and Fancourt hope it will be the start of good things to come.

"I'm definitely looking forward to going to the Boone Saloon, because the Boone Saloon is a cool place," Fancourt said.

It will be Brand New Life's first visit, and it can't get here soon enough, Fancourt said.
Quinn and the rest of The Native Sway plan to return the favor by opening for Brand New Life at future shows in their neck of North Carolina.

Thursday promises to be a continuation of a rocking summer for The Native Sway, who are still going strong after a performance at Valle Crucis Campgrounds during last month's Sqworm Festival. The 2-year-old Boone-based act has become a High Country venue staple, made up of Quinn, his brother, Justin, Josh Bertram and Kelly Turner.

The music starts around 10 p.m. Thursday at the Boone Saloon (489 West King St.). Expect a party. - Mountain Times

"The Brand New life talk influences, one-ups"

The Brand New Life is like the multi-ethnic food court of the Triad music scene.

Even before taking on an eighth member, the Brand New Life could create quite a commotion. The then-seven-piece world-crunk ensemble cobbled together a hyper-kinetic chimera of Afro-Cuban, funk, dub and even hints of Baltimore house influences. Now an eight-man juggernaut of polyrhythm and brass with the addition of talking-drum player Mamadou Mbengue, the band is writing new material and setting their sights on making noise on the 2011 festival circuit.

Y!W: Your EP from a couple of months ago was just a taste of what the band does live. What are your plans for recording in 2011?

Walter Fancourt (sax): Recently we’ve written two new songs with Mamadou. Aside from the EP, we have about two albums worth of unrecorded material on top of that.

Y!W: When did your musical relationship with Mamadou begin and how does he fit into the band’s already complex dynamic?

Daniel Yount (drums): We first met him through Sandy Blocker’s drum group. Since then, we hang out with him all the time and he’s played just about every show of ours since then. So it only made sense that we brought him on. He’s the only percussionist in the group that can really control his pitch, so he sort of bridges the gap between the band’s rhythmic and melodic elements. Seth Barden (bass): He’s a musician through and through, and his musical heritage goes so far back. He comes from a long line of griots all the way back past his grandfather and great-grandfather.

Y!W: Does it become difficult to wrangle all of the cues that come with having such a large, predominantly instrumental band? Does one person manage all of the live performance?

Walter: As far as who is leading, it depends on the moment. Sometimes you have to completely depend on another guy to lead you into another part, but as far as one single person kind of presiding over the entire direction of a song or a show, we don’t really have a need for it.

Y!W: Your set this weekend at Legitimate Business, are you going to be working N’DangR Species into your set?

WF: I think we should. I think it’d be awesome. We just have to work on learning their beats and staying away from stuff that’s too unpredictable. SB: We originally started studying this guy named Dean Young, which I think you can find by searching for ‘dean young rapper.’ We really want to get the word out on this guy. He’s a Polynesian rapper with Down’s Syndrome, and he is awesome. He can phrase stuff like Coltrane. We’re just trying to channel Dean Young when we play hiphop-influenced stuff.

Y!W: Who are you channeling otherwise?

DY: There’s this local musician named Devin Foust who lives near UNCG right down the street from us. That’s kind of how the whole band got together. Devin has Down’s Syndrome and couldn’t point to an F key on the piano, he’s just going on pure instinct. I was giving him drum lessons for a while, but I don’t know if you can really call them that. I would come over and put on an album and he would listen and we would try to recreate it. It was more like recreational therapy than anything. Then it started with me and Casey (Cranford), and we just kept bringing people over to Devin’s house to jam. We did this for years before the Brand New Life ever started. But he’s good, it’s really some of the damndest stuff I’ve ever heard. Seth: It turned into these really wild free-jazz explorations that, when we assessed what had happened afterwards, were pretty mind-blowing. He’s the source behind “Zack Is Back” on the EP.

Y!W: What’s the story there?

SB: One summer I came back from college and I cut off my hair. All of a sudden, Devin started calling me Zack. I said, “Devin, my name is Seth,” and he’s like “I know, now you’re Zack.”

The Brand New Life will perform at Legitimate Business this Saturday night with N’DangR Species. - Yes! Weekly

"Brand New Life, D Town Brass"

"Greensboro's Brand New Life bends dub, Afrobeat and calypso—really, any music with which you'd score a party—through a prism." —Grayson Currin - The Independent Weekly

"The Brand New Life"

Standing outside The Green Bean in Greensboro on a steamy summer night, four musicians from The Brand New Life serenade downtowners with flute, sax, tuba and bells. Luring the gathered crowd inside, they take the stage with the rest of the seven-piece band to create a primeval rhythm that stirs couples to jitterbug and dancing girls to sway hips with arms overhead.
As saxophone players Casey Cranford and Walter Fancourt find their groove, Jared Mankoff's sonorous tuba invites the audience to listen. Congas player Evan Frierson (performing barefoot) creates African beats accompanying Daniel Yount's pulsating drums. Ben Ryle's electric guitar riffs slide over Seth Barden's thumping upright bass.
A few gray-haired audience members bob and do the chicken-neck jerk, but most of the crowd reflects the youth of The Brand New Life, whose ages range from 18 to 23. They're also all graduates of Grimsley High School.
According to Cranford and Fancourt, two people were instrumental in forming the band: Fancourt's neighbor Devin Foust, a musician whom Fancourt describes as having a "spirit that is indefinable," and Grimsley band director Stephan Stuber, who taught six of the seven members. Stuber described them as hard workers with supportive parents.
"They were very self-motivated and a special group of guys," Stuber says. "It's very rewarding to see them play together."
The Brand New Life's instruments, improvisations, solos and musical influences such as Sun Ra, Miles Davis and John Coltrane might suggest a jazz band, but don't be fooled. Its new self-titled CD, due out this month, was recorded at Hillcreek Studio in Asheville with Russell Anders, as well as at Greensboro's Quetzal Recording Studio. The album is a confluence of African and European music traditions with funky instrumental rhythms and occasional psychedelic overtures. Jungle calls and trills combined with indecipherable words and indefinable instruments spell adventure.
"We have a great time together on and off stage," Yount says. "We are always hanging out, trying to be creative. Our material is all original. You might hear us play a cover, but it will probably be obscure or maybe humorous like 'Yackety Sax,' by Boots Randolph."
When the discussion shifts to musical technique, Cranford and Fancourt grow serious. Cranford demonstrates a polyrhythm, a technique where one rhythm is played over another, by beating his fingers on a coffee table in Fancourt's living room.
"We tie syncopation in with polyrhythms," Fancourt says. "It gets people going crazy."
Although The Brand New Life, whose name came from a song written by Mankoff with the lyrics, "Open up your head/Clear out your eyes/This is now your brand new life," has steady gigs around the Triad and is booking its own shows across the state, its goal is to expand its touring range and play larger festivals such as Shakori Hills in Silk Hope. Although the band has played in smaller festivals, including Fun Fourth Festival and Summer Solstice (both in Greensboro), Cranford and Fancourt say it is a daunting task to organize seven young members, adding that they could use some help with booking and management.
In the meantime, The Brand New Life's goal is to have fun sharing its music and getting people up on their feet.
"I think the idea is to get down or sit down," Fancourt says. "You can sit and enjoy our music, which is fine. But the more people moving around and going crazy the better we play. Sharing with people and giving them a good time is what it's all about."
Contact Carole Perkins at
- Greensboro News & Record


Still working on that hot first release.



Since stepping onto the world beat music scene in 2009, The Brand New Life has been uplifting audiences with a sound that is as enlivening as the name implies. The seven-piece band has become recognized as one of the Southeast’s top Afrobeat groups, sharing the stage with world-renowned all-stars such as Nigerian Afrobeat royalty Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and American Afrobeat collective Antibalas. With an adventurous original repertoire, the band avoids being classified as purely Afrobeat by drawing on a number of musical influences including New Orleans jazz and indie rock. The result is a rousing, danceable melting pot of sound, powered by fierce polyrhythm and forceful horns that can be heard on their self-titled album (2010) and recently released single Gigs/$$$.

Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, the group tackles songwriting as a collective, with each band member pulling from widely diverse musical backgrounds. The rhythm section, including Evan Frierson (congas/percussion), Daniel Yount (drum set/percussion) and Scott Johnson (congas/percussion), blends drumming influences from West Africa, Uruguay, and Cuba. The influence of regular guest and Wolof griot Mamadou Mbengue (tama, aka talking drum) has led to explorations of Mbalax, the pop music of Mbengue’s native home, Senegal. TBNL’s horn section of Walter Fancourt (tenor sax/flute) and Sean Smith (trumpet) is equally noteworthy, having toured with rising indie bands Reptar and Rubblebucket in 2012 and 2013. Rounding out the rhythm section are Seth Barden (upright/electric bass) and Will Darity (electric guitar), prominent musicians on the North Carolina jazz scene. Members have also been involved in several side projects, including Mamadou’s Fantastic Band, playing traditional Senegalese music, and metal-infused jazz group Trioscapes, whose album Separate Realities cracked the Billboard charts in 2012.

The Brand New Life’s consistent drive to bring their world beat grooves to a broader audience has landed them on stages at established music festivals such as FloydFest, Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival, and Lake Eden Arts Festival. Notable venues where the band has performed include The Grey Eagle (Asheville, NC), Cat’s Cradle (Carrboro, NC), Variety Playhouse (Atlanta, GA), The Bitter End (New York City). As TBNL’s résumé continues to expand, so will their sound, filling a niche between Afrobeat, jazz, and rock that is as explosive as it is original.