Gift of groove
Lo & Behold brings community together on the dance floor
Chico funk band Lo & Behold took the stage at Unwined Kitchen and Bar on Nov. 10 with all six members feeling weight on their young shoulders. It was just two days after the Camp Fire had dramatically upended life in Paradise and other Butte County communities, and several longtime employees of Adventist Health Feather River Hospital and other community members directly affected by the tragedy were in the audience.
“We’re freakin’ sad, just like everybody else in the county,” said drummer Cody Naab in a recent interview. “But right before we went up, we had this little pep talk with our manager. He said, ‘People are looking at you to have a good time.’ And we realized we have this gift we can give people—people love music.”
Tears were shed that night, both onstage and in the audience, but that didn’t stop people from “dancing their asses off,” Naab said. “That meant the most, seeing people cracking a shell and becoming themselves again after a tragedy like that.”
Between donations at the door and a contribution from Unwined’s ownership, the band raised $2,000 to benefit North Valley Community Foundation’s Camp Fire Relief Fund. And the giving season is just getting started for the band. Lo & Behold is headlining Funksgiving at Chico Women’s Club on Friday (Nov. 23), alongside like-minded funk-rockers Rigmarole and Black Fong. Proceeds from the event—presented by The Maltese—will benefit Safe Space, a low-barrier shelter for homeless people hosted at rotating locations through the winter.
Lo & Behold has been active for about a year and a half, gaining a healthy following and injecting new life into Chico’s funk/jam scene. For a sense of the band’s sound, it plays a cover of “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse that seamlessly fits in with its original numbers. Indeed, Winehouse is frontwoman Lorna “Lo” Such’s primary inspiration as a vocalist, but she also takes cues from classic jazz singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Barbra Streisand while developing her own sultry, smoke-filled-lounge style.
Half of the band met in Dave Elke’s recording arts class at Butte College. “Dave would say, ‘Let’s record a song today,’ and then the three of us would jump up and make a song out of this weird riff we came up with,” Naab said. “We always had some chemistry.”
Such knew Naab from high school and saxophonist Neal Bentley from a previous band. She recalls wanting to start a new music project, but it was initially unclear what sort of music they would make together. “We got together to talk about what kind of music we like, had a beer and all that,” she said.
“We can appreciate each other’s musical tastes,” Naab added, “but I don’t think any of our weekly Spotify playlists are anywhere close to the same.”
They all shared an affection for deep grooves, however, and found that songwriting came easily once they were playing in the same room together. (The lineup is filled out by keyboardist Webster Moore, guitarist Grant Limper and bassist Grayson Katka.) The band released a self-titled, EP (available at loandbeholdband.bandcamp.com) that was engineered, mixed and mastered by Elke.
“We’re all really comfortable with Dave, and he knows how to keep the vibe in the room really productive and creative,” Naab said. “He knows our energy onstage, and I think he did a great job of capturing that on the recording.”
For now, Lo & Behold is entirely focused on playing live and bringing the community together, Such said: “How great is it that we can use what we love doing the most to help other people during this crazy, weird, awful, surprising, shocking time?”