Bands with dueling guitarists in Reno are easy to find. Groups that bounce two keyboardists off each other are a bit more rare. That’s just one ingredient of the secret sauce that has made Lumbercat one of the more intriguing groups making the rounds of clubs in the past few years.
Lumbercat features Alex Lemnah on keyboards and trumpet as well as Caleb Collins on organ and synthesizer. Alex's older brother, Emmanuel, is on drums, while Aris Andrews is on guitar and vocals.
You may notice something else out-of-the-ordinary in that lineup: no permanent bassist. Lumbercat has used different fill-in bassists for shows this year. There are no plans for a steady one yet—though it sounds like they wouldn't mind it.
“Bass is one of our favorite instruments, so we want to have it in there,” Andrews said. “We've been able to work with local bass players that we can have on rotation. Really, whoever is available to play with us can hop on a show. It is kind of tough, though.”
“You should make a note in the article: bass player wanted,” Emmanuel said.
A new four-string slinger would be playing with a group that started as acoustic-based folk-rock and is now a groove-heavy take on '70s rock and funk, but still with melodic tunefulness in the forefront.
“I think that rock and roll is the foundation of it,” Andrews said. “There's a lot of '60s and late '70s influences, but it's also like a lot of different modern bands as well. Mostly, though, it has a lot of grooves and riffs—lots of riffs.”
“We are suckers for that kind of stuff,” Emmanuel added.
Still, the band also works other styles into its sound, including Latin music and reggae.
“I think that one thing we enjoy as musicians in this band is trying out these unique little flairs,” Emmanuel said. “We like to mix it up, and I think we all agree that we like to see bands that don't feel like they are playing the same song over and over. That's not fun. We like to keep it fresh and keep the audience on their toes.”
Andrews said the band began quite far from Reno—in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Emmanuel and I went to the same college there and played in bands together,” Andrews said. “We were even roommates out there.”
The two musicians knew each other in the past, too. Lemnah grew up in Quincy, California, while Andrews was raised in Redding, California. “I already met him through campouts and outdoor activities back then, and then we ended up in Tennessee,” Emmanuel said. “It's kind of funny.”
The two musicians eventually moved to Quincy, where Alex still lived. Along with Collins, another Quincy long-timer, Lumbercat went out on a huge limb soon after forming in 2015 and went on a months-long West Coast tour.
“It was more like a road trip with friends where you occasionally play shows,” Emmanuel clarified.
All four musicians eventually moved to Reno, and they've been steadily gigging since making the trek. They did take a break for part of 2017, when three of the band members—the Lemnah brothers and Collins—fought fires with the U.S. Forest Service.