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Live From The 305: Lemon City Trio Brings New Meaning To Funk

Brian Demby
Brian Robertson (left), Nick Tannura (middle) and Aaron Gluekauf (right) are Lemon City Trio.

Miami’s Lemon City Trio(LCT) is bringing a fresh new meaning to the word funk.

Brian Robertson, 35, on organ; Nick Tannura, 28, on guitars and Aaron Glueckauf, 27, on drums are the musicians behind the funky jazz-soul sound that makes up Lemon City Trio. They met in Miami, decided to join forces to create a band and began rehearsing at a warehouse located in the Lemon City, a neighborhood in Miami that dates back to the mid-19th Century and overlaps now with Little Haiti.

The Lemon City is said to have gotten its name from a lemon grove. The band was inspired to name themselves after the neighborhood. 

At their recording studio, the trio created a new taste to the art of funk music. They honed their sound playing at local live music venues like Lagniappe House and Wynwood Yard. Over the years, the band's sound has evolved. Their new music has some rock vibes to their funk, which Robertson says is a “more of a geographical representation of the music scene in the city of Miami.” The band joined Sundial to talk about their start, their music and music venues around the city.

Watch Season One of Live From the 305 here.

WLRN: How do you define funk?

Robertson: I think it's really an attitude and approach. Definitely dancing goes along with it, but it's not necessarily syncopated or a certain tempo. I think it's just more of an attitude that you bring with you when you perform.

Glueckauf: The word characterizes a certain kind of swagger, a certain kind of attitude and approach to playing. A little more technically, me being a drummer and the way I think about funk is a certain kind of swing, it's a certain kind of manipulation of the beat with the rhythms and the syncopations. There is no funk music without syncopation and without those kind of grooves. Like Brian was saying the band in the beginning and the covers we would do we're central to creating this identity. The term funk was the basis for how we got started creating the music and the fact that now we've branched out into sort of bringing in rock-and-roll and psychedelic rock and space rock into it [our style].

We're going to see the closure of two established music venues in Miami next year: The Wynwood Yard and The Electric Pickle. What role do these venues play in maintaining a vibrant music scene?

Robertson: I was shocked but not shocked because having lived in Miami for 15 years you kind of see the way the wind blows. I definitely think that music will continue and venues will continue to pop up. When I started to play music in Miami in 2002 there weren't really that many venues. Wynwood was filled with warehouse space and dominated by artists that were getting cheap rent. I played basically at art openings with my other band and it was the kind of neighborhood where you really didn't want to walk around by yourself at night. Things have obviously changed so much since then. I do think people that are creative minded and appreciative of new music that kind of pushes the boundaries are going to always find a place to host a venue.

Tannura: I think it's easy to get very negative when things like this happen because the consequences for us are bad, but ultimately it is a sign of a growing city. Every city has commercially developed area and Miami kind of doesn't. The positive spin is and what I hope for is that it's just a sign of more people coming to Miami and viewing it as a place that they want to be and they want to live. I hope that more people will want to go out to things and see music. I feel it puts a little bit of an edge behind us because I think as artists we can just say "oh everything's closing" but what if we became bigger, work harder and do things. We can become a band that people want to see. It's not like Wynwood closing means that the scene in Miami shuts down. These places are vital but at the same time, it's a cycle.

Watch Lemon City Trio's in studio performance.  

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.