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Con Brio: 'Whenever You Call'

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A collage of five images with the center image showing eight people standing near or holding on to a jungle gym-like pole outside of the building.
From the center image, left to right: Marcus Stephens, Benjamin Andrews, Brendan Liu, Viveca Hawkins, AJ McKinley, Jonathan Kirchner, Andrew Laubacher. (Courtesy of Brittany Powers/Collage by Spencer Whitney of KQED)

The Sunday Music Drop is a weekly radio series hosted by the KQED weekend news team. In each segment, we feature a song from a local musician or band with an upcoming show and hear about what inspires their music.

Con Brio is a seven-piece band that started in 2009 and began playing at the Hotel Utah Saloon Open Mic in San Francisco before progressing to larger venues. The band pulls musically from soul, R&B, and groups like Sly and the Family Stone or Tower of Power while also being influenced by rock and roll and psychedelic rock. “Con brio” means with vigor or with spirit in Italian.

Bass guitarist Jonathan Kirchner says “Whenever You Call” is a love song about being there for someone.

“We had written the song years before with Geographer,” he says. “We just brushed it off and laid it down fresh with the band, and Viveca [Hawkins] came in and sang it, and it just came to life.”

He says one of his favorite parts about being in a band is performing because of the special relationship dynamics, camaraderie and teamwork that comes into play.

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“There’s all these different subgroups within a band, like, the rhythm section, whether that’s like, really just thinking about the bass and drums, or including the guitar and keys, or the horn section, and then, the lead singer and the backup vocalists,” Kirchner says. “There’s all these different intertwined dynamics, but all of us are working together to support the song.”

The band has a new series on their YouTube channel called the “Soundstage Series,” where they collaborate with other Bay Area artists and film it live in a studio.

In terms of musical goals, Kirchner says he wants people to feel joy.

“[Listening to music] is inspirational, and the right song can turn your day right around,” he says. “And I hope that we can play our small part in the music world of contributing to that feeling for others.”

The band’s members also include Benjamin Andrews, Viveca Hawkins, Andrew Laubacher, Brendan Liu, AJ McKinley and Marcus Stephens. Con Brio will be performing at Native Sons Hall in St. Helena on March 9th, so you can go hear them live.

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