Pawn Shop Soul isn’t the first band to cover obscure soul songs from the ’60s and ’70s, but they do offer a few new twists.
For one thing, they throw a few Latin tunes into their set. Secondly—and more importantly—they are an all-instrumental band, all instrumental covers mind you, which makes them even more far-out than the average crate-digging, left field soul cover band.
“We confound even a lot of musicians because a lot of this music is really obscure,” says Steven Baird, baritone sax player and band manager. “I wanted to look for tunes that nobody else found, stuff that got overlooked by the mainstream, but still is very rich and exciting material.”
Admittedly, most of the band members aren’t fanatical vinyl collectors, they just love music. In fact, Baird is responsible for at least 90 percent of Pawn Shop Soul’s set list. He didn’t necessarily intend for the band to be instrumental, he just wanted the horn section and the organ to be up front and center. Even if Pawn Shop Soul does get a vocalist—which they’re open to—the vocals will have to share the spotlight with the horns.
Because they have evolved into an instrumental, horn-fronted band, they tend to stay away from down-tempo soul songs.
“Some slow songs are great when you have a vocalist up front for people to focus on,” Baird says. “When you have a horn-fronted band, you have to keep things at a higher energy to get people on the dance floor.”
INFO: 9 p.m. June 20, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz, $8/adv, $12/door. 479-1854.