Call it a jambalaya of sound

A Louisiana band will bring its blend of reggae and funk, sprinkled with gospel and blues, to Brooksville on Saturday.

Published May 11, 2007

Borrowing elements from different styles of music is nothing new for musicians who hail from Louisiana. But the frontman and lead guitarist for the Baton Rouge group Henry Turner Jr. and Flavor wasn't sure what would happen when he began charting his musical path in the late 1980s.

"All I knew was that I wanted to mix things up and create something new from the music I really dug: reggae, blues, funk and gospel, stuff like that," Turner said by phone this week. "It got bounced around, and eventually I came up with what I consider good, fun Louisiana party music."

Turner, 46, whose group will headline Saturday's Bandshell Bash concert in downtown Brooksville, plays what he happily labels "Louisiana reggae/funk," a beat-friendly amalgam that conjures up the musical image of what it might be like if Bob Marley jammed with the Funky Meters, B.B. King, George Benson and the Mighty Clouds of Joy.

Though he might be all over the map genre-wise, Turner must be doing something right. The group, hailed as one of Louisiana's prime musical exports, has performed at the House of Blues, the Bob Marley Festival and at other places around the world, and the band was featured on the Lagniappe Stage at this year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

"The idea behind our music is to provide people with a good time, get them dancing and keep them moving," Turner said. "If you do that they'll remember who you are the next time they see your name."

A danceable beat is just part of the package. Turner's songs often carry messages of hope, justice and racial harmony, themes that he thinks are too seldom heard in today's music.

"There's nothing wrong with music having a spiritual quality to it," Turner said. "I don't mean that in a religious way, but rather by giving people something positive to latch on to."

Turner performed in New Orleans two days before Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005. The devastation prompted him to join forces with other Louisiana musicians to start Hurricane Healing, as well as other entertainment-community efforts to provide relief to storm victims.

"A lot of the musicians that I talked to after the storm had nowhere to go to get help," Turner said. "The Red Cross, Salvation Army and FEMA weren't helping them to get gigs, to help them get back to making a living. For the most part, it was musicians - some of whom were hurting themselves - that got the ball rolling."

Turner and his band are touring to support the new CD Louisiana Funk Buffet, an album that Turner thinks could bump the band to a higher level.

"It's a bit different in that it's pretty much all funk all the time," he said with a laugh. "We thought we'd try it and see what happens. In this business it's good to shake things up every once in a while. You never know where it's going to lead you."

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or 352 848-1435.

If you go

Concert in the park

Henry Turner Jr. and Flavor will perform from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Hernando Park band shell on Fort Dade Avenue in downtown Brooksville. The concert is free and will coincide with an antique car and hot rod show, sidewalk sales and other activities. Call 754-4788 for information.