“West End Blend is the soundtrack to your party,” according to Hartford’s WNPR. The funk band, made up of nearly a dozen University alumni, brings that party to Hawktober Weekend with a show in the Sports Center on Friday, Oct. 17. It’s a big step for the group, most of whom were students just a year or two ago.
“We’re excited,” drummer Sam Horan ‘13 confirms. “It’s going to be a new experience for us as far as performing to a bigger audience. It will be good to show the parents the potential of what can happen after graduation.”
Here’s a preview of what you can expect from the show, which begins immediately following Midnight Mania (scheduled for 9 p.m. in the Sports Center):
Although a large crowd is expected, this is hardly West End Blend’s first big break. Over Columbus Day weekend, they performed along the Hartford Marathon course which had over 15,000 runners. The band has played at many bars and clubs, including Hartford’s Black Eyed Sally’s, where they have scheduled another gig for Oct. 18. And they are no strangers to UHart’s music scene, having played in the Hawk’s Nest and Lincoln Theater, as well as Spring Fling.
“Our musical talents were definitely fostered here,” says Horan of the University. “I can attribute a lot of my growth to some really great teachers at The Hartt School. It also helped to learn the history of those musicians who have gone before us and use them as a reference point to build upon.”
The band gets its name from Hartford’s West End neighborhood, where the musicians live and started jamming together. The city is also featured in their music video for “What It’s All About,” off their new EP, which showcases the group’s signature combination of hip-hop beats, horns, and jazzy vocals. Horan says they would like to eventually tour other parts of the country, but don’t expect them to forget their Hartford or UHart roots anytime soon.
In addition to Horan, the band includes the following members with UHart connections: Eric Bryan ’14, vocals; Jesse Combs ’14, guitar; student Andrew Cusanelli, percussion; Mike Dipanfilo ’12, guitar; Alex Heaton ’14, percussion; Sam Horan ’13, drums; John Mundy ’14, trombone; Vicky Medieros ’14, baritone sax; Paulie Philippone ’14, keys; and Tom Sullivan ’14, bass. Vocalist Tangsauce, trumpet player Mike Bufando, and Mile Oehmen on the tenor sax round out the group.