Material: Cover bands are often relegated to a sub-division, among the heavy hitters in the music industry, because their lack of originality in appearance and material. Nonetheless, Groove Martini has been mowing down misconceptions and implications of an identity crisis for nearly a year and a half now—with raw talent. And with the upcoming release of their first original single (called “Unite”), they might consider shedding the label of cover band, for an indie band moniker in the not too distant future.
Musicianship: Nipun Nair (bass guitarist) and Leo Goh (lead guitarist) co-founded Groove Martini in 2016. Since then, this duo from Southeast Asia has compiled a 10-piece band, featuring two lead singers from Europe and an “All-American” musical ensemble to serve as their backup band. The highly spirited chemistry of their horn section is so enjoyably funky, that they easily evoke comparisons to UB40 in their late 1980’s heyday.
Performance: Lead singers Aiym Almas and Sara Santilli switched in and out of vocalist duties, as if the were a tag team wrestling twosome—welding their track list into a delightful spectacle for their onlookers. Santilli danced all over the stage as if she were channeling her inner Gwen Stefani, while the soulful vocal range of Almas served as the perfect compliment.
Summary: Whether it’s hip-hop, rock & roll or pop, if history has taught us one thing about the best bands, it’s that they don’t last for very long. A formula with big egos, money and good music usually results in a laboratory explosion that leaves nothing in its path—except solo careers, internal feuds and a bunch of “what ifs.” Nevertheless, as Groove Martini continues to break the mold for what a cover band should be, the notion that they may have a short shelf life looks to be yet another misconception that they will trample with ease.
The Players: Aiym Almas, vocals; Sara Santilli, vocals; Zach Nazar, percussion; Tristan Hurd, trumpet; Lemuel Clark, drums; Brandon Valerino, alto sax; Hugo Shiboski, Tenor Sax; Avelino Ramirez, pianist/keyboardist; Nipun Nair, bass guitar; and Leo Goh, lead guitar.
Photo by Miguel Costa