“For sure,” says No BS! co-founder and impresario Reggie Pace. “The closest predecessor to No BS! Is the Devil’s Workshop Big Band that played for a long time at Bogart’s Back Room.” Bogart’s was the Fan establishment that transformed into Balliceaux. Bogart's speakeasy-style back room was the scene of some of the city’s most compelling jazz.
“I’m grateful that Balliceaux and Chris Bopst, who books there, lets me come in and do all kinds of creative stuff,” Pace says.
The reason for the multiple shows in one place is basically that’s how No BS! does it. “I like for us to be a part of the city,” Pace says. “We’re not growing out of people who know us, but collecting people who can get to know us.”
The occasion is their new album, Brass Knuckles. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. The shows are tonight at 10 p.m., Friday at 10:30 p.m., an all-ages show at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and then another stand that night at 11 p.m. Pace laughs, “Yeah, we’re covering all the bases. Saturday’s for everybody who has to get up and go to church the next day.” And, on a separate note, the timing will allow you, on Friday and Saturday nights before the music, to tour 1708 Gallery’s InLight extravaganza at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
I mean, what’s better than that?
The band is made up of a dozen guys who’ve played together for nine years. And that’s a boat load of brass to haul around for that long. The group has toured the country and made it over the border to Quebec, but Brass Knuckles may ultimately take them across the water.
In this recording, the always boisterous, but tight-playing band is bouncing and swaying and jumping. “We don’t want to get lazy and we don’t want anybody to catch us,” Pace says. More brass bands are popping up and if No BS! wants to stay at the top of the list, the group must take some chances while maintaining their fan base. “Our music isn’t for the museums – it’s not inaccessible, and it can’t get boring to us. We put it all out there.”
While the group can do an incredible version of "Thriller," they also recorded a Charles Mingus tribute album.
I wondered if the group gets requests to do other covers.
“All the time,” Pace says. “We don’t do any of them.” And he chuckles. “We have an archetype in our head of what would make a good No BS! version of a cover. Whether one is too corny, or just too corny enough, is it conducive with our greater body of work, can we make ardent melodies, is it a song that people like enough?” He pauses and adds, “We’ve had songs we’ve done in rehearsal that failed. Just disasters. So, we don’t allow them to escape.”
But Brass Knuckles is full of originals and you can hear them starting tonight. Here, for your listening pleasure, is “3am Bounce,” a creation of Pace and No BS! And you can get this song, and all the others, on CD and vinyl and pre-ordered via iTunes.