Sonic soul sounds

Duncan McNeill didn't relocate all the way from Scotland to play before dull audiences.

"Any musician who looks into the crowd and sees people dancing can't help but be inspired," McNeill said during a phone interview from his new home in Bend. "That's what makes it worth it."

With a mission to create that energy, McNeill created the aptly named RaiseTheVibe, a funk trio that collects and spins soul, jazz and world sounds into a sonic web that dares you to get moving.

McNeill, a jazz sax player by trade, formed the band six months ago and has been steadily making a name for himself in Central Oregon.

The outfit sparked as a four-piece, but soon McNeill realized the sound could be distilled to a finer point by jettisoning one player.

"You have to make choices as a musician that are best for the band," McNeill said.

The trio now is armed with McNeill's sax, Rob Sidle's electric bass and Ashland High School grad Johnny Riordan's drums and percussion.

RaiseTheVibe is branching out to other parts of the state, and recently played a well-received gig at Tease restaurant.

"They seemed to enjoy us there," Riordan said. "That show had a lot of energy and we hope to see more of it when we play Ashland again."

Vibe will hit Tabú tonight and Caldera Tap House on Saturday.

"We've seen Caldera and it has a nice stage," McNeill said. "And the floor has enough room for people to get down and dirty.

"Good music and good beer, what more do you need?"

McNeill grew up near Edinburgh, Scotland, and moved to Bend in the late '90s "for the good skiing."

He has big plans for RaiseTheVibe, including national tours and an upcoming CD.

"We probably will record several songs and choose only 10 or so of the best to put on the CD," McNeill said. "We eventually want to offer the CD for sale at our shows."

For now, the band is busy grabbing gigs across Oregon and setting down tracks in McNeill's Bend studio.

"We are not weekend warriors who do this for fun only," McNeill said. "We are determined to make something special. This is serious for us."

In the next month, the band members plan on snagging as many gigs as they can fit into their hectic schedule. The band practices five to six days a week, "stopping on Sunday," McNeill said.

"It's fun for us, but it's also a lot of work," McNeill said.

Riordan brings the world flavor to the band, having traveled to Africa and Latin American countries to study their music.

"When you hear African and Latin percussion, you can't help but dance and get excited," he said. "This music raises your spirit."

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