Prepare for a fun concert of eclectic musical mischievousness

ATASCADERO — The popular Atascadero Summer Concerts in the Park series will not be happening in 2020 as large social gatherings are still banned by state and county health officials. However, that does not mean that local lovers of live music will have to go without their fix this year as the series has moved virtual and will continue on Saturday, Aug. 22, with the Brass Mash Band.

In the park, summer concerts are part of what makes small towns such as Atascadero, Templeton and Paso Robles quaint and intimate. It’s Americana. It’s sitting on a blanket in the park, overlooking the lake and drinking a glass of wine while sweet melodies fill the air under a cotton candy sky.

Unfortunately, this summer, we must dance in our living rooms and backyards, but the music is still there. The Atascadero Virtual Summer Concert Series began on July 11 with the Martin Paris Band followed by Garden Party on July 25 and the Jumping Jax on Aug. 1; on Aug. 22, the series continues with a local brass ensemble, The Brass Mash Band.

The band, formed about five years ago by founding member Colin Dean, is made up entirely of local musicians who specialize in brass. Brass Mash will have 10 members performing in-studio in August but are essentially the Wu-Tang Clan of small, local bands in that their exact number of members is somewhat ambiguous and always up for debate.

The 10 members playing on the 22nd will be Dean, Sam Franklin, Malcolm Frasier Smith, Tim Crooks, Ben Kerr, Brett Malta, Laura Foxx, Breanna Chambers, Anthony Yi, Art Esparza, Sean Sullivan.

“I am the founding member,” Dean told The Atascadero News, “and every single person has their own story and their little bizarre connection to me. I was living up in the Bay Area five years ago, and I moved down here for a job, but when I got down here, I was looking around for a brass band, and there was none. So, I just kind of filled the vacuum.”

Dean, who earned his degree in music from Cal Poly, then began diving into the direct messages of anyone in the county that he could find with a passion for playing brass instruments and the gusto to embrace peculiar mashups.

“We look like a New Orleans brass band,” Malta, a tuba player, said. “We have a drum set, tuba, saxophones, trumpets, and trombones, but we play mashups of pop tunes. So, we’ll take a song that maybe the older generation will recognize and put it up against a song that the younger generation will know and put them together. Hopefully, there is a little something for everybody in that.”

However, they don’t just take songs from one generation and pair them with something more contemporary, which is relatively common. The Brass Mash Band takes it another step further, choosing two songs and two artists who are diametrically opposed to one another and combine them into one magical song. Some of their top hits consist of songs that combine bands like Black Sabbath with Britney Spears or System Of A Down with Seal.

“Where people imagine those artists sitting inside their brains, it’s a very different place, and musically they are very different, but for some reason, the songs work well together,” Dean said. “It ruins both songs, so it is a great mashup.”

Their anarchist melodies set the perfect tone for a night of fun and rambunctiousness. The Brass Mash Band has made a habit of bleeding all the bars in San Luis Obispo dry on nights when they play at Frog & Peach Pub as the symphonic sounds pull in everyone downtown like a moth to the flame.

The Brass Mash Band has entertained locals for years through the county playing some of its premiere events and venues like SLO Brew, the Tamale Festival, and the Live Oak Festival twice.

The band has done so well that they have now established a residency in SLO at Liquid Gravity Brewing, where they play the first Friday night of every month. As of now, the band is not allowed to play for crowds but is excited to entertain a city on Aug. 22 through wireless devices.

The concert will be available via the City’s YouTube channel (!) and AM radio as KPRL (1230AM) will also be broadcasting the show beginning at 6 p.m.