The Motet back at Belly Up Aspen on Sunday
IF YOU GO …
Who: The Motet
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Sunday, Jan. 5, 9:30 p.m.
How much: $35-$55
Tickets: Belly Up box office; bellyupaspen.com
“The only constant in this band is change.”
So says The Motet’s lead singer Lyle Divinsky, who joined Colorado’s beloved funk band and musical institution four years ago.
Though the band has consistently sound-tracked dance parties in Denver and here in the mountains for two decades, the personnel has evolved often. Along with Divinsky, the saxophonist Drew Sayers and trumpeter Parris Fleming have joined the lineup in recent years.
Funk is the common ground among the seven-piece outfit, but Divinsky notes each member brings diverse influences and perspectives from roots reggae to jazz, hip-hop, blues, soul and psych rock.
“As you look at The Motet, there are so many genres that the band has passed through and so many different musics we’ve jumped in on,” he said during a swing through Aspen last year.
The outfit’s home state fans welcome those evolutions, and embraced Divinsky when he came on board.
“It’s a huge testament to our fans — they’re so welcoming,” he said. “When there’s a new member, it’s like ‘Oh, we get a another member of the family and we get to hear the band in a different way.’ That’s been the impressive thing about the Motet community. It’s just nonstop creativity and openness.”
The Motet will headline Belly Up on Sunday, Jan. 5. Its most recent album, 2019’s “Death Or Devotion,” was the first Motet album that Divinsky had been a part of from start to finish. He joined four years ago, trying out for lead singer, by writing vocal parts around already-recorded instrumentals for The Motet’s 2016 album “Totem.”
“It was my audition process in a sense,” Divinsky said.
On “Death Or Devotion,” he sought to leave his mark on the band’s signature funk sound by infusing his soulful vocals with some substantive lyrics.
The Motet built its fan base on their boisterous live shows, feel-good, up-tempo funk and 420-friendly party-starting songs. But Divinsky is also aiming to bring some of our national moment’s political urgency to the band’s new tracks, like the call to action “Whacha Gonna Bring.”
“It was important to me to try to bring some more substance to the nonstop dance party,” he said. “You’re going to instantly be grooving and bobbing your head, but if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll find something there.”
The Motet’s songwriting process on “Death Or Devotion,” he said, usually started with bandleader, drummer and founding member Dave Watts and the rhythm section putting together demos and instrumental song sketches. They handed them over to Divinsky to write a song around. From there, he said, the horn section develops their parts on top. Then they all perfected the tracks together in a Littleton studio.
“It’s almost a conveyor belt kind of thing,” Divinsky said.
A Portland, Maine, native who had a solo career in New York before heading west to join The Motet, Divinsky has been floored by the vibrant Colorado live music scene, where every night feels like Saturday night.
“Coloradans want to get the most out of life,” he said. “There’s a search for adrenaline, good times, community togetherness. And I think that, of course, that’s going to shape us.”
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