In the Studio with The Sepia Tones

The artistic connotation of the term “sepia tone” has finally transcended photographs and anthropomorphized into five UVM musicians. The Sepia Tones, a young UVM band, boasts a sound featuring everything from jazzy saxophone solos, funky slap bass, classic rock keys, blues guitar and a drummer without a leash. Members list a handful of varying influences on their Web site including James Taylor, The Beatles, Galactic, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, The Meters and Miles Davis. The band’s lineup includes vocals by the Lopez-Barrantes brothers: Samuel, also on the keys, and Aaron, also on guitar. Brendan Dempsey plays the saxophone and the rhythm is supplied by McCrae Hathaway’s bass and leashless drum?mer Brian Reid. According to Reid, The Sepia Tones was born in the fall semester of 2007 when Lopez-Barrentes brothers and Reid got the opportunity to rehearse in the Wing-Davis-Wilks music room. “We had a chance to get together and jam and it sound?ed good,” said Reid. Soon after playing, they were “interrupted” by Hathaway, described by Lopez-Barrantes as “this random freshman waving at us through the window.” Hathaway said he knew Dempsey and the next thing they knew they were brainstorming names for the gang. After some Macintosh home studio recording and a little help from MySpace, people started noticing them. Aaron Lopez-Barrantes joked, “Garage Band got us our first gig.” Their early gigs included shows at local and statewide venues including Nectar’s, Radio Bean, The Skinny Pancake, Middlebury College and University Heights, said Reid in a jam session last Thursday night. The band currently plays Nectar’s every Monday in February, opening up for the Mo Funk Orchestra. Their sets are “about half and half for covers and originals,” according to twin brothers Aaron and Samuel Lopez-Barrantes, who celebrated their birthday at the show last Monday, Feb. 11. Nectar’s crowd was not let down last Monday. UVM student Kelsey Aroian said, “The sax equals sex!” following an improv solo by Dempsey. UVM student Hank Black joked that even though they are first and second year students, “they play at an upper classman level.” The long-term future of the band is unclear because of possible semesters abroad, but Reid modestly comments that they are just taking things “one semester at a time.” The short-term future includes Mondays at Nectars and stepping up to a slightly larger venue at Higher Ground on Friday, Feb. 22, but they are “definitely down to play local parties,” said Reid.