Sharply dressed musicians layin’ down groovin’ funky upbeat jams, sequined soul vixens synchronized in sweet tones, patrons undulating to the beat. I’m not talking about an old episode of Motown Live. No my friends, I’m talking about The Diplomats of Solid Sound.
Originally formed as a four piece instrumental group in 1998, these Iowa City veterans have been laying down hip-shaking grooves since their first release “Instrumental Action Soul” in 2001. They carry on the legacy of legendary artists like James Brown, Booker T and The MG’s, The Ikettes and The Impressions. You may wonder why an instrumental group would cite influence from The Ikettes, who were vocalists. That would be a nod to the Diplomats’ summer of 2006 addition of three swingin’ soul sistas known as The Diplomettes.
The Diplomettes had their recording debut in 2008 on the album called simply: “Diplomats of Solid Sound featuring The Diplomettes.” Along with the addition of the Diplomettes, this album includes one of their songs remixed by a UK producer known as Lack of Afro. Their most release release dropped in 2010 with the title “What Goes Around, Comes Around.”
The recordings are great, but you really must experience the Diplomats live.
“We try and give as much show as possible,” says guitarist Doug Roberson.
Their live shows are like an old-school Motown revue. The band comes out and plays a few instrumental songs, and then they introduce The Diplomettes. It’s a kind of showmanship rarely seen these days.
“We all dress to the nines: suits, ties, etc., a step above most acts, and the girls wear dresses or rather glitzy outfits to ramp up the overall image,” says Doug.
Success hasn’t come without challenges.
“Originally, being an instrumental band was not an easy thing. People generally prefer singing,” explains Roberson. “Now the problem is a lack of money to promote the band. If you don’t have a record pusher and an upscale (expensive) publicist, you can’t get your music on commercial radio or in the big glossy magazines.”
- The Name: The Diplomats of Solid Sound
- The Talent: Doug Roberson (electric guitar), Jim Viner (drums), Nate Basinger (Hammond B3 Organ), David Basinger (baritone saxophone), Eddie McKinley (tenor saxophone), Sarah Cram (vocals), Katharine Ruestow (vocals), Abbie Sawyer (vocals).
- The Sound: Soul/Funk/Jazz
- The Gigs: New Year’s Eve at The Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., Iowa City. With Ben Driscoll of the East Side Motors.
- The Album: Their latest is “Diplomats of Solid Sound Featuring The Diplomettes” released in July 2008
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