Black Pumas Rising: The Austin Band performs at Mission Ballroom in Denver


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Singer and guitarist Eric Burton was delivering Amazon packages three years ago when he met producer Adrian Quesada in Austin, TX. The two started making music together and a year later they released an album under the name Black Pumas. The success was swift: four Grammy nominations were followed by a live performance of the hit song “Colors” at the 2021 Grammy ceremonies and a concert at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and the Vice President Kamala Harris.

Burton, who had performed on the Santa Monica Pier before moving to Austin in 2017, says he and Quesada were excited to work together even before they met in late August 2018.

“Adrian was first thrilled to meet me when he heard about me over lunch or brunch with another producer,” Burton said. “He told me he got immediately excited when he saw YouTube videos of me playing music and he liked my voice.”

Quesada, a former guitarist in the Grammy-winning Latin funk orchestra Grupo Fantasma, was also intrigued by Burton’s unorthodox approach to the guitar, so he sent a few pieces to Burton. Burton wrote the lyrics for about fifteen of them, also sending song ideas to Quesada.

“We were both won over by the fact that my material perfectly matched the aesthetic with which he came to the table as a producer, and that made us excited,” said Burton. “We were both like, ‘Let’s just do this. We’re having so much fun, and we should do it until it’s no longer fun.

When they first started working together, Burton felt like he was just going to help finish the pieces for Quesada. But he gradually started to introduce his own songs and production ideas, and the band members were able to get a “yin-yang of a balanced effort for the first album,” he says.

Doubling down as Black Pumas, Burton, Quesada and other musicians played their first show in February 2019. After the gig the two founders pulled away and Quesada said, “Hey, man, I think it’s really awesome. I think it’s really something that can fly. From his experience touring, playing on the festival circuit and working with various labels and managers, he knew that Black Pumas had a chance.

The public agreed. About three weeks after the group began their two-month residency at Austin Juke Joint C-Boy’s Heart & Soul, lines of fans have wrapped around the building.

“We became that little night at a dive bar that everyone wanted to come to,” Burton recalls.

Black Pumas released their self-titled debut album in the summer of 2019, and Burton and Quesada continued to work on material for the band’s follow-up.

Black Pumas' self-titled debut album was released in 2019.DEVELOP

Black Pumas’ self-titled debut album was released in 2019.

Black puma

Then the pandemic struck.

“That was crazy, man,” Burton said. “I feel like life hasn’t stopped. To be honest, it’s been a little challenge staying home and focusing on the new record while managing my own physical, emotional and psychological health in general with everything that has happened. I feel like it’s hard not to be affected by what we’re seeing right now.

Amid the pandemic, months of social and civil unrest and new leadership in the White House, surrounding yourself with musicians has been a comfort.

“I started seeing a therapist,” Burton notes, “but the biggest therapy for me has just been knowing that I have a family of musicians who are on a mission with me during this pandemic.

“I don’t live with any of the musicians in my band, but we’re still kind of in the same boat when it comes to trying to make music work for our well-being and our livelihoods,” he continues. the greatest thing. It’s just the community whether we’re making music or eating food or drinking beer or just sharing music. It really kept me sane. To be honest, I don’t know what I would do otherwise.

While the band’s debut album marks a time and space in the band’s life where its members were still getting to know each other, the next album represents “where we are lately, in terms of our relationship,” says Burton. And thanks to the tours, this relationship has solidified. Along the way, Burton and Quesada learned to understand each other’s idiosyncrasies.

The Black Pumas will headline the Mission Ballroom on August 11 and 12.DEVELOP

The Black Pumas will headline the Mission Ballroom on August 11 and 12.

Jody Domingue

“I kind of know what Adrian expects from me, and vice versa,” Burton said. “Fortunately, we always work very well together. It still feels like the first day in the studio. This excitability has definitely been postponed until now. It doesn’t sound like something that is old to us. Looks like something that is still brand new. For that, we are always excited and can’t wait to see what the other will bring to the table.

“We both have a good level of self-confidence. I mean, we get into our heads what people might like and what they might not want. I think it was amazing getting down to the same level before we experienced a lot more outside of music. It feels like the relationship is constantly growing to become more enjoyable instead of jumping into the studio for a session as a songwriter to finish someone else’s instrumental, or vice versa.

Burton, who was raised by artists, says that when he was younger, making music and art was a way of coping with life for him. And once Black Pumas hit the road, he kept writing too, not wanting to rest on the group’s new success. It made him want to write more, always thinking of new ideas that he could bring to life with the band – even if it meant making the band members stay on stage for an extra five minutes to practice something new. .

“I still had my laptop and I still had my headphones,” Burton says. “And [I was] trying to get the band to sort of jam with me. I’m like ‘Hey guys let’s jam on this song for a little while.’ I would do it from place to place – and I ended up with fifteen ideas. “

Some of these songs are among those that the group is building for their next album.

“We are constantly working,” says Burton. “I think that’s what will carry us.”

The Black Pumas will be at the Mission Ballroom at 8 p.m. on Wednesday August 11 and Thursday August 12; Neal Francis opens. Tickets, $ 50 to $ 75, are available from AXS.

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