Commitment to music keeps Vinyl jamming

— Although visions of rock 'n' roll lifestyles dance in their heads, members of Vinyl know there's more to it than fame, women and drugs.

"We have a really good time on the road but it's more about the music," bassist Geoff Vaughan said of the 30- to 40-year-olds with families and other responsibilities back home. "The allure of the road is tough but we're buoyed by the commitment to (the music) and each other."

Being on the road with seven other guys for the past seven years and being away from close friends and family is the toughest part of the job, Vaughan said. But the strongest aspect of the band is the brotherhood they've created.

When members of Vinyl grab their instruments to play for the hundreds of fans in the audience, life seems to light up again.

"We're not going for the pop single. It's pretty honest music," Vaughan said about finding a groove and sticking with it. "It's really all about finding that sweet spot."

Seven of the eight men hail from San Francisco's Bay Area, saxophone player Doug Thomas from Mississippi.

Vaughan said most of the men are the original lineup of Vinyl, although they started as a band without horns.

Now this old-school funk, Latin percussion, reggae and rhythm and blues band creates a collective funk style that taps into an instrumental groove all their own.

The chemistry brought the band to begin playing what they knew and loved not having vocals wasn't a conscious decision but they liked the way it sounded without them.

"What's a jam band? I think a jam band almost describes the audience than the band," Vaughan said. "There's a lot of different music that falls under that classification."

And although Vinyl jams and searches for the sweetest groove, the vision of a jam band doesn't fit the one he's in.

Band members write the songs collectively, each being patient with the others' ideas.

"No one steamrolls their ideas and we get a charge out of changing it up," Vaughan said.

The friendly competition in the Bay Area seems to keep Vinyl on their toes with area concerts and sit-ins with friends.

Although Vinyl is "not the reigning kings or anything," it received a "Wammie" for the best international band by San Francisco's SF Weekly. Vaughan said the band tries to tour regularly, January beginning their season that lasts until fall.

And playing for the fans and in an environment with seven other team players is what makes it happen for Vaughan, he said.

"It's a real high to play music in a band environment where it's not just you up there playing acoustic," Vaughan said. "It's like being on any team. Working together is a fun process and to be a part of that is gratifying for me."

Vinyl released the self-titled debut in 1997, "Live at Sweetwater" in 1998 and "Flea Market" in spring 2001.

Vaughan said Vinyl has intangible plans to build their discography and want to focus on playing and touring for now.

"We're a live touring band that's what we do," Vaughan said. "Occasionally we tape shows but there's a bunch of taped stuff out there."

Vaughan said the band supports those that freely record, marking bootlegs as a beneficial way to get their name out there.

"We have more ideas than we have time to do it in," Vaughan said.

Vinyl is Doug Thomas on saxophone and flute, Jonathan Korty on Hammond, keys and harp, Antonio Onorato on congas and timbales, Sean Onorato on percussion and bongos, Danny Cao on trumpet, Billy Frates on guitar, Vaughan on bass and Alexis Razon on drums.

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