Black Pumas create the music of true soul mates | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Black Pumas create the music of true soul mates

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Update: To help slow the spread of COVID-19, these shows have been postponed until August 27 and 28. Tickets already purchased will be honored at that time. Contact point of purchase for refund or exchange information.


Black Pumas are an electrifying six-piece neosoul band led by Adrian Quesada and Eric Burton—a musical partnership made in heaven. Born in Laredo, Texas, and based in Austin, Quesada is a guitarist, composer, and Renaissance man (Texas Music Magazine called him “Texas’ version of Quincy Jones”), and he’s been central to a wide variety of influential musical projects in his home state, including the salsa-infused rock fusion of Grupo Fantasma, a norteño rock opera called Pancho Villa at a Safe Distance, and Latinx funk band Brownout. Los Angeles-based Burton sang in gospel choirs as a kid, encouraged by his family, and spent a period busking on Santa Monica Pier before moving into contemporary singer-songwriter ballads. As Black Pumas, he and Quesada make music that recalls the feel and passion of 70s soul, with Burton adding just the right amount of grace to Quesada’s grit—a sound that recently earned them Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Each of the ten tracks on the band’s self-titled 2019 debut album maneuvers among soul, funk, blues, and psych rock, blurring the lines that separate them. When I caught Black Pumas at SXSW last year, it was an exhilarating, joyful ride. Their music doesn’t simply nostalgically re-create vintage grooves but rather confirms the vision Quesada shared in a January Rolling Stone interview: “I wanted the soul to be that it came from our souls.”   v

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