SARATOGA SPRINGS – Funky, groovy and kind of weird is the best way to describe local band, Let’s Be Leonard. Made up of five casual dudes (and a merch guy named Nick), Let’s Be Leonard has created quite a following for themselves in their hometown, and now they’re branching out all over the state and Vermont, making waves in the music world wherever they go. On Saturday, February 20, Let’s Be Leonard will be performing at Putnam Den, along with their good friends Wild Adriatic, for a live recorded show.
Let’s Be Leonard came together in 2013 after several of the band members met at Schenectady County Community College. Through meeting at local gigs and open mics, they formed the rest of the band, which is currently made up of Matt Griffin on lead guitar, Karl Bertrand on rhythm guitar, Connor Dunn on saxophone, Chris Cronin on bass and Paul Gauy on drums. All the members take part in vocals.
When asked what kind of genre their music is, drummer Paul Gauy said, “It’s like a jazz jam fusion. We take the song form style of jazz, where there’s a lot of solos and instrumental parts, and do it with a rock n’ roll feel. It’s all very rock n’ roll.” Guitarist Matt Griffin added, “I always tell people it’s like Steely Dan and The Grateful Dead combined.”
Let’s Be Leonard is definitely reminiscent of the classic jam band, while making sure their sound is entirely their own. They’re inspired by the 70’s era of music, with additional influences as varied as Herbie Hancock and Phish.
“People look at us as a continuation of the jam tradition,” said bassist Chris Cronin, “We take this really seriously because what we do with our instruments is an expression of what we live.”
The members of Let’s Be Leonard, who are all best friends, currently live together on 500 acres in Greenwich, at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center. The guys are taking care of the property in the off-season, doing landscaping and getting in touch with their inner lumberjacks, that is, when they’re not practicing and rehearsing.
“We hang out so much, that when we’re on stage, it’s just a continuation of it. We’re hanging out, but with instruments in our hands,” said Gauy. “We’ve got this vibe thing going on; it’s what Leonard is. It’s not really giving a damn about fitting in and just being yourself – forgetting about everything and just being right in the moment, having a good time.”
That sense of spontaneity and living in the moment is how their debut album, “Cow,” got its name. After a day of recording, the guys had a bonfire, a few drinks and took an inside joke too far, resulting in the very random name “Cow” as the title for their first album. Even the band name came from a misunderstood text. When guitarist Karl Bertrand suggested “Leonard” as the band name, but texted “Let’s Be Leonard,” the name stuck. Always keeping a sense of humor with their work, much of their creative ideas start with the phrase, “Wouldn’t it be funny if…?”
“We’re doing serious things, but we can’t be serious about them at all,” said guitarist Karl Bertrand, and Gauy agreed, “If we get too serious, then we’re going to drive ourselves crazy and be unhappy.”
Let’s Be Leonard takes their positive energy and easy-going, happy-go-lucky attitude with them on stage, making their audiences feel comfortable, laid-back and oh-so groovy. All the members of the band take part in writing the music, with each member adding something different to the mix. Bertrand, who has written the most songs for the band, enjoys exploring topics such as childhood, innocence and freedom, while Chris Cronin tends to focus more on cosmic subjects and the universe in his writing. Matt Griffin admits that he writes a lot of “stupid love songs.”
“We have all these experiences, and then we express those experiences through music,” Cronin said. “Experimenting is the name of our game,” added Gauy.
Let’s Be Leonard’s album “Cow” was released several months ago, and for now, the band is focused on perfecting their live act. They can be heard doing the occasional cover song, like a Dead tune or a little Billy Joel, but focus more on their original material, of which there is a lot of. Let’s Be Leonard even has their own fan subscription, known as “Leonardland.” Fans can subscribe to “Leonardland” for $10 per year and get exclusive access to their back-catalog, live recorded shows, behind-the-scenes of the band’s life, discounted merchandise, and more fun surprises.
Tickets to the show on Saturday, February 20 can be purchased at putnamden.com. The show starts at 9:30 p.m., with the doors opening at 8:30 p.m.
For more information about Let’s Be Leonard, visit their website at letsbeleonard.com and their Facebook page, facebook.com/letsbeleonard.