Soulful Con Brio gets Mission club off to new start 

click to enlarge San Francisco neosoul band Con Brio – featuring lead vocalist  Ziek McCarter, center – plays at Virachocha on Tuesday. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • San Francisco neosoul band Con Brio – featuring lead vocalist Ziek McCarter, center – plays at Virachocha on Tuesday.
San Francisco neo soul band Con Brio cites an entire decade as its biggest influence.

“We’re inspired by a lot of the ideals that were channeled in the seventies,” says lead singer and Houston, Texas native Ziek McCarter, 21, who, along with fellow band members, gets grooves from 1970s funk and rock as well.

Con Brio – whose name means “with spirit” in Italian – invites guests to an appearance Tuesday in the Mission at Viracocha, a hot underground music spot (it’s also a store selling vintage clothing, furniture, typewriters and records) as the venue prepares to reopen with an entertainment permit.

Although Con Brio’s single “Never Be the Same” – a new video for it was recorded at Viracocha – is slow and mellow, most of the band’s original songs are more up-tempo.

“The shows are generally upbeat and people are dancing,” says bassist Jonathan Kirchner. “It’s a party.”

Kirchner, who grew up outside New York City, says “the seventies in general” are Con Brio’s biggest inspiration, with Sly and the Family Stone, and to a lesser extent, James Brown and Janis Joplin also influences.

Con Brio’s newest member is McCarter, a composer as well as dynamic showman and vocalist (reminiscent of Michael Jackson) who joined the 5-year-old, seven-piece group about a year ago, replacing former lead singer Xandra Corpora, who moved to Japan to teach English. Kirchner says Con Brio “stumbled on” McCarter at Madrone Art Bar in The City, where the then-19-year-old crashed Tuesday night jam sessions to sing Stevie Wonder covers.

In addition to live shows, the group is working on a six-track album, with songs co-written by keyboardist Micah Dubreuil, which is slated for fall release on Burning House Records.

McCarter says growing up in the South made him appreciate older cultural traditions.

“The South has its reputation as being a little behind the train in progressive values. San Francisco is definitely more liberal, but the South is really rooted in its values. They have a lot of rich wisdom,” he says.

While Con Brio’s members agree that it’s challenging to afford living in San Francisco – they all have part-time jobs or play with other bands, including McCarter, who works at a garden center – they don’t plan to leave their adopted city.

“There’s so much going on in this town,” says Kirchner. “In my early twenties, I was trying to decide between New York and here, and I decided to do something different. There’s more of a community [in San Francisco]; we help each other out.”


Con Brio

Where: Viracocha, 998 Valencia St., S.F.

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: Free; online RSVP requested


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