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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 22, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Ithaca funk bands raise money for Southside Community Center

Jazzy saxophones partnered with tenor vocals, politically fueled rap and a Donald Trump wig were just a few elements of the Sinfonia Ball, a music charity event that spotlighted two new Ithaca College funk bands: Butter and Brü.

To raise awareness for hunger and homelessness in Tompkins County, the Delta Chapter of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia hosted the Sinfonia Ball Jan. 27 in the Whalen Center for Music. The on-campus male music fraternity group partnered with the Southside Community Center of Ithaca, a local shelter and community resource center for African Americans, and all proceeds from the ball were donated to their emergency food pantry.

Max Keisling, junior music education major and executive board member of the music fraternity, said the group raised about $160 and collected 25 cans of food.

While both bands were at the event for the same cause, their sounds vary greatly. Butter, a nine-part funk-alternative group, played rehearsed songs including a cover of “Back Pocket,” a hit by funk-group Vulfpeck. Brü, a hip-hop collective with funk influences, utilizes the freestyle rap skills of duo sophomores Isaiah Horton and Damiano Malvasio.

Keisling said Butter had been on his radar since he formed a close bond with Ravi Gil, vocalist of Butter, at freshman orientation two years ago.

“One of the best parts of being in the music school is that you’re around everyone as they’re meeting each other and forming bands,” Keisling said.

Keisling said Gil convinced Brü to perform at the event, despite the fact that the group has only performed once in the past.

“It was almost entirely improvisation,” Keisling said. “They’ve only ever played one set, and they absolutely wrecked it.”

Horton, whose stage name is Yvng Pluto, put on a wig styled to look like Trump’s hair during the band’s set and imitated him, addressing his mistreatment of people who are culturally diverse. Horton said it’s important that he take advantage of the power of music during his performances.

The Sinfonia Ball was organized by the Delta Chapter on-campus fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. SAM FULLER/ THE ITHACAN Ravi Gil, vocalist of Butter wows the audience with a keyboard solo at the Sinfonia Ball. SAM FULLER/ THE ITHACAN Jonah Bobo of Butter performs at 8:30 p.m. in the Whalen Center for Music. SAM FULLER/ THE ITHACAN During their set, nine-piece funk group, Butter, covered "Back Pocket," a popular track by funk band Vulfpeck. At the event, the fraternity raised around $160 and 25 cans of food for Southside Community Center of Ithaca. SAM FULLER/ THE ITHACAN Damiano Malvasio freestyle raps during Brü's set.  SAM FULLER/ THE ITHACAN Max Keisling, junior music education major and executive board member of the music fraternity, said the group raised about $160 and collected 25 cans of food. SAM FULLER/ THE ITHACAN During their set, alt-funk group Brü covered "Superstitions," the popular track by Stevie Wonder.
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Max Keisling, junior music education major and executive board member of the music fraternity, said the group raised about $160 and collected 25 cans of food. SAM FULLER/ THE ITHACAN

“I want to have a place within rap to be able to spit something that’s powerful and could make someone do something at the end of the day,” he said.

Jonah Bobo, keyboardist of Butter, said Brü’s politically charged set was necessary considering the state of the country.

“It was heavy,” he said. “I felt it. That was music for social change.”

Bobo said the group plays together in a casual environment so often that when it’s able to perform in front of an audience, it’s always great.

“Any time we get to play music and then something positive happens as a result — other than us having a great time — is incredible,” Bobo said.

Keisling said the fraternity had been planning the Sinfonia Ball since December. During winter break, Keisling said, the fraternity reached out to both bands to see if they were interested in performing for the cause.

“These guys were just awesome musicians who were kind enough to give their time and help out a good cause,” Keisling said.