The music of Brownout, a hard-hitting eight-piece Latin funk and rock crew, is a direct extension of the melting pot of sounds the bandmembers heard in the American Southwest, from norteño and conjunto through hard rock, blues, and deep funk and R&B. An outgrowth/alter ego project of Grupo Fantasma, their highly original recordings put a creative Latin spin on albums of music by Black Sabbath (Brown Sabbath) and other artists.
Grupo Fantasma guitarists Adrian Quesada and Beto Martinez, bassist Greg Gonzalez, trumpeter Gilbert Elorreaga, saxophonist Josh Levy, trombonist Leo Gauna, drummer Johnny Lopez, and conguero Matthew "Sweet Lou" Holmes were all in an Austin, Texas, funk band called the Blimp. In 2003, shortly before Grupo's Movimiento Popular came out, Quesada suggested starting up a funk outfit with the intention of simply playing covers and having fun. Culling inspiration from groups like Santana, Earth, Wind & Fire, and P-Funk, and calling themselves Brownout, the octet members realized they sounded good enough to release a 7" in 2005 on England's Freestyle Records, a single that ended up doing so well -- and garnering so many follow-up requests -- that soon a 12" was issued as well. This was all enough to convince the friends that Brownout should be a serious thing, and their full-length debut, Homenaje, was released in January 2008. That same year, Brownout won an Austin Music Award for Best Latin Contemporary Band (beating out themselves, as Grupo Fantasma, for the honor) and made appearances at the annual SXSW festival.
A second album, Aguilas and Cobras, appeared in 2009, with a remix version of the album following in 2010. Oozy arrived in 2012, while an EP featuring funk versions of Black Sabbath tunes, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, was released early in 2014 and followed by a second volume two years later. In 2018 the band issued Fear of a Brown Planet. A name-dropping tribute to Public Enemy, whose groundbreaking, influential Fear of a Black Planet was issued in 1990, musically it was an instrumental album that unabashedly looked back to '70s-style, horn-drenched, bass-thumping, wah-wah guitar-wired, uncut funk. ~ Marisa Brown
- Austin, TX