Last week, I sat down with the five members of local jazz/soul/funk band The JurassiC in an SJSU music room, and it didn’t take much to get them talking about what they love best: music, of course. When asked what they did for jobs and hobbies outside the band: more music, of course. All five grew up in various spots around the South Bay, so they seemed a wise choice to ask just what it’s like to be a regular gigging band around the up-and-coming South Bay music scene. The short answer: pretty dang exciting. The longer (and better) answer? Read on.

The JurassiC is Bennett Roth-Newell on keyboards and rap vocals, Chris Main on guitar, Jackie Gage on vocals and flute, John Kellett on drums and vocals and William Bohrer on bass. They’re bringing the funk to the San Jose Bacon Festival of America on July 4, and the jazz to the Fillmore Jazz Fest July 6. So the San Jose music scene has really livened up over the last few years. What does that look like from the band side of things?

Jackie Gage: I first started singing here at the Hedley Club. They have a jazz jam and they still have it on Wednesdays. And I started doing that in college, I had no idea there was such a thing as a jazz jam and that people could get together and play for the fun of music and love of music.

And then from there, I don’t know, venues have been popping up like [Cafe] Stritch and Blackbird [Tavern], the Back Bars, both of them, seeing San Pedro Square Market open and that’s a whole other venue, and then all of a sudden with these new venues you’re presented with all these new bands in the area who have been here but have never had a platform. So it’s really cool to see people who have been here and been around finally getting a chance to share their music. I think they’ve always been here…

John Kellet: But they just drove to San Francisco.

JG: Yeah!

William Bohrer: And I think other people are trying to cash in on this wave, like I remember South First Fridays someone hired [local jazz pianist] Nichole Boaz to play at like a drapery store? Just during the event because, “Oh crap! Everyone’s got music!”

It seems like it’s definitely picking up momentum as we speak. And that’s mostly centered around the venues and just the fact that people…like I can go to Stritch on a Thursday night and run into five or six people that I know because they’re just there and they also run into five or six people they know and that’s how you have a scene, everyone ends up just sitting at the same table bullshitting. Nobody planned to meet anyone there and they just showed up and that’s a beautiful thing.

Bennett Roth-Newell: There’s a good camaraderie here, as opposed to the horror stories that get tossed around somewhere like New York where musicians are just trying to one-up the next one, or just get past the next musician so they can land that gig. At least around here in the South Bay there’s a lot of support within the musicians’ community. The networking is really positive and folks are pushing one another to improve and pick up more opportunities to perform. We see a lot of our fellow musicians that we play with one night and see them at our gig the next day or vice versa. There’s a cool little exchange of personalities that way.

Who are the other bands you seeing gigging around and networking that way?

JK: First one that comes to mind is the Super Soul Bros.

[Everyone agrees at the same time.]

WB: Like my brother is a tenor player and he’s been in their horn section. They just have this rotating cast of… I remember at one of their concerts they had alto, tenor, trombone, trumpet, two trumpets, just like this gigantic horn section of just dudes from around here.

JK: And it was sick.

WB: Yeah yeah, and it was sick. I don’t know, everyone’s familiar with that band…

JK: Are you familiar with that group?

Yeah, I haven’t actually caught them live, but I put up events for them and see they’re around all the time.

JK: I think they’re doing San Pedro Square again soon.

JG: July 4th.

BR: We actually did a gig where we had the trombone player from that group, who also plays in another group called the Illiance. And then that has some overlap too… We basically did this “little big band” gig at San Francisco Golf Club. So it was the five of us here, with the trombonist who plays in those couple groups, and then the saxophonist Oscar Pangilinan and Sean Williams, trumpet player, who also play in The Bad 5, which is a group I also play in [laughs]. So yeah there’s a just a ton of moving parts. But it’s really crazy to be in the midst of it and how good the chemistry is no matter the collective of musicians is.

I see Sweet Hayah around a lot too.

JG: Yeah, they’re awesome.

WB: They’re more of a rock band though.

BR: We’re more based in the jazz world.

JG: They’re like reggae/rock/soul?

Their exact genre’s pretty hard to pin down.

JK: Actually, I don’t know much about their scene.

WB: They’re more the band suited to the Back Bar gig. They could open for a metal band and it’s fine. We can play with them, but we can’t play with a metal band.

JK: At the same time we could open for a hot jazz group, and they probably couldn’t…

WB: We could open for a rap group. It’s all about what flavor you choose to bring to that particular gig. Okay like perfect example: July 4th we’re playing the Bacon Festival and we’re gonna bring the funk right out the gate and keep it going because it’s a big outdoor crowd, people wanna dance…

JG: We’re on before Anya and the Get Down for that so we have that punch.

WB: And then two days after that we’re playing Yoshi’s [in San Francisco] and that’s like an indoor, hot room.

JK: It’s more of an intimate environment.

JG: It’s for the Fillmore Jazz Festival, so it’s like, jazz

Chris Main: This band has a variety of stuff we play, we have a lot of repertoire…

So is that how the scene kind of breaks down? You’ve got the jazz and soul people and then the rock people over there…?

WB: Sort of, it’s like jazz and then everyone else in their scattered little groups.

JK: I dunno, I don’t think that’s entirely true. I think that’s because we’re so embedded in the jazz part of it, that’s all we know.

JG: I see a lot of other bands…like, for Fatale [a regular live music event at Blackbird Tavern], we’re booking lots of different artists and acts and there’s a really awesome indie scene. Like I always think of David Knight and Brooke D. and then Curious Quail and those cats and then people who are at Frascati like singer/songwriters. I feel like there’s a lot of different musical genres around, but then to go and discover and explore them is a whole different story.

WB: I mean, we do have a pretty big punk scene. And they’re all about the community building. Everyone I’ve met at a punk show has been super, super nice. I know a guy who’s going to Sonoma State next year for jazz guitar who plays lead in sort of a screamo–well you could call them screamo, but they have so many different flavors it’s hard to classify.

The preceding has been edited for length and clarity.