By Emma Speicher
Every Tuesday night from 7pm to late, a crowd of unconventional characters of all ages gather at Woodhouse Brewery in Santa Cruz. A lustrous voice pours through the doors, accompanied by an oscillation of organic synth and the rhythmic staccato of drums. This is Funk Night.
Originally housed at the Crêpe Place and more recently taking primary residency at Woodhouse Brewery due to steadily increasing turnout, Funk Night takes place every Tuesday as a free, all ages night of funk, electronic and bluesy music.
GTri, a euphonic funky collective, compromised of Rowan Graves (Drums), Trianna Feruza (Vocals), and Gianni Staiano (Producer and Keys) take primary stage every Tuesday. They are accompanied by a variety of touring and local bands, the most recent including the psychedelic Flat Sun Society, and the all UCSC student funk four-piece, DeBrie.
Since 2015, musician and producer, Gianni Staiano, has been blessing the ears of Santa Cruz with his funky sway tunes at Funk Night as 7Come11 and more recently in the band, GTri. Staiano, a local Santa Cruzan, has always been drawn to the keys, even quitting his role as a popular football captain to pursue piano. Staiano recalls the controversy that ensued following his decision to quit football in favor of piano, remembering his meeting with a child psychologist to asses his sanity and his fierce determination to continue piano. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he found fellow Santa Cruz local, Trianna Feruza through Instagram. Feruza, a new school singer and rapper got her start in musical theater and attributes much of her inspiration to her family’s deep roots in music. Feruza distinctly remembers dancing atop a drum to her grandfather’s tambur as her mother and sister belly danced alongside her. Soon after joining forces, Staiano and Feruza added drummer Rowan Graves, who was a member of the Cabrillo Jazz band with Feruza. Graves, like Staiano and Feruza, is a Santa Cruz local, his music career beginning at a young age covering the Beatles on a secondhand drum set and eventually branching out to Jazz and Funk music. When remembering one of GTri’s first few meetings together during the COVID-19 pandemic, Staiano reflects,
“The only thing that that gave me hope through the pandemic was hanging out with this little bit of sunshine.”
Together, they are GTri, it is clear that they are more than just a band – they are a family, (or the Fellowship of the Ring, if you ask Feruza)
Since the formation of the band, the trio have performed at a number of venues outside of their current residency at Woodhouse Brewery, including local venues like the Crêpe Place, Santa Cruz Recording and Moe’s Alley as well as numerous music festivals across California, including a hippie music festival in Grass Valley, the Lucidity music festival in Santa Barbara, and the West Coast Function Fest 3.0 in Forestville. The band hopes to play at venues like the Orpheum in San Francisco and the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado in the future but considers their Funk Night residency at Woodhouse one of their biggest achievements yet.
Funk night is skyrocketing in popularity, with a cast of people returning every week to dance and sing along to GTri’s funky tunes. I interviewed a series of attendees over the course of four weeks, both old and new faces. Several first-time attendees, fresh off the dance floor, were glowing with enjoyment, one of which stated
“I’m telling every single f*cking person I know about this place…I don’t know, this music just scratches an itch in my brain that I didn’t know needed to be scratched.”
Their friends rampantly agreed, dissolving into a fit of smiles. Several attendees happily boasted that they had been to every Funk Night since the beginning without fail, some even told me that they had been attending Funk Night since 2015.
One thing all attendees had in common was their contagious excitement at every powerfully euphonious verse from Feruza, the resonant beat of Graves’ drums and the smooth tone of Staiano’s twinkling keys.
“Our goal is to have an evening, where you can show up on a f*cking Tuesday and have a really good time. And even if it’s three minutes, you can forget about all of your b*llsh*t for three f*cking minutes.”
GTri expects to release an album to streaming platforms late summer 2023 and tells us all to keep our ears peeled for some new projects coming our way, but for now, head to Funk Night every Tuesday at Woodhouse from 7 to 10pm, “every f*cking Tuesday, I repeat, every f*cking Tuesday” to dance your worries away in a night of beautiful tunes and even more beautiful people.