Oklahoma City’s Groove Merchants aren’t your typical club band playing favorite hits at weddings and venues.
This nine-piece band is a lot groovier.
The Groove Merchants is a nine-piece band that specializes in weddings and corporate events covering popular dance music from the '70s up to brand-new songs that are on the radio today. With both male and female singers, a three-piece horn section and a full rhythm section, The Groove Merchants can cover just about any type of music but really focus on dance songs.
“What we are best at is keeping a dance floor and party going,” says Scott Smelser, guitar and co-manager. “Once we get going, we average about two seconds between songs, which really makes a huge difference for the energy of the party. Nothing kills a party quicker than a band standing around looking at each other trying to decide what they are doing next. We truly have it down to a science.”
Scott and the other manager and trombone player, Eric Leonard, work closely with clients, especially brides and coordinators, to make sure all of the details of the events are meticulously planned and executed. Mike Turner, the keyboard player and musical director, runs the magic on the bandstand.
The Groove Merchants create an atmosphere that gets the feet dancing and the faces smiling.
The Groove Merchants began in 2001 when bass player Chuck Moore moved back to Oklahoma City from Nashville. Chuck and Scott grew up playing in bands together and wanted to get something going again.
“At that time I was also playing a church gig with Mike Turner, so we enlisted him and a couple of other guys to get things started,” Scott says. “Eric came in soon after that with his horn, and things just kept growing from there. We have been a nine-piece now for about 10 years. We have had several personnel changes over the years, but keeping any band together for over 18 years is quite an accomplishment.”
The Groove Merchants typically do two or three shows a month, the majority of those being weddings or corporate events. The band also performs at the UCO Jazz Lab every other month and makes an appearance on Thursdays at Redrock Canyon Grill on Lake Hefner during the summer months.
“The best part of performing with the Groove Merchants is the level of musicianship and professionalism. We truly have some of the best musicians in the area and always have,” Scott says.
Nearly everyone in the band came through either the University of Central Oklahoma or Oklahoma City University Jazz programs, and some of the players teach music at the college level, have done tours and recording with other artists and played with famous people.
“We basically never rehearse. We regularly add new songs to our repertoire, but the level of skill and professionalism is so high that everyone just does their homework and we will show up on the gig and play the new material,” Scott says.
“Mike Turner does our horn arrangements, and we have some of the best players in town who can just come in and read those parts down.”
The Groove Merchants are unique, and their fans are too. They don’t have a “typical” crowd, but they have developed a list of songs that can appeal to everyone from teenagers to retirees.
“We really understand that the clients we serve now have us there because they know of our professionalism, dependability and of our reputation to enhance their event with no surprises,” Scott says.
For more information, visit GrooveMerchantsBand.com, on Facebook at Groove Merchants OKC or book through Box Talent Agency.