AZTEC SUN takes flight at Gypsy Sally’s

By Jason Herman / November 22, 2017
AZTEC SUN promotional poster

Audience members witnessed what may prove to be a breakout moment for Washington, DC based band AZTEC SUN as they opened for Everyone Orchestra on Saturday, November 11th at Gypsy Sally's. For several weeks now, the funk and soul band intensely prepared for two performances supporting Everyone Orchestra. In previous years, AZTEC SUN has been part of Halloween performances around the DC Metropolitan Area, but not this year. Instead, the band continued to practice and sharpen their sound and stage performance.


This band is well-known and respected within the DC Metropolitan area, and has recently begun to cast a wider performance net from their hometown of Washington, DC. They have begun appearing further West in Shepherdstown, WV, further South in Richmond, VA, and further north earlier this summer in Brooklyn, NY. Slowly but surely, AZTEC SUN has begun to carve out a name for themselves in the American landscape of music.


Before the performance, several band members walked discretely throughout the sold out venue a few minutes before their performance and settled in near the stage. Stephane Detchou, AZTEC SUN’s lead singer, was wearing a heavy winter pea coat as if to stay warm and limber on the sidelines like a football quaterback before being called to the field for action. Perhaps the band members looked at the empty stage and envisioned how their careful practice would exceed even their own expectations for this important homecoming performance.


Slowly the musicians arrived on stage, each looking sharp and prepared for this performance. Then Detchou, who has stated that his influences include Prince and James Brown, appeared from the wings without his coat on, revealing a sparkly grey sports jacket. Joseph and his amazing technicolor dreamcoat arrived on stage, and the band was prepared for a memorable performance. From the first note on this evening, the band lived up to their reputation of showmanship and the ability to excite and motivate an audience.


The band started its performance with “The Struggle”. By song’s end, Detchou asked the audience if they were ready for the Everyone Orchestra. Those in attendance were still settling in for the evening and responded tepidly. Ever the showman, Detchou professed, “Alright, that's a two [out of ten], we are going to get it to seven in a little bit!”


AZTEC SUN then launched into “Pa Ra Ra”, which displayed their new brass section. Ever so slowly, the band increased the tempo and atmosphere in the room. Accordingly, the enthusiasm of the crowd started dialing well upwards of the 2 on Detchou’s impromptu Excitement Scale.


The band then began a soulful “In the Name of Everyone”. Although the song starts at a slow tempo, soulful crescendos progress into a moving display of funk, highlighted by a duet between Detchou and Sara Ghebermichael(vocals). The duet was followed by a beautiful piano solo by Ryan 'Catch' Sarafolean (keyboards) before launching into a blistering solo by Ray Lamb (lead guitar) and punctuated by the funky horn section of Graham Robertson (saxaphone), Adam Kent (trumpet), and Joe Goetz (trombone).

AZTEC SUN carefully and deliberately selected their setlist, raising the musical intensity of their performance. Ghebermichael began to sing lead on “Wild” while the funky bass line of Shane Weckesser followed, complementing the groove of Gherbermichale's vocal performance as the horn section accentuated her performance.


The band continued with “Always Waiting”, a song that evoked the funk sounds of the 1970's. Following fresh on the heels of “Always Waiting” was another soulful and funky tune, “Redbone”. Towards the end of “Redbone”, audience members noticed that some band members looked towards the stage entrance, perhaps prematurely revealing their hand that that a special musical surprise was in store. At the conclusion of the song, Detchou announced that there was indeed a special guest sit-in, none other than Alan Evans of Soulive. Evans, who would be performing later with Everyone Orchestra, quickly settled on stage performing on timbales aside John Heinze (drums).


The catchy song which Evans guested on was especially powerfully spirited and energetic. Evans provided accentuating drumming and a passionate vocal performance while the band was clearly relishing in their moment to share the stage with one of their musical idols. Weckesser laid down a funky backbeat, while Heinze and Evans pounded a steady and compelling drumming performance. Detchou and Ghebermichael provided their own enthusiastic contributions to the song, singing, dancing and swaying on stage. By song's end, the energy of the room was clearly in the red zone.


AZTEC SUN ended the evening on yet another powerfully emotional and soulful song, “Love Call On Me”. Detchou pleaded with the audience from the stage, “Have you ever been in love?...Because I am ready to give you everything I am! Give you everything you need!”, before leaping from the stage and pleading his emotional case from the front few rows of the audience. Lamb continued to accelerate his guitar tempo and brought the song to a crescendo as Weckesser walked a funky bass line and the horns triumphantly brought the song to a soaring intensity. Detchou continued to whip the audiences fervor, asking the audience to join the band in singing the refrain of “Love Call On Me”.


AZTEC SUN left the audience emotionally charged and received a standing ovation. We can only hope that Soulive’s Evans and the other musicians in Everyone Orchestra - only a few feet away waiting in the green room - recognized the incredible talent of this Washington, DC band.


It looks like the weeks of secluded practice paid off with a near perfect performance, and we look forward to the future progression of AZTEC SUN.

Please listen to the performance below while taking a look at our exclusive photos below.


AZTEC SUN carefully and deliberately selected their setlist, raising the musical intensity of their performance. Ghebermichael began to sing lead on “Wild” while the funky bass line of Shane Weckesser followed, complementing the groove of Gherbermichale's vocal performance as the horn section accentuated her performance.


The band continued with “Always Waiting”, a song that evoked the funk sounds of the 1970's. Following fresh on the heels of “Always Waiting” was another soulful and funky tune, “Redbone”. Towards the end of “Redbone”, audience members noticed that some band members looked towards the stage entrance, perhaps prematurely revealing their hand that that a special musical surprise was in store. At the conclusion of the song, Detchou announced that there was indeed a special guest sit-in, none other than Alan Evans of Soulive. Evans, who would be performing later with Everyone Orchestra, quickly settled on stage performing on a small drum kit aside John Heinze(drums).


The catchy song which Evans guested on was especially powerfully spirited and energetic. Evans provided accentuating drumming and a passionate vocal performance while the band was clearly relishing in their moment to share the stage with one of their musical idols. Weckesser laid down a funky backbeat, while Heinze and Evans pounded a steady and compelling drumming performance. Detchou and Ghebermichael provided their own enthusiastic contributions to the song, singing, dancing and swaying on stage. By song's end, the energy of the room was clearly in the red zone.


AZTEC SUN ended the evening on yet another powerfully emotional and soulful song, “Love Call On Me”. Detchou pleaded with the audience from the stage, “Have you ever been in love?...Because I am ready to give you everything I am! Give you everything you need!”, before leaping from the stage and pleading his emotional case from the front few rows of the audience. Lamb continued to accelerate his guitar tempo and brought the song to a crescendo as Weckesser walked a funky bass line and the horns triumphantly brought the song to a soaring intensity. Detchou continued to whip the audiences fervor, asking the audience to join the band in singing the refrain of “Love Call On Me”.


AZTEC SUN left the audience emotionally charged and received a standing ovation. We can only hope that Soulive’s Evans and the other musicians in Everyone Orchestra - only a few feet away waiting in the green room - recognized the incredible talent of this Washington, DC band.


It looks like the weeks of secluded practice paid off with a near perfect performance, and we look forward to the future progression of AZTEC SUN.

Please listen to the performance below while taking a look at our exclusive photos below.

Click here to see AZTEC SUN's setlist from this performance

About the author

Jason Herman

A 24x7 member and Photo Editor of DC Music Review. Jason has been passionate about music since his earliest days and is especially excited about the music scene around his adopted hometown, Washington DC. With over 35 Grateful Dead and 80+ Phish shows, and countless music festivals under his belt, you can find him at concerts around the country but especially in his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. Before turning his lens to music, Jason followed professional cyclists around the U.S. Domestic Circuit to the tallest mountains in Europe.