RGM Project is one seriously big band — 10 members in all, including a full horn section. See and hear for yourself at www.rgmproject.com. The RGM stands for “Really Good Music” or “Really Great Music.”
“We categorize it as contemporary blues/jazz and funk,” said guitarist/composer Bernie Klemmer, adding that their original songs are “very accessible to the listener” due to the use of “traditional jazz harmonies.”
“It’s universal,” chimed in singer and Doylestown resident Bethanne Reid. “We have 2-year-olds (in the audience) who are dancing their butts off, to 80-year-olds holding hands.”
“All these guys are world class musicians,” she said, mentioning RGM Project saxophonist Andrew Neu’s membership in the bands of Bobby Caldwell and Smokey Robinson.
Playing venues like Warmdaddy’s in Philadelphia, The Underground in Lansdale, Cheltenham Township’s Summer Concert Series, Puck in Doylestown, Havana in New Hope and Shadybrook Farms in Yardley over the years, RGM Project’s upcoming local shows will be June 19 at the Whites Road Park Concert Series in Lansdale, June 26 as the live musical soundtrack to the multimedia performance art event “Abstract Anatomy” at Sellersville Theater, and July 25 as part of the “A Little Night Music” summer concert series at the James A. Michener Art Museum.
Klemmer and Reid described “Abstract Anatomy” as a particularly unusual setting for their music because the event will have elements of visual art, a fashion show and burlesque. “(Producer Delia Asher) sent the music to the artists, and they picked what songs they wanted to perform to. It’s gonna be telling. ‘What is this person going to do?’,” Reid said.
Collaborating since 2009, this army of music makers — which occasionally appears in trio and sextet configurations — is now in its 10th year of existence.
“There’s probably 100 (songs) that are in various stages of development. We’re finally putting it all together,” said Klemmer, announcing that over the course of 2018 — the year that leads up to their 10th anniversary — RGM Project will be releasing four albums with different themes, in addition to a recently re-released, remixed and remastered version of their “So the Story Goes” album.
Coming in August will be “World As I See,” followed by “Songs of Love,” “When Those Blues Come Callin’” and an instrumental album “Not a Word Spoken.”
One of their songs, “Separate Lives,” is an ode to how they’re able to make music despite being geographically separated by long drives. “In the 10 years we’ve been together, we’ve had only three official rehearsals,” Reid said with a laugh. “It speaks to the level of musicianship we’re dealing with.”
One of their instrumental numbers, “The Philly Special,” gets its name from the trick play the Philadelphia Eagles used to score a touchdown in Super Bowl LII.
One inspiration behind getting all this music formally packaged is that Conshohocken-based, Grammy-winning producer Phil Nicolo (Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Cypress Hill, Aerosmith, Urge Overkill, Sophie B. Hawkins, Pete Yorn, Michael Franti & Spearhead) is a fan. “There’s something that man does when he mixes my voice that no one else does,” Reid said.