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Bet on Black

The Dylan Black Project heat up at summer's end

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Party Band The Dylan Black Project rock the NorBay Music Awards party after winning for best blues band. - ROB MARTEL
  • Rob Martel
  • Party Band The Dylan Black Project rock the NorBay Music Awards party after winning for best blues band.

The first thing to know about Santa Rosa band The Dylan Black Project is that there is no Dylan Black.

Rather, the band—guitarist and vocalist Terry Sanders, keyboardist Steve Seydler, drummer Greg Saunders and bassist Elmar Kurgpold—take their name from a pseudonym Jimi Hendrix earned in London in the '60s.

"No one knew who he was at the time, and he was notoriously shy," says Terry Sanders of Hendrix. "So, he would play and then grab his guitar and leave. And people would say, 'Did you see that guitarist? The black guy with hair like Dylan?'"

Sanders, a San Francisco native who cut his teeth with hip-hop and R&B groups like Digital Underground, and Seydler (Petty Theft) go back 20 years, and they formed The Dylan Black Project with Saunders (Stax City) and Kurpold close to a decade ago. They've steadily gained a following for their tight rhythms, funky grooves and exceptional onstage musicianship.

"Coming from that old R&B background, it's all about the continuity of the set," Sanders says. "We have all this movement, within the music, that is polished. There's no second-guessing onstage."

The group is a staple at summer concerts throughout the North Bay, performing on Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Windsor Town Green, and on Saturday, Aug. 31, at Redwood Café in Cotati. In the last few years, The Project also found themselves on bigger stages, opening for Boz Scaggs last year at Rodney Strong Winery and making fans as far away as Concord.

This fall, The Dylan Black Project heads into the studio for the first time as a group to record their debut album. "We're getting a lot of love, a lot of people who want to play our music," Sanders says.

In particular, Sanders looks forward to recording his 2017 song "Sonoma Shine," which he wrote before the Tubbs Fire, but which resonated with the North Bay when a Facebook video of him performing it went viral in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Until the album comes out, The Dylan Black Project will continue to play live, and Sanders will continue to embrace the fact that everyone, Scaggs included, calls him Dylan.

"It's like Jethro Tull or Steely Dan—none of those people exist," he says. "I get a kick out of it."

The Dylan Black Project performs Thursday, Aug 29, at Windsor Town Green (701 McClelland Dr., Windsor. 6pm. Free. townofwindsor.com) and Saturday, Aug 31, at Redwood Café (8240 Old Redwood Hwy, Cotati. 8:30pm. $10. 707.795.7868).

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