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Tony! Toni! Tone! To Play First San Jose Music Fest

In Music
Tony! Toni! Toné! play the San Jose Music Fest.

Tony! Toni! Toné! play the San Jose Music Fest.

Though the weather is shifting and summer is officially over, those familiar with the Bay Area’s peculiar weather know that a few hot days still remain this year. And with the help of one of the biggest acts ever to come out of the East Bay, it’s going to feel like summer in October at Plaza de Cesar Chavez this weekend.

That’s the site of the first-ever San Jose Music Fest, slated for this Saturday and featuring the seminal neo-soul outfit Tony! Toni! Toné!, along with Jingo Santana’s Roar (a Santana tribute band), local guitarist RJae Haas, Dakila, Lumbre and more.

It has been a quarter of a century since the Oakland-based group Tony! Toni! Toné! helped redefine what an R&B song could be, and according to the group’s guitarist and vocalist, D’wayne Wiggins, the band is still as forward-thinking as ever.

Wiggins says his group is currently working on new music and toward the release of a box set, which will feature all four Tony! Toni! Toné! full-length albums, T-shirts and other memorabilia. But as excited as he is for his upcoming shows and pending box set (set for release in 2015), Wiggins really wants to talk about technology and all the doors it has opened for Tony! Toni! Toné!

The group recently listed its new song, “It’s a Beautiful Thing”—the first Tony! Toni! Toné! track in almost 20 years—on The New York Rock Exchange, which functions like a stock exchange for music, with fans buying and selling a limited number of certified copies of a song or album.

It makes sense that Wiggins would be excited about The New York Rock Exchange. For starters, it was founded in his backyard—the company is based in Emeryville. Also, Tony! Toni! Toné! made its way to the top of the charts by pushing the boundaries.

Wiggins’ band was one of the first groups to be identified as “neo-soul”—a label they garnered by combining hip-hop-style drum-machine beats and synthesizers with live instruments. With songs like “If I Had No Loot” and “Lay Your Head On My Pillow,” the band melded boom-bap rhythms and funky keyboard sounds with soulful vocals and guitars.

It was a time when hip-hop was taking over the mainstream, but few artists in the R&B world were interested in the technology rap producers were using. Perhaps because the synth sounds available at the time were thought to be too gritty sounding. But Wiggins didn’t see it that way. “That’s what makes it so fly,” he says—“that dirty sound.”

 Tony! Toni! Toné! play the San Jose Music Fest Saturday, Oct. 18. More info.

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