By Jaime Peligro Photo by Alei Burn
Funny thing about bands who appear on the scene, becoming an “overnight sensation:” They are usually a group of seasoned musicians who have been playing for the love of it for years, if not decades. For example: BIG BRUTUS is a quartet that have recently created quite a buzz in Tamarindo, performing several times a week for the past few months. They currently play at La Oveja Negra on Saturdays, El Vaquero Sunday for sunset, and are now hosting the Monday Night Open Jam at Pasatiempo Hotel. One nice draw for these shows is that they all start relatively early in the evening: 4 p.m. in the afternoon at El Vaquero and 7 p.m. in the evening at Pasatiempo. They begin at 9 p.m. at La Oveja Negra.
Eric Atkinson (bass guitar) and Nick Barnett (rhythm guitar, chief songwriter and lead vocals) both hail from Joplin, Missouri, where Eric played in a band called The Naked Man Bridge. BIG BRUTUS named themselves after the giant claw-tractors used in Kansas and Missouri decades ago for land-mining. The dredged strips were later filled with water and seeded with bass, and in these spots the two friends would go fishing and play music.
Both were bitten by the Pura Vida bug and landed in Tamarindo, Atkinson nearly ten years ago and Barnett five years later. Tito Madoi, from Argentina, plays lead guitar with influences as varied as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Richie Blackmore. He played for years in Spain, opening for several name reggae bands. Madoi and Atkinson both played in the Tamarindo band Glasseye, while Eric was in local band Interiorama. And then we have Julio Tobias, who plays the cajon, a kind of amplified drum, tilted toward his lap. It creates a very definable, earthy percussive sound.
Their music is as varied as their backgrounds, meshing blues, samba, rock and blues into a brocade of sound. Without much pause, their music tends to segue from one song to the next, interspersing original songs (such as “Kings of the World,” “Come Back Home,” and “Disco Zacuate” ) with recognizable cover tunes like “Mrs Robinson” and their versions of “Too Hot To Handle” and The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back.”
“We put our own spin on them, make them our own, even the Lady Gaga and Britney Spears songs,” said Atkinson.
This foursome (along with Wils Milton occasionally on sax) has enough original material to record at least one album and in fact have been recording the past two years in the home studio of Derrick “Thickies” Poelsma, who also lends keyboard riffs.
“We definitely want to continue doing solid, professional recordings in the future,” Atkinson explained.
BIG BRUTUS are a mix of personality and talent, and their loyal following is the result of their persistent appearances around town. Atkinson said the band is always available to play, either for the public or for private parties. Either way, their whirlwind success has conquered Tamarindo overnight.
Check out their musical voyage on their Facebook page BIG BRUTUS.