It's been more than a decade since local funk and R&B ensemble Gran Torino broke up. Even though several of the band's members have stayed active--frontman Chris Ford owns Sweet P's Barbeque and Soul House in South Knoxville, trumpeter P.J. Alexander always seems to be playing in at least two or three bands at a time, and a few members get together every year to celebrate a James Brown Christmas--the group hasn't performed together as Gran Torino since 2003.
That's all set to change in a couple of months, when the band will get together for one more show, a fund-raiser for the Bijou Theatre on Saturday, March 15, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30; VIP packages, which include admission to a soundcheck party and complimentary drinks, are also available for $100.
"I had not thought about the band in a long time," Ford says in an e-mail. "Some of the other guys had recently started talking about the idea but I was still pretty hesitant. I am on the board of the Bijou and have been involved with the Jubilee, the theater's annual fund-raiser. This year Michele Purcell approached me about Gran Torino reuniting for the Jubilee and I blew her off. She was persistent and eventually broke me down. The guys were totally behind the idea. ... [G]etting to support and give back to the arts community in Knoxville after what we have received from that community made it a no brainer."
Ford's insistent that the reunion show is a one-off deal; there won't be any more shows--it's hard to get nearly a dozen guys together--and there are no plans for recording.