Jack Fennimore
Jazz in the Park

Questions for Primitive Culture

Popular, eclectic Madison-based band plays Thursday at Cathedral Square.

By - Aug 4th, 2015 02:31 pm
Primitive Culture

Primitive Culture

Primitive Culture is a highly eclectic band whose music mixes reggae, funk, Latin and blues music.  Its experienced musicians have united for one purpose: “to create a unique blend of Funk, Blues, and Tropical rhythms that warms the soul and moves the feet,” as the band’s website notes. They perform at this week’s Jazz in the Park, Thursday at 6pm in Cathedral Square Park.

David Hecht, who plays guitar and vocals, hails from south Texas, an area saturated with tex-mex swing, mariachi and Latin music as well as 60’s and 70’s funk and rock music. He moved to Madison, Wisconsin at age 14 and graduated from UW-Madison. He also performed with Bruce and Don Neviaser in their band, Harold and the Rhinos, during that time. He eventually formed the popular touring act known as JAVA, which opened for such notable acts as Elton John, the Pointer Sisters, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers and Los Lobos. After eight years of playing in JAVA, Hecht traveled to and lived in Latin America to hone his skills as a solo performer. He then traveled to Colorado to perform at ski resorts in the Rockies. In 1998, he returned to Madison and assembled the band we know today as Primitive Culture.

Robert Julius Corbit joins Hecht as the band’s saxophone and vocal performer. Like Hecht, Corbit is an experienced musician who has performed with the likes of Ike & Tina Turner, Mr. Brown, The Waves Band, Jimmy Carl Black (Frank Zappa‘s ex-drummer), The Roots Band, and W. C. Clarke.

After perfoming with Hecht as part of Harold and the Rhinos, Bruce Neviaser became part of Primitive Culture as the band’s bass guitar and vocal performer. Jerry Neviaser, the band’s drummer, was one of Hecht’s earliest jamming partners and previously performed with the electronica project, State4. Greg Marsh occasionally drums for the band.

Phil Lyons rounds out the band with his combination of percussion, horns and vocals. He has performed with a large variety of bands including Tony Brown, Clyde Stubblefield, Freedy Johnston, Firetown, The O’bros and Emmettville. He returned to Wisconsin from New York in 1984.

For a sample of their music, checkout this YouTube video.

Hecht responded to our questions via email.

How did your band meet/start playing together?

David, Jerry and Bruce met in high school! Learned the ropes together! Bob and Phil are highly sought after session players in Madison.

How did you get involved in Jazz in the Park?

John Ertl used to book Java and heard the buzz about Primitive Culture so he booked us!

Who are your main musical influences?

Too many! Bob Marley, Santana, Van Morrison, Dylan, The Beatles, lots of Latin and Jazz.

How would you describe your style of music?

Hybrid – taking a little from all of these styles.

How do you try to connect to and work the audience?

With the music! We’ll also tell a few lies, bad jokes.

How would you describe the state of music today?

Musically thriving but it is hard to “make it” – especially for jazz players.

How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children, job?

With tact and humor!

What is your favorite thing to see in the audience while you are on stage?


What are some of your most memorable experiences performing on stage?

Too many to list! Mainly playing for huge crowds, opening for some major stars, etc…

What are your hopes and aspirations for the band?

More Milwaukee shows!

Where are you performing next/ where can people see you?

Mostly Madison area, Burlington B-Town Sounds Festival, UW campus concerts around the state.

Is there a musician dead or alive that you would love to perform with?

Hendrix, Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder.

What is your favorite song that you perform and why?

“Hook Up” — great horn lines and a funky, danceable Latin groove.

How do you handle making mistakes during a live set?

Mistakes? Never! Its all part of the adventure…

Where are your favorite places to perform?

On the lake, in front of thousands of dancing folks at summertime outside venues!

How is performing your music different from playing other genres?

More improvisational!

What do you think of Milwaukee as a musical city?

Great! Would love to be here more often!

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