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JC Brooks brings his punk-soul Uptown Sound to New York

JC Brooks, second from left, and the Uptown

JC Brooks, second from left, and the Uptown Sound. Credit: JC Brooks, second from left, and the Uptown Sound.

Chicago's JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound describe themselves as a punk-soul band, meaning they take the traditional soul of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett and combine it with the rawness of The Clash.

Perhaps the thing they have most in common with all of those artists is a sense of showmanship.

Brooks got his start acting in Chicago productions of "Ragtime" and "Passing Strange," and even as his musical career takes off, he still considers theater his first love.

Your new material emphasizes your punk influences. Is it still danceable? Yes. We just want to add more stuff to the repertoire. It's important that people know we do more than just soul. ... There's a lot more we have to offer.

Your breakthrough single was a cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." What inspired that? We were just goofing around. At the time, we were working with [classic soul singer] Syl Johnson, who had a huge personality and were talking about what it would sound like if he covered Chicago bands.

How did Wilco find out about it? I'm still not entirely clear. But we were pleasantly surprised that they liked what we did, especially since it was such a departure.

How would you describe your live show? We like to shake, we like to sweat. If people want to have good time, we'll definitely help to get them there. Usually audiences like to come on that journey with us. 

If you go: JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are at Brooklyn Bowl at 8 p.m. on Friday, 61 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg, 718-963-3369, $10.

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