A recent issue of The Roslyn News detailed the evolution of Dave Brandwein’s music career. That evolution has come full circle with the release of Sleeping Sun, Waking Moon, Brandwein’s first solo album, released by Band for Sale Music.
When Bob Dylan, in 1965, released Bringing It All Back Home, folk music critics were in a tizzy. How could Dylan, the most accomplished folkie of his day, go electric? As a youngster in Minnesota, Dylan listened to all types of music, rock n’ roll included. Woody Guthrie had turned him into a folk artist. Dylan’s turn to the electric represented a return to his 1950s-style roots: Before Guthrie, there was Elvis Presley.
Such is true with Dave Brandwein. For the past decade, the Roslyn native has guided the growth of Turkuaz, the nine-piece funk band that he joined while still a student at Berklee College, one that grew into an international touring powerhouse.
By 2021, Turkuaz fell apart. Brandwein, however, soldiered on. The result is the new album.
“People are going to hear this music and think it’s some kind of departure for me,” says Brandwein, “but the truth is that Turkuaz has always been the departure. I grew up on The Beatles, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, and the sounds of the 60’s and 70’s. This album is who I’ve always been deep down.”
Early reviews have been positive enough. Live for Live Music hails the effort as “Earworm melodies that recall an early Paul Simon. Brandwein crafts breezy compositions that are somehow new and nostalgic.”
Americana Highways adds that the album contains “pleasant, air melodies, well-arranged with breezy choruses that embellish the simple music…a folky element that is doused with a liberal amount of progressive rock layers. There are moments that sparkle and moments that cruise.”
The release accompanying the album seconds those views.
“Recorded on and off over the past decade, Sleeping Sun, Waking Moon is indeed a revelatory and deeply personal record for Brandwein, who produced and mixed the entire album himself. Blending British Invasion charm with classic rock grit and folk intimacy, it’s a timeless, breezy collection, one that manages to feel both deliberate and spontaneous, polished and raw, modern and retro all at once.
The record’s arrangements are warm and lush, at times calling to mind everything from Harry Nilsson to The Jayhawks, and the lyrics are similarly amiable, never giving up hope even as they reckon with loneliness, isolation, and doubt. Brandwein wrote and re-wrote much of the album several times over the years, and the benefit of hindsight proves to be a blessing here, both for the material and the performances, which are bolstered by appearances from former Lucius vocalist Andrew Burri, Train drummer Matt Musty, Grace Potter bassist Kurtis Keber, Stepkids drummer Tim Walsh, and original London Souls bassist Kiyoshi Matsuyama, among other special guests. The result is a captivating, charismatic debut that collapses ten years into forty minutes, a mature, heartfelt ode to growth, discovery, and finding peace in your present circumstances, whatever they may be.”
Brandwein’s musical journey began in Roslyn, where he started playing the piano, then the trumpet and finally, the guitar, all as he made his way through elementary and secondary schools. Last year, in an interview with The Roslyn News, Brandwine praised his music teacher, Frank DiFafi, for encouraging his musical progress.
At Roslyn High School, Brandwin played in a jazz band, which in turn performed for the Royal Crown Players’ many fine performances. Also at Roslyn High School, Brandwein first learned about studio technology: producing and mixing musical tracks.
Turkuaz was formed at Berklee, located in Boston. After graduation, the band relocated to Brooklyn. On thr road, it performed with, among other acts, the Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison and guitar legend Adrian Belew.
After the band split, Brandwein relocated to Los Angeles, setting up a home studio in the City of Angels. Brandwein began writing and producing for other bands, coming full circle with the completion of the final two Turkuaz albums, Paradiso and Apollyon (released in September 2022), and the first releases from two new projects: New Originals (a collaboration with producer Rob O’Block) and the solo project, Band For Sale.
“We toured for 10 years, 200 days a year,” Brandwein recalled. Now it’s back to the studio. Brandwein describes the past two years as an “extremely transitional” time for him. His new songs deal with “struggles, isolation and the pandemic,” adding that the entire experience has proved cathartic for him.
On the album, Brandwein not only provides lead vocals. He is also the producer and plays all the instruments, including bass, guitars, rhodes, synthesizer, organ, wurlitzer, piano, and percussion.