Stanley Kipper uses genres like seasonings to enliven his music with rock ‘n’ roll, ska, R&B, reggae and a great helping of funk.
“You’ve got to like spicy food,” said Kipper with a hearty laugh.
Kipper’s group, New Primitives, that has won Best Reggae Band at the Minnesota Music Awards four times, will roll into Sioux City for the second time this weekend. The band played Fridays in the Promenade in 2011 and will take the stage at Vangarde Arts, 420 Jackson St., at 8 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 25).
But Kipper’s music, which has led Minneapolis' New Primitives for more than a decade, is less of what you’d expect from the Midwest and more of what you’d hear on the streets of New Orleans or Miami with influences from reggae and Afro Cuban rock.
And, perhaps, Stanley Kipper himself. The long-time musician said he’s allergic to wind chill, becoming a gentleman of the indoors during Minnesota winters.
Kipper grew up in the Minneapolis area listening to music like War, Santana and Traffic, but soon into adulthood, he became a professional musician traveling and playing around the country. He founded New Primitives with his former Gypsy band member Chico Perez. Both musicians are members of the Midwestern Rock and Country Hall of Fame.
“Some people make steel; some people make cars,” Kipper said. “We make songs; we make beats. That’s what we do.”
With five decades performing as a percussionist, Kipper can tell stories of his teenage years when he was just starting out as a musician to performing with Jay Ferguson and the Bee Gees as a drummer in Los Angeles. He’s also taken the stage with Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley.
“To be on stage with those guys made me crazy in a good way,” Kipper said. “It changed my life. Let me know that I was on the right path with what I was trying to do with these beats.”
Percussion still comes to the forefront in Kipper’s writing. In the last year with a solid group of musicians behind him, Kipper said, the group has just been on fire.
“We’re trying to get that music to reflect our background,” Kipper said. In New Primitives, he plays trap drums, timbales and percussion and takes lead on vocals.
New Primitives came out with a sophomore album, “American Nomad,” after about four years of work on the tracks. The group hopes to start work on a new album in the next few weeks.
“We’re trying to bring it the way we know it and the way we learned it,” said Kipper, adding that New Primitives isn’t exactly a reggae band, switching from genre to genre in the course of a set.
“We don’t care about the way you do it. We do it the way we do it.”
On stage, New Primitives pulls out a repertoire of original music as well as its unique take on some classics. The group plays songs like “Imagination,” “My Girl” and “Ring of Fire” with a reggae feel, which was on their self-titled album from 2008. Kipper also said they can’t get off stage without playing the Neville Brothers and Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up,” “Wake Up and Live” and a ska-ed up version of “Simmer Down.”
“We have so much music to play,” he said. “We generally run out of time before we run out of music.”
In general, Kipper said, New Primitives avoids using setlists. Instead, he lets the audience and vibe of the room dictate the music.
“Basically everything we play gets people moving,” Kipper said.
He recommends audiences wear comfortable clothes and shoes for all that moving.
“We just really want people to come out there and lose themselves in the grooves,” he said. “Our main goal is to make people feel like a million dollars.”
And with New Primitives, Kipper plans to keep doing that for a long time.
“It’s great to know that when we roll in there, we can make people forget about whatever problems they’ve got going,” he said. “We still have a lot of songs and lot of shows to do.”