Soulful Ziek McCarter leads funky San Francisco outfit Con Brio, which appears New Year’s Eve at Bottom of the Hill. (Courtesy photo)

Con Brio’s Ziek McCarter takes lessons in rap

Soul singer collaborates with Lyrics Born

Attending ho-hum high school in Houston, Ziek McCarter had grown fairly fixated on far-off San Francisco. “It was always a dream of mine to live here. I was just drawn to its energy and culture,” says the singer, who relocated to The City immediately upon graduation and soon assembled the sax-and-trumpet driven old-school funk band Con Brio. “Plus, my mother was born and raised here, so I have a lot of family in the Bay Area.” At only 18, he nevertheless had relatives to stay with, songs in his head and solid day jobs at Target Serramonte, then Lucky supermarket in SAn Francisco while he found his soulful sound. Now, after two socio-political-minded albums, 2016’s “Paradise” and 2018’s “Explorer,” he’s working with longtime heroes like Lyrics Born, with whom Con Brio just cut two new singles, “Sundown” and “Mistakes.”

You seem to long for a bygone era of Parliament/Funkadelic, Graham Central Station.

I love the classics, that’s for sure. Especially considering the influence that it had on the culture here in the Bay Area. It’s so rich, from bands like Sly and the Family Stone to Tower of Power, who we opened up for not too long ago. And that was amazing, truly a dream come true. And we’ve covered “What Is Hip” before, and to actually be among the greats, the pioneers of Bay Area funk and R&B music, was an honor. We had a great time. And we played a festival with Larry Graham before, and I got to sing onstage with him.

Who was your biggest retro influence?

I would say that the artist that struck me the most when I moved to the Bay Area was Sly and the Family Stone. I saw the Family Stone at Stern Grove, and I had heard “Everyday People” and how other artists sampled it, but when I heard the music live, it just impacted me so much, I just became immersed in the whole catalog. It had a lot of firepower and soul in it that really inspired me to move. And we also got to play a Sly tribute show through Undercover Presents.

When you first met Lyrics Born at a 2017 show in Oregon, he said he wanted to work with you. And he meant it.

Yeah. We actually made it happen. We just finished touring with him and now we have two singles out. He’s a great guy, very skilled and talented. And I learned a lot about the craft of songwriting from him. Him being a rapper, I really studied his wordplay and how he’s able to paint a picture with words. It was an amazing collaboration.

IF YOU GO

Con Brio

Where: Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31

Tickets: $55 to $60

Contact: (415) 626-4455, bottomofthehill.com

Pop Music

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The admissions process at the academically competitive Lowell High School is set to change this year due to coronavirus restritions. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Lowell’s selective admissions process put on hold this year — and more changes may be in the works

School board votes unanimously to use normal student assignment lottery for competitive school

Dr. Vincent Matthews, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, said Tuesday that student would not be back in school before the end of this calendar year. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Superintendent: City schools will not reopen before the end of the year

San Francisco public schools won’t reopen to students for the rest of… Continue reading

San Francisco will allow bars selling drinks, and not food, to begin serving customers outdoors under health guidelines going into effect next month. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF becomes first Bay Area County to move to least restrictive COVID-19 category

Change to ‘yellow’ will allow more indoor dining and fitness, reopening non-essential offices

City officials want to install more red light cameras but the process is costly and time consuming. (Shutterstock)
Transit officials push for more red light cameras

SFMTA says ‘capital crunch’ and dragging timelines make expanding the program cumbersome

Police release an image a cracked windshield on a Prius that Cesar Vargas allegedly tried to carjack. Vargas, who was shot by police a short time later, can be seen in videos jumping on the windshield and pushing a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus. (Courtesy SFPD
SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

Most Read