It’s been more than a decade since local funk and R&B ensemble Gran Torino broke up. Even though several of the band’s members have stayed active around town—frontman Chris Ford owns Sweet P’s Barbeque and Soul House in South Knoxville, trumpeter P.J. Alexander always seems to be playing in at least two or three bands at a time, and a few members get together every year to celebrate a James Brown Christmas—the group hasn’t performed together as Gran Torino since 2003.
That’s all set to change in a couple of months, when the band will get together for one more show, a fund-raiser for the Bijou Theatre on Saturday, March 15, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30; VIP packages, which include admission to a sound-check party and complimentary drinks, are also available for $100.
“I had not thought about the band in a long time,” Ford says in an e-mail. “Some of the other guys had recently started talking about the idea but I was still pretty hesitant. I am on the board of the Bijou and have been involved with the Jubilee, the theater’s annual fund-raiser. This year [Bijou board member] Michele Purcell approached me about Gran Torino reuniting for the Jubilee and I blew her off. She was persistent and eventually broke me down. The guys were totally behind the idea. ... [G]etting to support and give back to the arts community in Knoxville after what we have received from that community made it a no-brainer.”
Ford’s insistent that the reunion show is a one-off deal; there won’t be any more shows (it’s hard to get nearly a dozen guys together) and there are no plans for recording.