Lake Street Dive was ready for its close-up, which came courtesy of YouTube rather than Mr. DeMille.
The band’s performance video of the Jackson 5 hit “I Want You Back” generated Internet buzz shortly after Lake Street Dive posted it on YouTube in May to promote its covers EP, “Fun Machine.” The sass ’n’ class clip shows singer Rachael Price, bassist Bridget Kearney, trumpet player and guitarist Mike Olson, and drummer Mike Calabrese delivering a smoky soul rendition of the tune outdoors on a Boston neighborhood sidewalk. To date, the video has been seen more than 500,000 times, and got a little help when actor Kevin Bacon tweeted the clip.
But unlike a lot of Web sensations, Lake Street Dive had substance behind the flash.
“The video definitely sparked things, but we had eight years of touring together by that point and our show was polished. So anyone who came to see us live after seeing the video could see that we had a lot to back it up,” Price says.
The members of Lake Street Dive met while students at the New England Conservatory and played around the city for several years before relocating as a group to New York City. But the fan base here is still sizable, so much so that Lake Street Dive decided that if it was going to return to its old haunt the Lizard Lounge, it would have to be done as a four-night stand to accommodate demand. The band also plays one show at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on Friday.
Lake Street Dive fuses two currently popular trends — retro soul and string-band folk. But it’s not a straight-up Adele-meets-Avetts sound.
“Some of what we do is definitely trendy right now, but these have always been core elements in the band,” says Price. “When we formed, we had no guitar. Mike [Olson] was just playing trumpet.”
But as the band developed, it got its pop chops, putting catchy hooks into the smartly arranged jazz, soul, and roots elements the members brought into the band.
“We hadn’t settled on a sound when we started. After three or four years we decided to be more soulful and funky. I always sang jazz and soul, so that’s where I was most comfortable,” Price says.
Kearney’s rustic bass plucking, Olson’s bright horn parts (he still plays the trumpet even now with the band’s more pronounced guitar parts), and Calabrese’s full-bodied drumming work interesting details into the band’s R&B/pop foundation.
This unorthodox hodgepodge opened a variety of doors in 2012. The band fit into the folksy vibe of Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion” and recently completed dates with progressive bluegrass band Infamous Stringdusters. In a couple of weeks, Lake Street Dive will be out with Yonder Mountain String Band — more pickers — then team with soul legends Mavis Staples and later Lee Fields.
“No one knows exactly what kind of band to put us with, but the bluegrass shows have been fun,” says Price.
And fun is important to this band. The Lizard series, for example, will have Boys Nights and Girls Nights. The guys’ nights will feature opener Madam Macadam, a side project for Olson and Calabrese. The gals’ nights will feature the Fundies, a band with Price and Kearney. And neither opener sounds like an echo of Lake Street Dive.
“We’re insatiable when it comes to learning about music and exploring music. I think part of being a musician is exploring other sides of your musicianship,” says Calabrese. “It’s a good way to cleanse your palette.”
Calabrese and Olson formed Madam Macadam with Will Graefe and Matt Meyer from Miss Tess and the Talkbacks (friends from Jamaica Plain as well as Signature Sounds record-label mates) and the band tips more toward fuzzed-out rock.
Kearney and Price join Crooked Still fiddler Brittany Haas and singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy in the Fundies. The band released a country-flavored EP in the summer.
“When we started, we had a lot of playfulness, but ultimately that alone wasn’t satisfying, not to the extent that we wanted to take the band,” Calabrese says. “It was the songs then that became the focus. We became way more serious about arrangements and vibe, and honing the sound.”
But Calabrese assures, “we still play around a lot.”
While “I Want You Back” became a calling card for Lake Street Dive, the band’s originals are impressive in their own right. “Hello? Goodbye!” finds its groove in samba; “Funny Not to Care” is ethereal blues; and “Don’t Make Me Hold Your Hand” offers fresh soul-pop. The band has an album’s worth of new songs to play alongside these concert staples. That new record will be out this year and much touring will ensue.
While Lake Street Dive’s material makes it a good fit on many different bills, there’s one in particular Calabrese would like to see happen.
“I fantasize about the day we open for Bonnie Raitt and she and Rachael sing together,” he says.
And it’s a fantasy that actually seems to make a lot of sense.
Lake Street Dive
At: Narrows Center for the Arts, 16 Anawan St., Fall River.
Friday, 8 p.m. Tickets: $18-$20. 508-324-1926, www.narrowscenter.org. Also at the Lizard Lounge, 1667 Massachusetts Ave.,
Cambridge, Wednesday and Thursday, 8:30 p.m. with Madam Macadam; next Friday and next Saturday, 8:30 p.m. with the Fundies.
Tickets: $15 per night. 617-547-0759, www.lizardloungeclub.comScott McLennan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottMcLennan1.