Ridgefield saxophonist featured on Food Network
As soon as Tommy Weeks steps on stage, he starts bouncing –– saxophone included.
He says it’s all about creating a feeling.
“I feel like I can control people’s emotions,” the Ridgefield resident said.
“That’s why I am so energetic and happy. I’m jumping all over the stage and I want people in the audience to do the same thing.”
Weeks had the chance to use that same energy in “Guy’s Grocery Games” Food Network studio last October.
Guy Fieri invited him and his fellow bandmates from Sophistafunk to compose this season’s theme song and record it in California.
Weeks said it was a surreal experience.
“It was crazy, it was awesome, they took such good care of us,” he said.
“My favorite part was seeing how everything worked behind the scenes, all the different cameras they had and how efficiently they worked together.”
Sophistafunk first got involved with Fieri five years ago, when the band was filmed in an episode of his other show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” which took place at keyboardist Adam Gold’s Syracuse eatery, Funk and Waffles.
Although Weeks joined the band in the winter of 2016, he knows its story.
“After recording the show, Adam gave him a CD right before he left,” said the saxophonist, who graduated from Ridgefield High School in 2009.
“And he [Fieri] called him from his car and was like, ‘This is amazing, I want you to play my birthday party.’”
Since then, they have played their unique mix of funk and hip-hop at Fieri’s events every year and made other connections.
Recently, Weeks had the opportunity to play at Kid Rock’s Super Bowl party with Sophistafunk.
A lifetime in music
Weeks has been playing the saxophone for 15 years, ever since he first picked it up in sixth grade. He graduated from UConn as a music major in 2013.
“I knew I wanted to be a professional musician pretty much my whole life,” he said.
It hasn’t been an easy road.
Before being able to dedicate all his time to music, Weeks held several unrelated jobs to get by, including waiting tables and working in retail.
His first big break came with his other band, Funky Dawgz, which started during his days in the UConn marching band. All the members were part of it and branched off — originally as an academic group, and later as a New Orleans-style brass band.
In 2015, Funky Dawgz played with Dispatch at Madison Square Garden.
Weeks divides his time between his two bands, while giving private saxophone lessons in town when he’s not on the road performing.
“All I do is teach and play music — that’s my job now,” he said. “Finally, I was able to put all that aside and get by just by playing.”
TV — now what?
Weeks said the future holds big things for Sophistafunk, and he hopes to keep on growing as a musician.
“I never thought we would be on TV,” Weeks said. “Who knows what’s coming up next?”
He’s already experimenting with producing his own sound.
“I don’t want to be a one-trick pony,” he said. “I have a lot of ideas, and the more I do it, the better I get at it.”
Sophistafunk will be going on tour next month to promote their new album being released Feb. 14.
The Funky Dawgz will be playing at Ridgefield Playhouse during its Fat Tuesday celebration Tuesday, Feb. 28.