Karl Denson was soaking in the sun while he could.

The multi-instrumentalist was in his native Southern California during a Jan. 13 phone interview.

He had just returned from the Jam Cruise, which sailed through the Caribbean, and was headed to Costa Rica, though he said he might have to wear long sleeves.

"I don't do bugs," he added.

The cruise is something Denson looks forward to each year. This was his 12th time joining the musical experience, which brings bands and fans together on the high seas. He said he's become great friends with other musicians on the bill.

"The best thing is watching the new music arrive, and watching the other guys who've been there for a long time mature," Denson said.

But, this week, he returns to January as his tour hits New England and Mid-Atlantic states.

On Sunday, Denson's group Tiny Universe will share the stage with Moe at York's Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

The show comes just as Karl Denson's Tiny Universe is stockpiling "New Ammo." The album drops Feb. 4, and Denson said it takes the band in a new direction.

"Musically, where we're at right now is really exciting," he said. "It really showcases what the band does really well. I feel like we found our stride with this record."

Denson said the bassist is into soundtracks and introduced the band to some funk and soul tunes from 1970s movies.

"We found this niche that we like," Denson added. "We have the horns, and we like the old grooves. It turned into a part of (our) sound. We're always a dance party."

Reinvention is one of Denson's favorite things about being a musician. A saxophonist, vocalist and flute player, Denson was part of Lenny Kravitz's band. He founded The Greyboy Allstars and joined the fusion rock group Slightly Stoopid. Denson has also done several musical tributes. In 2012, he did a Beastie Boys tribute with Slightly Stoopid.

"As soon as I mentioned it on the bus one night, they immediately went into the Beastie's repertoire," Denson said. "It was a ready-made thing."

And, around that time, Denson also started to learn guitar. At first, he mastered holding one chord during a song. But with practice and pointers from other musicians, Denson is getting the hang of it. He wrote the guitar riff for the song "My Baby," which is a duet on "New Ammo" that features singer/songwriter Nicki Bluhm.

As he celebrates the band's new sound and album, Denson is already moving ahead. He said feels like he's about halfway through the next album.

"My general outlook on it is that I enjoy my job, and it's always really fun," he said.

If you go

Moe will perform 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York. Karl Denson's Tiny Universe will open the show. Tickets cost $38. For details and tickets, call 717-846-1111 or visit

For details about Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, visit

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