Artist Profile: Pocket Bandits

A couple of weeks back, I wrote an artist profile on the band Front & Main, and one of my many takeaways from their sound was the outrageously talented Samuel B. Lupowitz, whom I’d rank up there with Tyson Alston as one of the region’s top keyboardists. So I was definitely excited to check out another of his projects, Pocket Bandits. And I’m very pleased to report that this exceptional funk-fusion trio hailing from Ithaca does not disappoint.

Aptly describing themselves as “funk, prog, jazz, rock, and more”, Pocket Bandits throw hearty helpings of virtuosity into each song, producing a full, rich, textured sound that’s rather heavier than you might expect from their tagline. The drums are mind-bogglingly good, with flawless, tight, agile guitar playing that captures the Les Paul’s distinct sound profile beautifully. And then of course there’s the aforementioned keys, which paint a gorgeously jazzy and funky backdrop.

There’s a certain depth and a sort of avante garde flair here that very passively reminds me of Medeski, Martin, and Wood, not so much sonically as creatively. That musical fearlessness of bobbing and weaving around one another to ensure no space is left unmarked. They avoid one of my personal fusion no-nos of strictly sticking to the sheets—these guys are feeling and grooving their way into those technical spaces, and that’s always a thrill to take in.


Pocket Bandits first formed and started gigging back in 2021, but they made big strides toward establishing themselves in the fall of 2023. They’ve been performing around the Ithaca region and working as a backing band for other regional artists, and soon they’ll be spreading into broader spaces throughout the region.

Drummer Simon Bjarning provides Pocket Bandits with an astonishing rhythm jam-packed with beautiful complexity. Not that we should be all too surprised, given his impressive CV. Bjarning is an alumnus of the Royal Danish Academy of Music and has worked with Evanescence, Hanson, Celtic Thunder, Sarah Brightman, and Denmark’s major symphony orchestras. He also performs with OXtet and the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes.

Guitarist Joe Massa has worked with Lupowitz in several groups including Noon Fifteen, Thru Spectrums, and Kitestring amongst other acts. Separately, they’ve worked with Jeff Love Band, Maddy Walsh & the Blind Spots, and as we mentioned earlier, Front & Main.

Pocket Bandits are planning on releasing their debut single on April 5th, and aim to also release their freshman LP later this year. We’re excited to hear what they’ve got in the works, and we’re hoping to review both releases as soon as we have our hands on them.

Pocket Bandits (left to right): Joe Massa, Simon Bjarning, and Samuel B. Lupowitz
Pocket Bandits (left to right): Joe Massa, Simon Bjarning, and Samuel B. Lupowitz

Learn more about Pocket Bandits

Pocket Bandits are an up-and-coming band well worth keeping an eye on in the 607 region. And we’d love to see them hop down the road and perform in Greater Binghamton, too! In the meantime, be sure to check them out online by visiting their website and following them on the social platform(s) of your choice:

Pocket Bandits are an unsigned, self-represented band. For bookings and press/ media inquiries, please contact them through their website’s contact form or via email at

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