Category: funk

Pocket Protection is an instrumental groove project that features a collection of accomplished New Orleans players including — The Revivalists‘ George Gekas (bass), Ed O’Brien (EOB)‘s PJ Morton‘s, Raphael Saadiq’s and Pretty Lights touring musician Alvin Ford, Jr. (drums), Lembo‘s and Deltaphonic‘s Paul Provosty (guitar, production) and Boogie T.Rio‘s and Cha Wa‘s Andrew Yanovski (keys).

Color Red Music will be releasing their debut EP Pocket Protection, Vol. 1 on May 4, 2021. The EP’s latest single “Paul P. Sure” is a strutting number that’s one part Allman Brothers-like Southern fried guitar rock, and one part retro-futuristic Stevie Wonder funk within an expansive and free-flowing jam-band like composition. The song’s origins have an interesting backstory: Originally brought in as a song sketch by the band’s Provosty, the remaining members fleshed it out further when they were all in the studio. The composition pulls some inspiration from The Derek Trucks Band’s “Kickin’ Back,” which interestingly enough, the band played during their first show together.

When it comes to titles, the band likes to play with words and the original title for the song was “Grateful Allmonds,” because the song combines elements of The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. They eventually changed the song’s title to “Paul P. Sure,”as a play on the guitarist’s name and Paulie Shore.

“Paul P. Sure defines the intention and essence of Pocket Protection. There were no blueprints or discussions to establish a game plan or any strict guidelines as to what everyone should do or play,” Pocket Proection’s George Gekas explains. “Instead, we relied on intuition and each other to continue to move the music forward. It felt right when we first performed together, made sense in the studio, and will continue to as a collective idea.”

Deriving their name from a slang phrase popularly used by Mardi Gras indian tribes that means “we’re comin’ for ya” or “here we come,” the Grammy Award-nominated New Orleans-based funk act Cha Wa — currently founding member and bandleader Joe Gelini, along with Spyboy J’Wan Boudreaux, Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux, Ari “Gato” Teitel, Joseph “Jose” Maize, Clifton “Spug” Smith, Aurelien Barnes, Eric “Bogey” Gordon, Edward “Juicey” Jackson and Haruka Kikuchi — can trace their origins back to 2014 when Gellni was first introduced to the Mardi Gras Indian tradition while attending Boston’Berklee College of Music, where he met New Orleans-born, jazz drummer Idris Muhammad, who gave Gellini lessons in New Orleans-styled drumming.

As the story goes, those lessons inspired Gellini to relocate to New Orleans after graduation. Gellini quickly became involved in the city’s beloved Mardi Gras Indian community, eventually attending rehearsals for Mardi Gras marches. Gellini met  Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief of the Golden Eagles and one of the city’s most widely known and popular Mardi Gras Indian vocalists at those rehearsals. Coincidentally, Boudreaux is the grandfather of Cha Wa’s frontman J’Wan Boudreaux.

Unsurprisingly those rehearsals eventually turned into Gellini performing alongside the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian legend. Gellini met J’Wan Boudreaux while the younger Boudreaux was still attending high school, but shortly after, J’Wan joined the band as their frontman. Since then, Cha Wa have established a sound and aesthetic that simultaneously draws from New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tradition and the city’s beloved rhythm and blues and funk sounds through the release of three albums — 2016’s debut Funk ‘N’ Feathers, 2018’s Grammy Award-nominated Spyboy and their most recent album, My People, which was released last week.

“Mardi Gras Indian tradition and culture goes back over 250 years in the city of New Orleans. And it’s a culture that derives from men of color wanting to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday but weren’t able to at the time,” Boudreaux explained in an interview with NPR. “So what they did was they created these elaborate suits…it represented the Native Americans that helped the Blacks escape slavery, and they actually helped them throughout the swamps and the bywater to get where they needed to go. So to pay homage to those natives, these men created what we call today Indian suits.” On the album Cha Wa founder Joe Gellni adds that the group “”tapped into that collective unconscious of what it is to live in New Orleans and to see all the nuances and ways that different people of color in the band actually experience racism — what sort of plight we’re facing in New Orleans socially and culturally, and class-wise and environmentally.”

My People‘s latest single, album title track “My People” is a strutting bit of funk that’s one-part classic second line march, one part The Meters, one part Nite Tripper-era Dr. John centered around a shuffling rhythm, shimmering Rhodes, a big horn section and call and response vocals singing lyrics that remind people of the universal facts of life: the rich get rich, while the sick get sicker; that while we have our differences, we have much more in common than we expect — we’ll all experience heartbreak, despair, frustration, loss, death. And if we can see that the universe in others, it may mean we get closer to understanding someone else’s life and their pain.

Although they haven’t been able to tour, as a result of the pandemic, but they have made a recent appearance on Good Morning America and on NPR, and that has allowed them to spread the album’s music and message to a much wider audience — and not just to those who will agree with them, but as Boudreaux explained to NPR “also to the people who may not be so open…just try to open up your eyes and see the world through the lens of the next person – the person that’s next to you, being held down by these different things like systematic oppression…if we don’t say anything about it, then no one will actually understand and know that we’re with them.” 

Back in 2004, Chicago-based producer David Vandenberg brought the Leeds-based funk act The New Mastersounds to the States as an opener for Greyboy All-Stars for what would be the acclaimed British act’s first Stateside tour. As the story goes, Vandenberg took The New Mastersounds’ guitarist, bandleader and producer Eddie Roberts out to Rosa’s, a legendary blues club on Chicago’s West Side on Roberts’ first night in town to catch local bluesman Omar Coleman, a local blues legend, who had been playing Rosa’s for decades. 17 years later, Roberts wound up producing Coleman’s forthcoming album Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times.

Slated for release this summer through Roberts’ own Color Red Music, the album’s title is an ode to The New Mastersounds 2001 debut, Keb Darge Presents: The New Mastersounds — and in many ways Coleman’s album finds Roberts, an acclaimed musician, bandleader and producer taking on the role of curator and influencer, championing and supporting artists he believes should be heard and loved.

Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times‘ latest single, album title track is a strutting and gritty synthesis of The Payback-era James Brown funk and Chicago blues within a classic 12 bar blues structure featuring a looping bluesy guitar line reminiscent of B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, an enormous horn line, bursts of shimmering strings and a funky bass line that would make Bootsy Collins‘ proud paired with Coleman’s powerhouse, soulful vocals. Lyrically, the song’s origins can be traced to a series of conversations Coleman had with Roberts during the album’s recording sessions about bizarre, infuriating and tragic state of America during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the exchange between the two kept turning back to the fact that we were all living in very strange times. Coleman took that and ran with it, immediately scribbling out incisive and fiery lyrics that accurately describe life in our very moment with the song talking about the abject poverty, desperation and uncertainty that hardworking and decent folks everywhere face. As the old saying the rich get richer while the poor get sicker.

Roberts’ recruited an accomplished backing band that features himself, Ghost Light’s Dan Africano (bass), Matador! Soul SoundsChris Spies (keys and organ), Dragondeer’s Carl Sorenson (drums), Lettuce‘s Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), Michal Menert‘s Nick Gerlach (sax), Adrienne Short (viola) and Kari Clifton (violin) to help him with a sonic approach that would combine classic blues with funkier blues. And to capture the rawness and immediacy of the material, they recorded it straight to tape on Color Red Studios’ Tascam 388. “I hear Omar’s voice as a cross between Muddy Waters and Charles Bradley,” Roberts says. “I tried to reflect those qualities in music approach and songwriting as well as the way we recorded the album and built the instrumentation of the tracks.”

Throwback: Black History Month: The Meters

Today is February 20, 2021. It’s the 20th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Mardi Gras was the other day and as a result I began thinking of New Orleans-and the city’s importance to American music and culture: an incredible and diverse array of artists have called New Orleans home. The Meters and their strutting, swampy funk came to mind. Countless acts have cited The Meters as an influence on them and their sound — and they’ve been sampled heavily by hip hop acts.

As I was looking for some live footage, I came across Dr. John’s TV special, Dr. John’s New Orleans Swamp, which coincidentally was the season finale of the Chicago-based PBS series Soundstage. Dr. John serves as an emcee and as a performer for the proceedings — and from what I understand, the show came on the heels of that year’s Destively Bonnaroo, the second consecutive album produced by the equally legendary Allen Toussaint and featuring The Meters as a backing band. Anyway, the show features a who’s who of New Orleans including Professor Longhair and Earl King. Of course, this is Nite Tripper-era Dr. John. Every single performance is amazing — and let it be a reminder of that New Orleans is the cradle of all of the music we love.

Throwback: Black History Month: Sly and The Family Stone

Today is February 20, 2021. It’s the 20th day of Black History Month. And as I’ve mentioned throughout this series, I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles — with the hopes that it’ll be a bit of a primer on the Black experience and on Black music.

Of course, I hope that these posts will serve as a reminder of these very important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

After coming across an Instagram post that mentioned Woodstock, I immediately thought of the 1970 documentary film on the legendary three-day music festival, appropriately named after the festival. Out of many highlights, my mind’s eye turned to Sly and The Family Stone, whose performance in the film is electrifying — and electrifying in a way that brings Otis Redding at Monterrey Pop Festival and James Brown on T.A.M.I. Show to mind.

The live footage above should remind you of a few things:

Sly and The Family Stone are a vision of the future: the band featured men and women, Black people and white people and anyone else, who could sing and play — having fun and just accepting everyone else for being themselves. We should be working towards that world right now!
There was maybe a 5-7 year period where Sly and The Family Stone may have been one of the best bands in the entire world.

Throwback: Black History Month: Nile Rodgers

Today is the 16th day of February — and the 16th day Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Nile Rodgers has written, cowritten and/or produced some of the biggest and most beloved dance floor and pop hits of the past 50 years while working with a who’s who list of artists across a diverse and eclectic array of artists. I’d guarantee that Rodgers has worked with an artist you love on a song you love. And as a result, his sound and approach has been instrumental in your life.

Throwback: Black History Month: Parliament-Funkadelic

Amazingly, the month has managed to fly by: Today is February 13, the 13th day of Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

As a child, I grew up listening to a lot of Parliament Funkadelic. I pretty much know the smash hits and the super deep cuts forward and backwards. Besides James Brown, can you think of an act that’s more beloved, influential than Parliament Funkadelic?

Throwback: Black History Month: James Brown

Amazingly, the month has managed to fly by: Today is February 13, the 13th day of Black History Month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been proudly featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles with the hopes that these artists can guide you towards further understanding of the Black experience.

As the month goes on, I hope that you’ll be reminded of these urgently important facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

James Brown is without a doubt, one of the most important and influential artists of the past century. Rock, soul, R&B, dance music, pop, funk and hip-hop all are indebted to the legendary godfather of soul, the soul brother #1. Sadly, I never got a chance to see Brown live — but if you saw him in the height of his powers, Brown was a transcendent performer.

Seriously, can you think of anything more righteous than James Brown playing “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” in Kinshasa? Probably not.

Throwback: Black History Month: Roy Ayers

Today is the eighth day of Black History Month. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few days of this month, you’d see that I’ve been featuring Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience.

Through the month — and throughout the year, I hope that you’ll come to understand and appreciate the following:

Black culture is American culture
Black music is American music.
Black history is American history.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
You can’t love black art and black artists without loving black people.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

If James Brown and Parliament Funkddelic are among the most sampled artists ever, Roy Ayers is likely the third most ever. His work automatically creates nostalgia for summer afternoon picnics with your family — but perhaps even more important, for being cool, groovy and defiantly and jubilantly Black.

Throwback: Black History Month: Prince

Today is the first day of Black History Month. And throughout this month I’ll feature Black artists across a wide and eclectic array of genres and styles that I think can guide you towards understanding the Black experience. Throughout the month I hope that you’ll appreciate these facts:

Black culture is American culture — and Black music is American music.
America’s greatest and beloved contributions to the world are Black music styles — the blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Black art matters.
Black lives matter — all of them, all of the time.

Prince. I mean what the fuck can I say about Prince? I don’t think the guy was capable of writing a bad song, ever. So enjoy some of my personal favorites from the Purple One.