Get the funk out 

You can judge a band by its name, but do you have to?

Four out of four Independent writers within earshot of my grousing agree: As a listener, you can never (well, almost never) get enough funk, but as a reader you get altogether too much of it, almost all the time. Why is it that funk bands, more so than bands in any other genre, so often feel compelled to point out that they play funk music right in the band name? The entertainment listings of this paper and papers like it across the country are littered with Funk Projects, Funk Convocations, Funk Congresses, Funk Protectorates and so on like so many phone-sex ads. Frankly, it takes some of the fun out of the pigeonholing when the band goes the extra compliant step of doing it for you!

I just don’t think that a good band should have to rely on a name with an explicitly instructional quality to lead people to it. When I finally put this journalism business behind me and get serious about my divine calling as Universal Band Name Approver, one of my first orders of business will be a mass renaming of self-referential funk bands to remove the offending modifier and give them more individual character. Also high on the to-do list: forcibly divesting bluegrass bands of the wearisome [Blank] Creek naming paradigm, zapping the city of Boulder, Colo. with a massive electromagnetic pulse to completely erase the [Blank] Mountain [Blank] Band naming scheme from living memory, and cleaning proverbial house on any and all bands with food words, sauces or condiments or the word “soul” in their handles. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but since I’ve already elected myself to the position for life, I’m in no particular hurry. There’s also local business to sort out first [Confidential to R.F: “Off the Couch” isn’t going to cut it in this man’s local bandnameshed.]

In any event, when you’re playing in the upper bracket of the funk finals like Global Funk Council, the nominal funk distinction is generally unnecessary. The band contains former members of Giant People, Greyboy Allstars and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, so it’s unlikely that followers of those bands need the reassurance of funk in the name of a new supergroup to know that former Robert Walter and Karl Denson colleagues aren’t going to make a crossover bid into Norwegian black metal. Not to say that people can’t branch out a little, but, I mean, DUH!

Above all, the music should speak for itself. Global Funk Council (keyboardist Anthony Smith, bassist Jonathan Stoyanoff, guitarist Josh Suhrheinrich and a rotating short list of other players) play just what you’d figure given their pedigree: clean-sounding funk with tight traps, fusion-style guitar solos, a warm Hammond B3 organ sound and fat horn arrangements. Stylewise (insofar as distinctive regional styles can still be discerned in the glut of funk bands currently plying the trade, no offense to the Global Funk Council), it’s got a New Orleans sound to the horns, an early ’70s Oakland sound to the bass and drums, a familiar Robert Walter/Herbie Hancock feel to the keyboards, and a certain cool San Diego something laid over the top. Also: disarmingly hippie-ish jam-band vocals!

That’s just going from the album, which is tight but loose and great for driving around, but like most funk albums can hardly hold a candle to catching the same thing live. So there you go. Catch the same thing live, get the funk up in that piece, turn this mother out, etc. etc.

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