Monday, November 1, 2010


It was early 90's when i first listened and fell in love with jazz, latin boogaloo and funk. The first time i heard funk was when I was as a child watching Sesame Street, (remember the pinball count animation with The Pointer Sisters singing?) The Electric Company and some Pinoy action and spy flicks. Then during my teen years i forgot about the funk i was introduced to punk rock via Howlin' Dave's RJAM and hip hop by my b boy friends in the mid 80's (Grand Master Flash was the bomb!). As years progressed i started to listen to different kinds of music from hardcore to metal, to new wave to no wave, to ska and reggae.

Then the mid 90s came and there was grunge, death metal, and alternative music what caught my ear was these three bands that meld metal, ska and funk into one cohesive music and that was Fish Bone, 24 7 Spyz and The Red Hot Chili Peppers they were different from the rest. Those three bands brought me back to soul train via heavy metal and after hearing them I began to wonder who had influenced these bands to play their brand of funk besides the obvious sabbath and zep rock linkage. And during my search I also rediscovered funk through hip hop samples done by Dr. Dre (N.W.A.'s Express Your Self has a sample of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band) these further wet my appetite to find out what had been lost in my subconscious mind.

First thing that I did was to read a lot and research for bands and artist that had a link to funk. I listened to a bunch of artist on a UK label called Acid Jazz owned by a mod named Eddie Piller with bands like The James Taylor Quartet, Jamiroquai, The Brand New Heavies, Snowboy with his latin jazz dance groove and other great bands showing their funk influences proudly on their sleeves. Back then i never knew who Idris Muhammad, Roy Ayers and the godfather of soul Mr James Brown was until this record label introduced me to these magnificent artist.

But as time progressed i began to dig deeper and slowly learned that there's more to funk than just James Brown, Sly Stone and George Clinton. I had barely just scratch the surface. I learned that there are unknown artist that can give these distinguished men a run for their money the likes of Arthur Monday, Lee Fields and many more, this is deep funk at its finest. DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist re introduced me to the real hip hop via their Brainfreeze mixed CD a heavy heavy funk turntable antics done strictly with funk 45s, through this i learned about a hip hop label called Stones Throw records that had put out a compilation of independently run record labels with unknown artist from the 60s. The compilation was called The Funky 16 Corners and then through DJ Shadow i learned about Keb Darge with their Legendary Deep Funk compilations.

Keb Darge is a critically acclaimed northern soul and funk DJ and when it comes to funk he is king. He is influential to the so called new funk scene. Producing One Note Brown for The New Mastersounds a record that now fetches for some serious money. The new funk scene had brought life to old forgotten artist the likes of Sharon Jones and Lee Fields and birthed new bands like the Dap Kings, El MIchels Affair, Poets of Rhythm and so much more. The scene started out in the UK had slowly spread across Europe is more keen on the raw and dirty funk sound rather than the polished acid jazz funk sound in the 90s.

Its kinda fascinating that the British folks are more attentive to American black music rather than the Americans themselves, with exceptions to some bands like The Breakestra, Coney Price and the Keystones and The Dap Kings. The Brits studied the music with all their heart and then spits it out to the American buying public. If you take a look a close look at it The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones copied American Rhythm and Blues tweaked it a bit and presto! America loved it. And now The Brits are doing it again this time with FUNK. And now you could hear it all again the funk is alive and well a good example of that is a band called The Aggrolites you could hear some serious funk in their music amidst those reggae beats.

If you thought that this music is retro think again renowned UK deep funk band The New Mastersounds is doing a feature film documentary called Coals to Newcastle - The New Mastersounds: From Leeds To New Orleans, considered by many as the birthplace of funk and home of the Meters, Eddie Bo and Lee Dorsey. The film was shot during the post-Katrina New Orleans Jazzfest in 2007. The documentary gives a compelling portrait of New Orleans' struggle to retain its culture in the face of the hurricane's devastation.

Here is the trailer: