A Dose of New Soul and Funk: Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Calibro 35, Cool Uncle, The Jack Moves, The Bamboos, Bones & Beeker
With Winter approaching and cold dark days ahead, now might be an opportune time to select some music that will provide warmth and movement for cold bodies during those long winter nights. We might be hundreds of miles from the nearest sunny beach, but here in Asheville we bring the sun home with soulful and funky tunes. What better way to warm up your day than with some hard hitting, uplifting deep funk and soul. We’ve perused the latest releases of soul and funk, including local favorites Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Aussie deep funksters The Bamboos, Jack Splash’s new project Cool Uncle, cinematic funk combo Calibro 35 and more. This batch of groovyness is guaranteed to get the blood pumping and to heat things up on cold days. Cause we know you got soul — if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be on here.
Bobby Caldwell and Jack Splash are Cool Uncle
Bobby Caldwell might quite possibly be one of R&B’s best-kept secrets… a true soul gem. Known around the world for his 1978 international classic “What You Won’t Do For Love”, most of the rest of his wildly diverse & impressive catalog was just waiting to be discovered….that is until J Dilla intervened. Right at the turn of the millennium, with one genius move, Dilla re-introduced an entire generation to the brilliance that is Bobby Caldwell. In what might possibly be the best hip hop ‘love song’ of all time (“The Light”), Common raps the verses with grace & virtuosity, but it’s Bobby Caldwell on the hook that brought everything together. Dilla did that.
About 10 years later, the 9 time Grammy award nominated and 4 time Grammy award winning Jack Splash was following a similar path as Bobby…disregarding trends and making his own special brand of soul music for the music-lovers. Critically acclaimed worldwide as the front man for his 15-piece funk band Plantlife, Jack pulled a 180 and stopped touring entirely. He began writing and producing for Cee-Lo Green, Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, John Legend and several more. In interviews though, instead of talking about himself and his commercial success, Jack was talking about HIS idols. He was talking about Earth Wind & Fire, Sly Stone, Steely Dan, Prince & BOBBY CALDWELL…..It just so happened that Bobby was listening.
Just like both Bobby and Jack’s catalogs, the music they make together as Cool Uncle isn’t that easy to define. It definitely has roots in classic soul, but also includes elements of funk, hip hop, rock and all sorts of electronic subtleties. Bobby and Jack called some of their friends and musical co-conspirators to come join the party. Cee-Lo, Mayer Hawthorne, Eric Biddines, Jessie Ware, JD8 and even the legendary Deniece Williams came through for the pot-luck. The end result is a wild ride steeped in soul and groove, but peppered with exciting and unexpected twists and turns. The types of twists and turns that future Dilla’s might end up sampling.
Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band
Funk is more than a musical genre, it’s a way of life. And since that mindset is what Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band embodies every day, the collective titled its fourth studio album Funk Life.
The band, which formed in the college town of Boone, North Carolina, in 2002, has shared stages with the likes of Parliament Funkadelic, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Maceo Parker and Bootsy Collins. They’re in high demand on the festival circuit, putting in appearances at Wakarusa, Bear Creek, Jam Cruise, Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, Aura Fest, Floyd Fest, DeLuna Festival, Jazz Aspen, Center of the Universe Festival, Purple Hatters Ball, Camp Barefoot and Trinumeral, among others.
True musical road warriors, their live show is an absolute must see! A musical experience rather than simply a band, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band is all facets of funk wrapped into one deliciously deviant package. The band released their fourth studio album Funk Life this summer, recording it at Echo Mountain Studios in their hometown of Asheville, North Carolina where they worked on their last album, 2013’s Onward!
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Celebrating 15 years of making music in 2015, Australia’s The Bamboos have long established themselves as one of the leading Soul bands on the global scene. Tru Thoughts mark this milestone on 27thNovember with a compilation of some of the band’s greatest moments on the label, handpicked by the band, as well as three exclusive live tracks (iTunes exclusives).
Led by guitarist and main songwriter/producer Lance Ferguson, The Bamboos initially emerged as one of the foundational acts that spearheaded the underground ‘Deep Funk’ scene of the early 2000s. Since then they have recorded seven studio albums, two live albums and 21 singles, and performed more than 500 of their legendary, incendiary live shows; all the while aiming forward with a genre-defying take on the music, shaking up what it means to be a Soul band in the new millennium. They have collaborated with the likes of Aloe Blacc, Lyrics Born, Alice Russell, Ty and Daniel Merriweather, incorporating the influences of Funk, Pop, Hip Hop, Rock, Psych, Indie and Soundtrack music into their own unique sound.
The Bamboos recorded some of their most beloved and classic works while signed to esteemed UK label Tru Thoughts for seven years between 2005 and 2012. Over five albums for the imprint (‘Step it Up’,’Rawville’, ‘Side-Stepper’, ‘4’ and ‘Medicine Man’) they refined and evolved their sound with a progressive approach, shedding the ‘retro’ label along the way but also retaining the warmth, rawness and soul of their roots. Compiled on ‘Best Of The Tru Thoughts Years’ are 13 songs that shine a light on this evolution – a fitting companion piece for The Bamboos’ 15 Year Anniversary in 2015, and a celebration of one of the most beloved, cherished and respected Soul/Funk bands of the 21st century.
The Jack Moves
Born out of the mid-2000s skate scene, the Jack Moves are a product of an illustrious and creative period of downtown New York. Raised on a healthy diet of old-school soul and ’80s classics, singer, producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Zee Desmondes met drummer, producer, and former pro-skater Teddy Powell at LES skate hangout Tompkins Square Park in 2006 and the two became fast friends with a shared love of Wu-Tang Clan and rare soul records.
The pair soon shaped a garbage-strewn second-floor walkup in the heart of downtown Newark into a fully functioning analog studio. With Newark as their cultural backdrop, they began writing material that would speak to the timeless nature of soul music, but a music that was of its time. Singer Zee Desmondes delivers a falsetto reminiscent of some of blue-eyed soul’s greats Daryl Hall and Bobby Caldwell, while drummer Teddy Powell—who has placed beats on G-Unit and U-God projects—provides a steady, aggressive hip-hop-inspired bottom that propels the music forward. It’s an amalgamation of many styles and influences, spanning ’60s and ’70s soul, ’80s boogie, ’90s hip-hop, L.A.’s lowrider scene, and today’s millennial skate and streetwear communities.
Recorded to tape on an 8-track tape recorder at the ‘analog mecca’ Toe Rag Studios in London, Record Kicks proudly presents “S.P.A.C.E.”, the greatly anticipated fifth studio album from the legendary Italian cinematic funk combo Calibro 35, who were recently sampled by Dr. Dre on “Compton”.
Forget about the gripping noir atmospheres of their previous full lengths, with the new album the Milan combo escapes from planet earth and lands on their own satellite to write the perfect funk soundtrack of an imaginary sci-fi movie directed by Sergio Leone. They’ve thrown away the balaclavas and embraced a bunch of synthesizers in their new instalment where Calibro 35 explores fresh new territories.
From the storming imaginary main title notes of the title track S.P.A.C.E. to the percussive effects and creepy organ of Serenade for a satellite, with incursions into cosmic afrobeat (Ungwana Bay Launch Complex), lunar funk (Bandits On Mars) and trippy atmospheres (Something Happened on Planet Earth), in S.P.A.C.E. Calibro 35 sound as cinematic and groovy as ever. Captured live and direct to tape with no overdubbing or editing facilities by Tommaso Colliva (Muse/Franz Ferdinand), the sound is tough, warm and super tight and confirms the unique musicianship of the band able in few years to gain followers worldwide.
Described by Rolling Stone Magazine as the most fascinating, retro-maniac and genuine thing that has happened to Italy in the past few years, Calibro 35 enjoy a worldwide reputation as one of the coolest independent bands around.
Music by Calibro 35 has been used by Dr. Dre on his hip-hop album of the year Compton (One Shot One Kill feat. Snoop Dogg) and by Jay Z (Picasso Baby), Child of Lov & Damon Albarn (One Day) and hip-hop supergroup Demigodz (The Summer Of Sam). They’ve played major venues and festivals all over Europe, with several trips playing in the States and as unique musicians they’ve collaborated with, amongst others; PJ Harvey, Mike Patton, John Parish and Stewart Copeland.
Bones & Beeker
Anthony Newes (vocals, guitar, keys, and other sounds) and Brendan Kelly (production, drum programming, keys, glockenspiel, kalimba)–known in hip-hop circles as BK-One–were introduced through their work with the developmentally disabled. Their first meeting was a five-minute conversation about Tom Waits. Their second was at a client’s deathbed.
BK-One is probably best known for his decade of work with rapper Brother Ali, yet early in his life he toured the country in a jazz band while studying piano and vibraphone alongside musical giants like Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson, Yusef Lateef, and Wynton Marsalis.
Anthony Newes–who studied audio engineering in Arizona and improvisation and music theory in Northern California, and worked at a homeless shelter in Seattle–formed a critically celebrated rock band while in Eureka, California, and earned a reputation playing folk music in the old Minneapolis haunts of Dylan and Guthrie.
When the two artists decided to work together, they faced many challenges, often arguing about how to properly balance two radically different musical sensibilities. Both were way out of their element, and each song was a strange new compromise.