November 25, 1997
"I would much rather have written the best song of a nation than its noblest epic."-Edgar Allan Poe
That is how I feel this week, but in a different way! I'd much rather be playing my best game of disc golf than writing this epic music column, ha, ha. Thanks to all the people who came out to support M.O.R.E. night on Wednesday Nov. 12. Jonny and The Shamen along with FEZ put on a well-rounded evening of rock-a-billy flavored surf music. How rock-a-billy was it? Enough to get Mobile's most rockin' cats out on a Wednesday night! Yes, Gretch Rockin' Cat and Warren Wolf both stopped by to get an earful. Stay tuned for the next M.O.R.E. night, when Soul Core and Sucking Diction hit the stage.
Well, there are a lot of good shows coming in the next two weeks, so it's hard to narrow down the Madhatter Tip-Top Five. Here is a plateful of ear candy coming in the next two weeks. Number five is Lords of Acid at The Howlin' Wolf on December 6 in New Orleans, LA. Busta Rhymes brings in number four with a performance scheduled at the House of Blues in Atlanta, GA on December 7. Number three is the volatile combination of Pantera, Coal Chamber and Anthrax to play the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, MS on December 7. Don't miss number two this week, Medeski, Martin and Wood at Five Points Music Hall in Birmingham, AL on December 8. And the number one show to see in the next two weeks is Tuck & Patti at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, GA on November 28. If you missed the Windham Hill Winter Solstice last year at the Saenger Theatre in Mobile, then you don't want to miss the show in Atlanta. It will send chills down your back when Tuck & Patti do their rendition of Castles Made of Sand/Little Wing by the late Jimi Hendrix.
Who's got the Funk? In Mobile there is a new name for funk and it's Funk Friction. All the polyrhythms and grooves of 70's styled funk, combined with the jammin' side of Reggae and the soul of Motown come together in Funk Friction to form a new flavor on the downtown music scene, one that will get the girls dancing and the guys trying to dance -- just joking. Funk Friction has one thing in mind for the standing room only crowds that have been out to see them in the last couple of months, and that is to party all night!! And the party will be at Monsoon's on Nov. 27, 1997 when Funk Friction hits the stage.
Eight months ago, Aubrey Levene, vocals, viola, and percussion, along with Mike Whiddon, "the emperor of funk" on bass, decided it was time to put a band together that would challenge them musically while cater to the danceless "band-bar" crowds downtown. It was after the two departed Spade House that Funk Friction was born.
"I was sick of going downtown and listening to a bunch of bands you couldn't really dance to," Levene said. "We wanted to form a band that, for just a short period of time, people would not think about all the bullsh*t in their life, and just dance and be happy. So I put together a band that would put a positive vibe into the crowd to make people feel as good as they could at that particular moment."
The friction in Funk Friction is layered down with an assortment of instruments and musical influences. Matthew Neese, guitar, brings a variety of jazz, funk and reggae chops to the band. Brian Schnider puts a funky jab in the mix with his trumpet. Schnider also sings on a couple of songs. The beatmaster for the Funk Friction is Mason Lam. Together with Whiddon, they lay down a foundation that is centered in the origins of funk and strays to other genres.
Whiddon pays homage to funk-fusion master of bass, Jako Pastorius (solo artist and member of Weather Report), with his style of playing. Like the characterizatics of Pastorius ingenious signature playing, Whiddon also carries the drive of rock, the harmonic sophistication of jazz, the methodical techniques of classical music, and the multi-traditional jams of funk in a playing style that gives Funk Friction a backbone. Then there is the Funk Friction Fly Girls who do back-up vocals and are featured on a couple of songs. As a whole, there is enough action on the stage to move the most comatose person in the bar.
"We are the most un-trendy band downtown has ever seen," Levene said. "We play music that most everyone knows and can relate to in some way or another. There is everything from Motown to Reggae in our show. When people see us live they can see how much fun we are having on stage and they feed off that. Then everyone is having fun."
This Thanksgiving will be a party all night at Monsoon's. Funk Friction creates a party atmosphere that keeps the crowd moving. Complete with a light show and songs ranging from Bob Marley to Parliament, Funk Friction is nothing like downtown has ever seen. They can be summed up best with the musical "catch phrase" used in their promo -- The slammin', groovin', smokin', all-out jammin', so you can bootie shake tonight band.