It’s a brand new year, and that means the horizon is wide open once again. Our 2014 calendar is filling up quickly, which is a good thing, but there’s still room for a few killer gigs — maybe a new bar or club we’ve never played, or a fun festival in a town we’ve never visited. We love meeting new people, playing for new audiences and making new friends. If you know of any places that might like our music, please send them our way. Here’s hoping the New Year brings good things to all of you. And if you happen to catch us at a show, come on up and say hello. We’re reasonably social and have been known to speak in complete sentences now and again. Hope to see you soon!
Well, the 5th Annual Funky Butt Brass Band Holiday Brasstravaganza has come and gone, and it’s safe to say it was a sparkling success. This year’s show featured a dazzling array of special guests, including keyboardist David Grelle of The Feed, frontman Steve Ewing of The Urge, bluesman Big Mike Aguirre, percussionist Matt Henry, burlesque from Mimi LeYu of the Randy Dandies, and more! Plus a visit from everyone’s favorite Jolly Old Elf, Santa Claus (well played by Bob Bennett)! We wanted to send out big thanks to everyone who was involved in putting it together (we’re looking at you, Steve Pohlman from Off Broadway) and especially to all those who showed up to help us celebrate. There was definitely plenty of holiday spirit to go around. Check out the photos and videos on our Gallery page!
Every now and again, we like to take our third set at the Broadway Oyster Bar and play the music of a single artist or band. We call it “Covered In Brass,” and on August 9, 2013, it was the Allman Brothers Band. We were fortunate to be joined by master percussionist Matt Henry, and it was about as much fun as humans should be allowed to have. Check it out: http://funkybuttbrassband.com/album/covered-in-brassallman-brothers-band-8-9-13/
Actually, every day is Fan Appreciation Day in FBBB land. We probably don’t say or write it often enough, but we are immensely appreciative of all the support we get, here in St. Louis and wherever we travel. We couldn’t do what we do without you (well, we could, but it would be very boring and lonely). You are the cream in our coffee, the butter on our biscuit, the wind beneath our wings and all those other silly metaphors. We truly appreciate you coming to our shows, buying our music, saying nice things in the press and in person, and allowing us opportunities to play some really fun and interesting places on a fairly regular basis. It means the world to us, and we thank you.
That’s “The Wall,” as in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” We opened on the side stage before the El Monstero tribute to Pink Floyd on Saturday, July 20th at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (or, as it’s still known to many of us, Riverport). We also appeared onstage during the El Monstero set, playing “When The Tigers Broke Free” and “Outside The Wall,” in full pig makeup and all. If you’re a Pink Floyd fan, you owe it to yourself to check out an El Monstero show. It’s an amazing concert experience. Our friend, awesome photographer Madison Thorn captured a bit of our porcine onstage adventure. (Photo courtesy of Madison Thorn Photography)
It’s an honor to win a Riverfront Times Music Award, let alone four in a row. This year, we were named Best Soul/Funk Band, which is pretty amazing, given the level of the competition. Thanks to all who voted!
From local music mag The Riverfront Times, in a write-up of 2013 RFT Music Award nominees:
Groove, like sex, is a universal language best spoken with the body. The six members of Funky Butt Brass Band – Aaron Chandler, Adam Hucke, Ron Sikes, Tim Halpin, Matt Brinkmann and Ben Reece – throw all their physicality into their music, moving and jabbing and dancing like the heavyweight champions of jazz funk that they are. Their horn section has become go-to collaborators for rock bands like Melody Den and Brothers Lazaroff, and their regular gigs around town are more than just a celebration of the New Orleans sound. When Chandler belts out Oliver Sain’s “St. Louis Breakdown” you know where the heart and soul of this band lies.
Many people ask about the name of the band. Most smile when they hear it; although once when we played a concert where the median age was about 75, a sweet-faced elderly lady came up and said, “I really enjoy your music.” Then she frowned and whispered, “Not too fond of the name, though.” Fortunately, that’s not the majority opinion. The term “funky butt” has a storied place in New Orleans history. It was the title of a dance, a Buddy Bolden trumpet tune and, in the early part of the 20th century, when jazz was new, the Union Sons of Honor Hall in the “backatown” district of New Orleans became the Funky Butt Dance Hall at night. Another dance club called the Funky Butt used to be open on Rampart Street in the early 2000s; it was owned by Big Sam Williams and hosted the city’s finest funk bands. But it closed after Katrina hit and never reopened. We thought the name was a fitting homage to our sister city, was reflective of the spirited music we hoped to make, and would make people smile. So far, it’s worked out that way. Except for that one lady, apparently.
Concert review: Big Sam’s Funky Nation and the Funky Butt Brass Band join forces at the Old Rock House, Friday, February 8
Big Sam’s Funky Nation is one of our favorite New Orleans bands, and we’ve been lucky enough to share the stage with them on four different occasions. It’s always a treat, because Big Sam Williams is a force of nature and a lot of fun to watch. Our bands complement each other well, it’s always a big funk throwdown and it usually ends with the Funky Butt horns joining the nation onstage and lifting the night even higher than previously imagined. We had occasion to open for BSFN again, this time at the Mystic Knights of the Purple Haze Ball on Friday, February 8th, and fortunately for us, Jason Warren from KDHX was there to document the proceedings:
Written by Jason Warren
Turning the Old Rock House into a purple, gold and green celebration, both bands brought the funk and turned it up for the dance floor. More importantly the night served as the annual ball for the Mystic Knights of the Purple Haze, who happened to be celebrating 25 years as St. Louis’ premier Mardi Gras krewe. It was a night that made everyone from housewives, businessmen, thirty-nothings, hippies and punks move with the joy of music and celebration that can only come from New Orleans.
The tone of the night was set by the Funky Butt Brass Band. The group brought its own style of funk fused with second-line brass band and turned the Old Rock House into a rent party. The veterans grooved with their take of the New Orleans sound but really hit their stride when they channeled James Brown and his Famous Flames. It was in those moments that the band truly shined.
As Big Sam’s Funky Nation took the stage the party took off. As the band kicked into the first song, it felt like a fighter jet had taken off inside the walls of the Old Rock House. Those that were expecting a classics like “Hey Pocky A-Way” or “Jock-O-Mo” might have been disappointed; if so, the disappointment only lasted a few seconds. The band kicked in and they were there not only to make your booty shake but to give you a show.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation is led by former Dirty Dozen Brass Band trombonist Sammie “Big Sam” Williams. The name Big Sam is appropriate, not only for the the actual size of the man but for the sound that he and his band produce, a sound that has the power and fury of great metal and punk but consists of deep funk. Producing a groove that had everyone in a frenzy. Even if you were sitting in the back of the club there was no way that this sound could keep you from sitting still. The band was in town to party and take the crowd on a funk and rock journey, one that echoed the grooves and sounds that could only be conjured up if you were to make a hybrid of Fishbone, the P-Funk, Maceo Parker and the Ohio Players.
Topping off the evening was Funky Butt’s Aaron Chandler and Adam Hucke jumping on stage to trade licks with the Funky Nation, combining the powers of the Funky Butt Brass Band’s house-party vibe with the landing of Big Sam’s mothership. This was an ideal combination of both New Orleans heavy funk and St. Louis come to party attitude that made a perfect fit to end the night.
As Al Johnson’s classic tune reminds us, Mardi Gras season is here once again. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, as you might expect from a band whose DNA is in the New Orleans brass band tradition. Although New Orleans and St. Louis have much in common, their Mardi Gras celebrations are very different. In NOLA, the parades begin on January 19 and continue through Fat Tuesday, February 12 — there are 63 parades this year alone. Here in St. Louis, you get a dog parade and a single, solitary Grand Parade down Broadway. As a result, St. Louisans are forced to cram all their revelry into a couple of long weekend afternoons. With that in mind, the Funky Butt Brass Band reminds you to be careful out there, pace yourselves, don’t overdo it, and try not to get any tattoos you might regret on Ash Wednesday. And if you’re still standing at 5 pm on Parade Day, February 9th, we hope you’ll come see us at the Old Rock House. We’ll also be hitting the stage at 8 pm at the Broadway Oyster Bar on Fat Tuesday, your last chance for utter debauchery before you clean up your act for Lent. In both cases, we will be joined by our friends Gumbohead, so you’ll get the REAL Mardi Gras experience, from brass band funk to traditional jazz to Professor Longhair boogie to Creole zydeco. As opposed to a couple of DJs rocking the Bud Light Party Tent amidst the chaos and detritus of Soulard. Laissez les bon temps rouler, indeed!