The New Mastersounds, Orgone, Monophonics | Underbelly’s 01.02.14

[Editor’s note: Actually, my pieces/blogs/articles are really just cheerleading! It is altruistic and selfish all at the same time. I certainly want to help wonderful musicians reach a wider audience, but it IS selfish, because I tell myself if I don’t help spread the word that many of these bands might just… disband.]We were home for a quiet NYE, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to travel to Jax for this unbelievable triple bill. Maybe the NSA knew whom I was Jones-ing to see! Plus, there was less of a likelihood of NYE revelers falling into drum sets and such (you can’t make that stuff up). Several people had commented that Underbelly’s was their favorite local spot. I can see why. The atmosphere and room layout were great and accommodated those who came to funk very well.

This was my third chance to experience Monophonics, and with each show I am simply knocked out (or, as I wrote in a review, “knocked down and picked back up again”). Kelly Finnigan and Monophonics can belt the soul with anybody. ANY. BODY. They match retro soul with wall-to-wall funk. “Are You Ready?” they ask. Hell, yes! How are you NOT ready for psychedelic soul with a soul belter preachin’ the gospel? It was a righteous performance.

On to Orgone. I had not seen them since Bear Creek 2012, if memory serves. I really enjoyed them every time before, but this was something special. Another level. Maybe this is how you have to elevate your game before you get on Jam Cruise. Maybe this is just the evolution of Orgone. Whatever. It was DYNAMITE. Audio TNT. They blew it up, using Monophonics’ spirited opener as a launching pad.

Sergio Rios is a magic front man and guitar player. Several of the songs in the set rocked and funked about as hard as is humanly possible. For me, the unsung hero of the set was bassist Tim Blum (Glum?). Tim put on one the greatest bass performances I’ve ever heard in skyrocketing every Orgone tune. He kicked everything into overdrive. It was a mesmerizing and uplifting set. Two awesome bands. Two awesome sets. On to the headliners. What’s left for them to do?

The New Mastersounds never seem to have a problem answering that question. They get so locked into a tune at times you’d swear they’ve done the Vulcan mind-meld. And Eddie Roberts is a genius. The entire trip from Tampa was worth it just to hear Roberts rip for ten minutes on “Morning Fly,” the second tune of the set. I am such a fan of the Grant Green – Phil Upchurch school of guitar, and Roberts has a Ph.D. Drummer Simon Allen’s time is remarkable.

Later in the set Roosevelt Collier joined the band for a few tunes. These guys have collaborated like clockwork before, most recently at Bear Creek, and I would rather see Roosevelt play than almost anyone on guitar. This particular sit-in was good, but it just did not get very far off the ground. That’s going to happen sometimes. They made the most of it anyway.

Great thanks to the New Mastersounds, Orgone, Monophonics and Roosevelt Collier for giving us a post-NYE, pre-Jam Cruise funking. We needed that!



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