Big Bamn. Big Bamn. Big Bamn. Big Bamn. Big Bamn.
Did I mention Big Bamn? Because, DAMN…
Freekbass brought his travelling circus to the Dunedin Brewery last night. This was a tough decision, because four of my other favorite bands were playing around the area the same night. But I’ve been seeing Freekbass ever since Bear Creek 2009, I think. He is a disciple of Bootsy Collins, but [WARNING: HERETICAL REMARK AHEAD] I think he has moved beyond the teacher.
More recently, Freekbass has been touring with blues-rocker phenom Kelly Richey (who can channel Hendrix, and I saw Hendrix, so I know whereof I speak). I missed the last tour, when drummer Big Bamn had joined the trio. My loss. Those of you who have suffered through my scribbling before know I am always in search of the rhythm section that will take a band over the top. If ever there was such a pairing, it is Freekbass and Big Bamn. They are as good as it gets, in complete simpatico.
I’ll get back to FB and BB, but it’s impossible to forget the third member of the Bump Assembly, Jeff Coffin look-alike Dan Barger. Seriously. I did a quadruple-take to make sure it wasn’t Coffin. Turns out that was unimportant. Barger is a monster on tenor saxophone, flute, EWI and keyboard. His melodies danced over the stunning work of Freekbass and Big Bamn all night, but none more than the last few songs, all from the new Freekbass CD, Everybody’s Feelin’ Real.
I arrived at the Dunedin Brewery (what a wonderful, intimate venue that is) with FB and the boys in the midst of a funk throwdown with the refrain “Ain’t No Party like a Dunedin Brewery Party ‘cause a Dunedin Brewery Party don’t stop!” Everybody was singing! Incidentally, that got us to thinking about just where that phrase originated. I presumed it was George Clinton (“Aint no party like a P-Funk party…”), which I heard for the first time on a 1995 Harvest Fest recording from Gainesville. But George likes to borrow stuff, such as Chuck Brown’s “Bustin’ Loose,” so I suspect he did borrow it from Coolio’s “1-2-3-4.” Boy, do I LOVE music history!
Boy, do I digress!
After “Ain’t No Party,” I think they slid into a new tune, which was followed by a stunning funk medley. I’m not sure how it started, but it segued into P-Funk’s “Put Your Hands Together,” and then, to my utmost delight, Freekbass began to sing “I’m not perfect (but I’m perfect for you.” GRACE JONES! I love Grace Jones! That was beyond awesome. I could have gone home happy right then and there.
But you know I didn’t. This entire time, I had connected with dear friend Robert Sanger, excellent bass player for Serotonic, and his lovely wife, Katy. At set break, Robert and I waded through the well-wishers to talk to Freekbass. In addition to being a great player, Robert builds his own basses, true artistic gems that sound as good as they look. He was hoping to show one or two of them to Freekbass later to see what he thought of them.
One of the greatest aspects of our music scene is that (almost) all of the musicians are wonderful people who really enjoy connecting with fans and fellow musicians. Robert asked FB if he would like to look at his bass later. I will never, in my life, forget the touching and sincere tone in FB’s voice when he said, simply, “OF COURSE I WILL.” It meant as much to me as it meant to Robert. It just put an exclamation point on the fact that I had chosen wisely this evening in heading to Dunedin.
The second set blasted off with a Rush intro (and I never remember the name of the song – no, not “Tom Sawyer,” thank you) which slid effortlessly into “Rise,” the first track from the new CD. After an older original, it was time for another medley, and this one was killer. Again.
Approximately, it was Body Heat (James Brown) > Flashlight > ? > Fame > Round and Round > Roof on Fire > I Want to Take You Higher > Jam. It was sick. And whereas Dan Barger was having a few technical difficulties during the first set with his EWI (electronic wind instrument), they were gone by the second set, and Dan was just killing it.
After the title track from the new CD, they announced “Victoria Thunder.” That is not my favorite tune on the disk, but in concert they sent this one out somewhere past Saturn, I’m pretty sure. Unbelievable. And then Freekbass announced that they were closing with my favorite song on the new disk, “Never Enough.”
For me, it’s “never enough” Freekbass. He has played monster silent disco sets with Skerik (and, this past year at Bear Creek, also with Dennis Stadelman of CopE), collaborated with Steve Molitz of Particle in Headtronics, played in the Skerik Orchestra, and sat in with Bernie Worrell on a version of “Red Hot Mama” that is beyond belief (check on YouTube, from 11.16.13).
Once Robert showed Freekbass the bass he had built, I split. You know how bass players are. The sun probably came up before they were done.
Did I mention Big Bamn? Because…
I don’t know the name of the sound engineer at Dunedin Brewery, but he is one of the true artists. The sound again last night was perfect. Bravo!
Great to see Robert and Katy and a lot of other familiar faces at Dunedin!