New Year’s Eve. So many choices, musically and otherwise. There were a dozen options, at least. Somehow, this was an easy choice. The moment this show was announced early in the fall, I knew I would be heading to the Dunedin Brewery to see Freekbass and the Bump Assembly along with Serotonic. Might not be perfect, but it was perfect for me (more on that later).
Here is the thing about the Dunedin Brewery. Multiple things, actually. They are three different places where patrons can go if they wish to talk and not listen; that’s a win-win for everybody. Their beer is simply superb. Their food menu is excellent. Their staff is without peer. And they have a brilliant sound engineer, and those who know will tell you that can make all the difference. Chris Fama, you rock!
I have seen Freekbass in a wide variety of settings, and he never ceases to amaze me. He and his Bump Assembly bandmates had invaded Dunedin in August, and it was an awesome night. So this pairing with Serotonic, one of my most favorite Florida bands, was simply tailor-made for me.
I arrived shortly before 8 to see Serotonic drummer Andrew Kilmartin fretting. Through some missed signals, they had not been able to get set up until now, meaning they wouldn’t start on time and would have to play a shorter set. “Relax,” I said. “This will all work out. Don’t let things out of your control dampen your spirits.”
Everything worked out just fine. I got to sit with the Serotonic family, and the boys got two full hours with genuine audience response, and that doesn’t always happen on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately, Dunedin does not seem to attract the plastered party screamer set – yet another reason I love the brewery!
Serotonic kicked off with “Shwamp” and let that slide into “Think Fast,” which I really like, especially for its “Who Knows” coda. Next, they tackled Stevie’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” a good choice on this festive eve. Usually, the band takes this up-tempo, but this night they slowed it to a samba, and it was… lovely!
A strong cover of the Black Seeds’ “Fire” with Andrew, Jon Tucker (alto sax) and Jordan Garno (guitar) singing was spot-on, and then they blasted my favorite of their originals, “Rhinobelly.” Once again, Garno and bass player Robert Sanger CRUSHED this.
When I had seen the band almost two weeks earlier, I noted that there is a new maturity and intensity to their ensemble playing. It is great to see them “Move On Up,” the tune they played next. Bryan Lewis was again all over the keyboards, with piano, organ and synthesizer dancing over every tune. It was a very well-received set, and nobody complained about them playing the full two hours. Rock the house!
Freekbass was ready to roll shortly after 11. Big Bamn was behind the drum kit, ready to power us all into the new year. Immediately, they dove straight into the funk chest (and never came out). After the first several songs, Freekbass led the band into one of his legendary medleys. I know I missed some things, but try this on for size:
Body Heat > Flashlight > Some People > Fame > Ain’t No Party Like a Dunedin Party > Night of the Thumpasorus Peoples (May We Funk You?) > Want to Take You Higher > ?? > Higher
And, magically, it was 2015 (in the back room, 2015 came ten seconds later, apparently). Another medley ensued, including “You Don’t Have the Time,” “Funk Getting’ Ready to Roll,” “Fire” and “Red Hot Mama.”
Freekbass was out of control, Big Bamn was Big Bamn (WOW), and the third member of the trio, Dan Barger, in his cape, jumped from keyboards and synthesizer to saxophone and EWI. They played tunes from the new CD, Everybody’s Feelin’ Real, starting with the title track, also hitting “Rise” and “Victoria Thunder.”
Then I scribbled something about “Grinder” (??), and, bless him, he again threw in Grace Jones’ “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You).” HELL YES.
As they had done in August, they closed with my favorite song from the new disk, “Never Enough,” and they killed it. But the crowd was agreed it was “never enough” and demanded one more. What followed was an awesome “Come Together.” Exactly!
There ain’t no party like a Freekbass party ‘cause a Freekbass party don’t stop!
Great to see Greg and Susan, Chris and Vickie, Kelly-Ann, Katy and Serena. Great to meet Pierce, Jackie and Marty, Larry and Laurie, and Johnny.
Mega-thanks to Katy and Robert for letting me crash at their house!