Mike Bryant and the Dunedin Brewery offered up another superb Oktobeerfest last weekend (October 6-9). The brewery consistently features top national, regional and local talent with no cover for almost all events, and Oktobeerfest was no exception.
Hurricane Matthew headlined Thursday. Admittedly, that was not Bryant’s plan. He had the outstanding DeadPhish Orchestra from Boulder scheduled after the Literstein release. Matthew, however, was having none of it. It was simply not possible to host an outdoor show with a tent and ask people to drive when the winds were dangerous and the threat of rain, forcing cancellation of the scheduled event.
STOP RIGHT THERE.
A good journalist always checks his sources. In this case, I did not. I got a kind note from Mike Bryant at the brewery, who told me this, since they did NOT have to cancel Thursday’s festivities:
“We indeed had 400 people or so on site and DPO crushed it! In fact, it hardly even rained. Just a mild breeze and beautiful clouds. We had a line of folks all the way down to 580.”
That’s the real story from one of the hardest-working, music-loving business proprietors anywhere! Cheers!
We were unable to arrive in time to hear the awesome DJ 45Revolver do his thing before the ceremonial tapping of the keg, both always a blast.
Joe Marcinek had once again rounded up the usual suspects. Either he must know all of their dirty little secrets or they owe him money, because he never fails to attract A-list talent for his collaborations, dozens of them a year! This batch was no exception: Steve Molitz (Particle), Freekbass and Peter Koopmans (Family Groove Ensemble) were in the house, or, rather, under the tent, and for this special show they also brought in Juanjamon (The Juanjamon Band).
Friday’s shows was a tribute to Bernie Worrell and P-Funk. Marcinek and Worrell had collaborated often, including last year’s New Year’s Eve, and Worrell had played the brewery in the past as well. It was as special as you could imagine.
They opened with the opening track from Marcinek’s new album Slink, a tune titled “George Washington.” The album is killer; this one is killer-est. “On Nation Under a Groove” segued, according to my scribbled notes, into “Give Up the Funk,” which naturally yielded to “Night of the Thumpasorus Peoples (May We Funk You?)”
Everyone was on fire, and these were long, drawn-out jams. I had just seen George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic six days earlier; this set was better. For real. “Maggot Brain” featured a badass guitar solo from Marcinek and that beautiful obstinato courtesy of Freekbass. Molitz is one of the premier keyboard wizards anywhere, having played in a variety of settings in addition to his Particle project. But it was Koopmans, whom few of us knew, who was a real revelation. He was incredible. Juanjamon then grabbed the microphone to belt “Red Hot Mama,” and it was. Koopmans kicked everybody’s ass.
After a well-deserved set break, they began with “Give Up the Funk.” Well, that’s what my notes say. Whatever, it eventually turned into “Put Your Hands Together,” and that led to the nastiest jam yet. They followed up with another tune from Slink called “Bernie,” the one on which Worrell was guest synthesizer player. Molitz and Freekbass blew this one through the roof.
There was a long, slow intro building up to the next tune, with Molitz in the lead. Juanjamon began singing “Cosmic Slop,” and cosmic was exactly accurate. This jam got even bigger, with Freekbass and Koopmans powering it and Marcinek and Molitz going wild, Juanjamon, too. And Juanjamon blew his best tenor sax solo in the midst of the closing “Flashlight.”
Apologies to Tropidelic, who closed out the night inside. We were done.
We arrived Saturday in time for the second set as Marcinek and crew opened with the title track from Slink (which is a spectacular album, by the way — review to follow soon). Molitz was using just two keyboards Friday (of course, those can do a lot, but with Particle he has an entire spaceship array). However, he had a third rig this night, a MOOG. Apparently, it belonged to Mike Bryant, so it was natural for Molitz to ask him up to play on “Launchpad” with him, and for us Particle fans it was heavenly.
Then Freekbass took over. He is one of the best at stringing together a medley of funk you might not have considered. This one started with “Fame,” then into something great my notes identify as “Patm.” (??) That became “Oops Upside the Head.” Marcinek then asked if we wanted to hear Freekbass slap, for which there was unanimous consent. The medley eventually returned to “Oops” and back to “Fame.”
They played “Bernie” again, and this version hit that MSMW realm of magic. Koopmans was huge, and Molitz channelled Dr. Bernie.
Marcinek invited Christian Ryan to the stage. Ryan, alto player for Holey Miss Moley and a dozen other bands (seriously), joined in as they moved slowly into “If You Want Me to Stay.” Ryan blew a superb solo, and then Marcinek tore it up.
Ryan stayed up as Marcinek announced their last tune, “George Washington.” This was one of the best tunes I’ve ever heard anybody play. Anywhere. Anytime. It was so ridiculously funky and jammed out. Molitz soloed, then Ryan, and Freekbass. It seems to me that somewhere along the line Koopmans got a well-deserved feature, and somehow Marcinek almost turned the song into “Caravan” (Duke Ellington, not Van Morrison).
And I’ve heard Ryan perform more than 60 times, none better than these two songs.
Inside, Holey Miss Moley was ready to finish off the night. During Marcinek’s set break, they soundchecked “People Say,” and it sounded great. They began their set with two of their excellent originals, “Bermuda Triangle” and “Devil Funk.” Next, they played one of the covers from their superb P-Funk set in August, “Standing On the Verge of Getting It On,” in keeping with Marcinek’s show from the previous night. Jacob Cox was crushing on guitar.
The stage at the brewery is fairly small, and there were HMM members sprawled all over the place, Vernon Suber (percussion) offstage left and Mikey Guzman (keyboards) offstage right. No matter — it all worked! And Michael “Thunderfoot” Garrie was filling in at the drum kit. House engineer Chris Fama and able assistant Joe Roma had done a great job with sound and lights outside and continued their mastery inside.
After “Big Bad Wolf,” they shouted out FUNK CANCER, the great benefit show at the Ringside (tonight, Saturday, October 15), then swung directly into “Don’t Stop.” This song in particular has helped vocalist Miss Robyn Alleman to open up; every time out, she blossoms even more.
A long medley ensued: “I Wanna Do Something Freaky to You > Ain’t Nothin’ But a G Thang > Grandma’s Hands > No Diggity.” “Grandma’s Hands” is a song I just never paid any attention to before, but Danny Clemmons’ emotional rendition was magnificent.
They unveiled a new song next: “I Need a 9-Volt.” That’s what Clemmons named it later. Kenny Harvey had power blow out on something involved with his bass rig; Clemmons announced a percussion jam with Garrie, Suber and Anthony Morales, then ran into the back to search for the 9-volt battery Harvey needed. It might sound like a bust, but it was pure Afrobeat dynamite.
Issue resolved, they returned to the Meters’ songbook for “Just Kissed My Baby,” with Alleman and Clemmons so emotive. Then, time for more Afrobeat with their brilliant tune “Afroshaft.” Christian Ryan had a tremendous tenor sax solo, and then Cameron Willinger jumped up and blew some great trumpet.
And they shut it down with “Shake it With Me,” “Sho’ ‘Nuff” and “Heart of Steel.” Just another amazing night from this funk juggernaut.
We did not make it to Sunday’s show with two excellent bands, the Galbraith Group and Trae Pierce & the T-Stones.
Thanks again to Mike Bryant and the Dunedin Brewery for their dedication to providing great beer, great music and great atmosphere.
[JMB FRIDAY 1: George Washington, Mothership Connection, One Nation Under a Groove > Give Up the Funk > Night of the Thumpasorus Peoples, Maggot Brain, Red Hot Mama; 2: Give Up the Funk > Put Your Hands Together, Bernie, Cosmic Slop, Flashlight]
[JMB SATURDAY 2: Slink, Launchpad*, Fame > > Oops Upside the Head > Fame, Bernie, If You Want Me to Stay, George Washington]
[HMM People Say (soundcheck), Bermuda Triangle, Devil Funk, Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, Big Bad Wolf, Don’t Stop, I Wanna Do Something Freaky to You > Ain’t Nothin’ But a G Thang > Grandma’s Hands > No Diggity, I Need a 9-Volt, Just Kissed My Baby, Afroshaft, Shake it With Me, Sho’ ‘Nuff, Heart of Steel]