Start with plenty of great Southern rock. Then mix in funk, fusion, R&B, blues, and a righteous portion of sacred steel, and you’ve got Marvelous Funkshun, the quintet from Winston-Salem NC who have been cooking up their musical recipe since 2014. The band is on the road after releasing a fine new five-song EP. They also issued a fine album recorded live at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem.
Marvelous Funkshun are: Sam Robinson, guitar, vocals; Chris Johnson, pedal steel guitar; Will Bagley, bass; Ranzy Moore, drums; and Michael Kinchen, Hammond B3 organ, synthesizers. This new album was recorded by Daniel Seriff at I Shot the Seriff Studios in Winston-Salem, mixed by John Keane at John Keane Studios in Athens, GA, and mastered by Dave McNair at Dave McNair Mastering in Winston-Salem. The excellent album cover is courtesy of Drew DePorter.
The new self-titled EP gives a great look into the workings of this band, beginning with “Fancy Car.” It sets up immediately as solid rock with a great fusion flair, funky chunky guitar in the driver’s seat. Johnson, who is also holds down the sacred steel chair in The Lee Boys these days, makes himself known first with a fine solo. Robinson then takes a turn, punishing his wah-wah pedal in the process, followed from some slinky synths by Kinchen.
On “Wastin’ Time,” Robinson’s singing is enhanced by Joy Rivers’ fine background vocals. And this track also features guest Kofi Burbridge on electric piano tangling with Kinchen’s Hammond B3. Johnson, Burbridge, and Robinson all rip solos here.
The rhythm section of Bagley and Moore stands out on all five tracks, but they come to the fore on a slide feature titled “Memoria.” Kinchen’s B3 fires things up right away, and then Robinson takes over. He is a huge Derek Trucks fan (aren’t we all?), and he just rips. After five glorious minutes, Johnson make it even more praise-worthy as he quotes both “Amazing Grace” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Next is a song about being turned upside down by a high-maintenance woman: “$100 Bottles of Wine.” Robinson’s refrain is “You can tell by the way she walks, what she wants she gets.” Rivers’ backing vocals are even more effective here. Appropriate to the tune, Johnson and Robinson each scorch a couple of solos, with Kinchen’s B3 dancing in the background.
The album closes with the quieter, bluesy lament of “Liquor Store,” introduced first by Robinson, then Johnson, then Moore’s cymbals before the whole band falls in line. Rivers guests on this one, too.
The live recording goes back two years to 04/16/15 when Marvelous Funkshun opened for Snoop Dogg at Ziggy’s. That album was just released last December. It features early versions of “Liquor Store” and “Memoria” as well as some smokin’ covers of “Hear My Train A-Comin’,” “Shakey Ground” and “Power of Soul.”
We first heard them Valentine’s Day 2015 at Gov-Fest in Lakeland FL. At the time, we wrote:
Marvelous Funkshun, had a very, very tough act to follow. How should they approach it? Of all the options you did consider, you most probably did NOT consider “Get Low” by Lil John and the East Side Boyz, done totally redneck country style. My head was turning like Linda Blair’s. Maybe we should make ourselves scarce for a wee bit if that is what’s going to happen. PSYCH! GOTCHA! They immediately made a u-turn and funked up “Shaky Ground,” which maneuvered its way into “We Want the Funk (Night of the Thumpasaurus Peoples).” It was red hot. Then they slowed things down with a slow, slinky take on “Hear My Train A-Comin’.” Psychedelic rock? They had that covered, too, thank you very much. They can come back to visit from Winston-Salem any time.
Give them a listen now and a look-see when they visit your area! It’s a Marvelous idea!
Thanks to MrJayFoo, Marvelous Funkshun, and The Sober Goat for their videos.
MARVELOUS FUNKSHUN ON TOUR
06/23 Plyler Park | Myrtle Beach SC
07/04 Second and Green Tavern | Winston-Salem NC
07/06 The Pour House | Charleston SC w/ The Lee Boys
07/14 Deep South the Bar | Raleigh NC
07/15 Bubba’s Love Shack | North Myrtle Beach SC
07/21 Barrelhouse South | Savannah GA
07/22 Dunedin Brewery | Dunedin FL
07/26 Guanabana’s | Jupiter FL
07/28 Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ – Sullivan’s Island | Charleston SC
11/22 Millennium Center | Winston-Salem NC