The music had stopped, 20 minutes past normal closing, but this was no normal night. We filed out in stunned semi-silence. Eric Layana, drummer for Future Vintage, said it best:
“We just experienced something we will never hear again.”
This was Joe Marcinek’s traveling roadshow, performing three nights in Florida with some true heavy hitters. Joe has a reputation for amassing talent on an enormous scale: players such as Bernie Worrell, Steve Molitz, Joey Porter, Cecil McDaniel and Vinnie and Jim (moe.) have all been members of the ‘Joe Marcinek Band’ at some point or other.
For this brief tour, Marcinek found major-league players across the board: Jason Hann on drums (String Cheese Incident), Tony Hall on bass (Dumpstaphunk), Jim Wuest on keyboards (The Heavy Pets), and Juanjamon on tenor saxophone (The Juanjamon Band, CopE). Whatever anybody’s expectations were, the band exceeded them by about a lightyear.
The two sets featured six of Marcinek’s originals and many, many crowd favorites. Set one began with his song “Both Sides,” allowing the band and the crowd to get settled in. This was night two of the four-night swing, and the boys were still exploring the boundaries. Hall took the vocals on “Down by the River,” eventually getting everyone to sing the chorus. It only took two songs for everyone to be firing on all cylinders.
The next song, “Jan Jan,” was a jazzy outing with Juanjamon’s saxophone introducing. Hall crushed the first of MANY solos on bass. The pace slowed just a bit for a simply reading of “The Mighty Quinn” with a brief Allman Brothers tease (“Jessica”) tucked inside. Marcinek handled the vocals, although there were backing vocals on most songs from everyone (except Hann).
And THAT’S when everything BLEW. UP. Hall takes first blame for his nasty, nasty bass line that almost seemed like it would veer into “Money” but instead emerged as “Higher Ground.” To this point, Hann had provided an excellent beat, but at this point he shifted into double overdrive. Juanjamon was singing and playing tenor, and Hall and Wuest were locked in some sort of space-time continuum or something; it was surreal.
And don’t dare overlook Marcinek, an amazing guitar slinger who let his ‘band’ loose but was right in the thick of things the entire time. It’s obvious to see why world-class players gravitate to him. Somehow, the funk got even MORE huge, again directed by Hall’s bass. And everybody in the house was along for the ride. Damn!
The intensity level came down only half a notch as Hall introduced “Mothership Connection,” that unmistakable bassline dripping in funk. Dumpstaphunk delivers this regularly, including shows where all they play is P-Funk. And here Wuest really jumped on the mothership; this stuff is his forte, synthesizers soaring skyward. Marcinek has teamed up with Bernie Worrell (including New Year’s Eve) on a few occasions and is a master at this material as well. Hall got us all singing: “Swing down, sweet chariot, stop and let me ride.” And it WAS sweet! Set break.
Two lovely surprises helped to open set two. Dani Jaye, violin player extraordinaire with Come Back Alice, joined the fellas, and Tony Hall relinquished bass duties for a song to Robert Sanger, superb member of Serotonic. (Sanger makes his own basses and had his custom rig there.)
The set began with another Marcinek-penned funk romp, “Sun God.” Dani had an amazing solo, and Sanger was excellent, alternately playing off Hann and Wuest. Hall took over and started stomping his feet as he led the band into “Shaky Ground,” also handling the vocals. This was almost as huge as “Higher Ground” from the first set. As the song segued into “Give Up the Funk,” Wuest again just took off. And Marcinek was shredding like a madman.
Another original, “60 Degrees in the Shade,” poured out next, his homage to Florida ‘winter.’ Dani and Juanjamon had great solos here. And at this point, I thought:
FUNK IS THE COMMON DENOMINATOR.
Hall called Sanger back up for “Funky Bitch,” which clearly put smiles on faces throughout the room. Sanger more than held his own before handing bass duties back to Hall. What followed was a sheer delight of a journey down “Shakedown Street,” and nobody needed to be encouraged to yell “WOO!” each time. Everybody got the chance to shine.
One more Marcinek song was next, “Hyperbole.” Wuest and Juanjamon both soloed. Marcinek next pointed out that he didn’t know that Wuest sang. Recently, The Heavy Pets were performing Walrus: A Tribute to the Beatles, and so he let Wuest take the lead vocal on “Come Together.”
That was superb, with lots of backing vocal from the still-packed brewery, but it went interstellar next. Marcinek said, “We’ve got time for one more — for Bernie.” And out came “Red Hot Momma!” It was so sick. Hall and Hann were simply on another astral plane altogether. Dani took a stunning solo on violin, and then Hall said what everybody was thinking: “I’m a greedy man. I want some more.” Dani obliged. Wuest jumped on the starship — again doing Bernie proud.
It was after midnight and normal weekday quitting time, but nobody seemed ready to stop. Marcinek asked, “How about one more?” The roar was deafening! The encore began with one more tune by the band leader, this one titled “George Wash.” Like the others, it was a solid, funk tune, but Hall determined we needed to go the “Flashlight” route. He took one more wicked solo, and then he and Wuest locked horns for some really badass stuff. And we ended a cappella: “Everybody needs a little light… under the sun! Under the sun! Under the sun!”
You won’t catch ME missing a Marcinek all-star lineup. Ever.
Kudos as usual to house engineer Chris Fama for perfect sound and to Mike Bryant for bringing in such world-class music!
[SET 1: Both Sides, Down by the River, Jan Jan, The Mighty Quinn, Higher Ground, Mothership Connection; SET 2: Sun God, Shaky Ground > Give Up the Funk, 60 Degrees in January, Funky Bitch, Shakedown Street, Hyperbole, Come Together, Red Hot Momma; E: George Wash > Flashlight]