Marvelous Funkshun, the dynamic jam quintet from Winston-Salem, was winding down their summer tour when they made a stop at the Dunedin Brewery on Saturday, July 22nd. Shortly before they embarked on the tour, they had released an eponymous EP (read our review here).
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. However, for this pat of the tour, Kitchen was not aboard. However, at the last moment, Bill Stevens was able to get a flight in to play keyboards. However, he didn’t have any equipment with him. That might have been a problem elsewhere, but not at DunBrew. Proprietor Mike Bryant to the rescue… with keyboard!
We had missed the beginning of the set, which included three tunes from the EP and a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover (“Soul to Squeeze”). They were all up in “Rest My Bones” when we arrived. Next they blasted a tremendous version of “Funky Bitch” (and I learned this is a Son Seals tune!), followed by a solid “Simple Kind of Man.” Johnson adds so much to this band’s sound with his blistering pedal steel guitar. Robinson was abusing his guitar pedals and handling the vocals as they closed the set with R.L. Burnside’s “Georgia Women,” a really badass boogie driven by Bagley on bass and Moore’s thundering drums.
MF opened the second set with the first song I ever heard them perform, a totally redneck version of “Get Low,” that classic by Little John and the Eastside Boyz. Just awesome! “Liquor Store” from the EP was next, full of great solos and massive rhythm section. Stevens may have been a last-minute fill-in, but you would never have known it; his keyboards were part of every tune, especially this one with the Hammond B3 effect. Johnson soared, then Bagley before they segued into a great “Use Me,” then back to “Liquor Store.”
They proceeded to tear up a Bukka White tune popularized by North Mississippi All-Stars, “Shake ’Em On Down,” and did they ever! Later in the set, they killed “Goin’ Down,” which moved easily into “Just Got Paid.” After “Crazy” (Gnarls style), they turned Johnson loose on one of his true showcases (and one he does with The Lee Boys), the medley “Superstition > Don’t Stop (’Til You Get Enough) > Superstition.” WOW.
Set three was short but sweet. First, they teased me mercilessly with a lovely but all-too-brief warm-up of Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower.” Then they shot directly into a nasty “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” Robinson and Johnson trading Hendrix licks all the while. Another tune from the EP, “Wastin’ Time,” turned into a scorching hot dance number. And that led to “Church Jam” with Bagley and Robinson singing together and Stevens taking a dynamite synthesizer solo (on a keyboard he’d never seen before!).
Marvelous Funkshun is good for your soul. Catch them when you can. You can thank me later.
All photographs by kind permission of Jeffrey Moellering / Snapzalot.
[SET 1: Memoria, Fancy Car, $100 Bottles of Wine, Soul to Squeeze (RHCP), Rest My Bones, Funky Bitch, Simple Kind of Man, Georgia Women (RL Burnside); SET 2: Get Low, Liquor Store > Use Me > Liquor Store, Shake ’Em On Down, Check Back, Hook, Beanie, Goin’ Down > Just Got Paid, Crazy, Superstition > Don’t Stop > Superstition; SET 3: Little Sunflower tease, Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Wastin’ Time]
You can access the archive.org link for the show here.