I arrived in gorgeous Shepherdstown, West Virginia at the local Opera House Live and wasn't sure what to expect. I was quite impressed with the little laid back atmosphere of Shepherdstown and the venue itself which was a great space to see live music. I will most definitely be returning to the Opera house and Shepherdstown in the future and will likely bring some friends along.
The Ginger Funk All-Stars, opened up the show with very well-done renditions of “Sneaking Sally,” “Reggae Woman,” “Shakedown Street,” and even “The Wall.” But I enjoyed their original songs just as much as I did the covert. There were several times within their performance that I seemed to lose myself, focusing completely on the music and members on stage. They captured my attention. Ginger Funk seems to be on the cusp between road band and bar band but with just a little bit more practice and some more original tunes, The Ginger Funk All-Stars have something palpable to work with. With some added practice and dedication this band could easily be headlining venues all around Northern Virginia and the surrounding areas. Keep up the good work boys and lets jam soon.
The headlining band for the evening was After Funk, a jam, funk, progressive rock band from Toronto, Canada, who, “brought the chill, to test our will for funk.” To be honest, I had never even heard of this band before the show but boy, was I in for a surprise when they came out and absolutely shredded, immediately swinging for the fences. The crowd may have been small but the energy on stage resonated with everyone there and I was totally blown away. This doesn't happen to me very often and especially coming as a total surprise. The lead singer, Yanick Allwood’s vocals are phenomenal but every member of After Funk brings their own style and presence to the stage. I was truly impressed with guitarist, Phil Tessis and his animated playing style. Not only does he have chops but he knows his stuff and after talking with him after the show, we share many musical similarities and connections. ( I am waiting to hear that “Peaches en Regalia.”) For me to be impressed with any live guitarist is few and far between and I respect Phil’s unique guitar playing style and ability. Drummer, Jaime Rosenberg not only impressed me musically but he seems to know the music business very well. It was reassuring to see his huge smile behind the drumkit all night, knowing he was having just as much fun as I was. Bassist, Justin Bontje is the backbone of this band, laying it down effortlessly, not only on the frets but on paper as well, with some sweet poster art.
I was unfamiliar with their original songs but After Funk seamlessly weaves teases and covers into their songs and setlists. Some notable teasers that I heard were, “Oye Como Va” Santana, “Take On Me” Aha and even “Teen Town” by Weather Report. When Yanick brought out the keytar it was something altogether different, it was as if he was bringing out the heavy fire power to slay us all. From an amazing solo of the US National Anthem to more progressive structures much like Edgar Winter's “Frankenstein” Yanick can play it all and the boys follow right in behind him.
I'm really impressed with After Funk’s original material and song writing capabilities. I was able to grab a copy of their latest Album, “Til’ The Sun Comes Up” and loved it, horns and backup singers included. I'm also highly impressed and surprised at the band's level of musicianship, especially at such a young age but this only leaves room for more growth from the members of After Funk.
This band can basically do it all: pop vocal structures, progressive rock and jazz standards solos, straight James Brown soul and funk with Motown transitions. After Funk takes one of the leading spots on my list of must-see new jam bands in the scene right now. I look forward to watching this band grow and evolve at every turn that comes their way. I can see After Funk getting as big as some of the younger bands in the community very quickly and they have the potential to get even bigger with the right business and musical maneuvers. I would love to see After Funk tour with bands like, New Mastersounds, Dopapod, Lettuce or Soulive or even Turkuaz. Look out for After Funk and take the time to check them out, I am positive you will not be disappointed. Thanks to the guys from After Funk for blowing my mind and indulging me after the show.
Keep the Jam Alive,
Jam Band Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.