funkUs is one of Orlando's most prolific and enduring bands. Dubbed "flavor rock" and declared "a guilty pleasure" (Orlando Weekly), their "groove heavy precision" (Orlando Sentinel) and often surprising blend of musical genres have inspired audiences statewide to move, groove and gather since 1998.
With 6 CD releases including contributions by many top Orlando/Tallahassee musicians with a notable cameo by Tom Constanten (formerly a member of The Grateful Dead), they continue to perform regularly coast to coast throughout Florida at premier music venues and festivals including the Bear Creek Music Festival (2009, 2011), the Orange Blossom Jamboree (2010-2011, 2013), Jambando In The Park (2010-2012) and many others. funkUs is also one of the founding members of Jambando in Orlando, Florida and has recently shared stages with Galactic, Soulive, Dumpstaphunk, Victor Wooten, Steve Kimock Band, Jeff Coffin and the Mu'tet, The Soul Rebels Brass Band, The New Mastersounds, The Lee Boys, Zach Deputy and Consider the Source.
Their latest CD highlights the most musically adventurous incarnation of the band to date and marks 14 years as Florida's commercially challenged purveyors of flavor rock.
Toni Brown, author, musician and former publisher/editor of Relix Magazine, writes: "funkUs fits neatly into the eclectic jamband musical melting pot. The band possesses powerful blues leanings and intense R&B and funk rhythms. With an emphasis on meaningful songwriting and free-form jam exploration, their songs range from quirky and catchy to emotionally moving. The combination results in highly danceable, energetic grooves that reach dizzying, intoxicating highs or soothing, spiritual lows."
Alex Ceserani - Vocals, Bass
Bill Bairley - Vocals, keyboards
Dave Cox - Bass, Drums, keyboards
Dave Mann - Vocals, Guitar
1. flavour - LP release, Aug. 2001
2. strobe light - LP release, Nov. 2002
3. free - LP release, May 2005
4. got problems? - limited LP release, Sept. 2009
5. funkUs meets the Curious Circus - limited 3-CD live LP release, Nov. 2009
6. coconut monkey - LP release, April 2012
Seventh Annual Spring Jambando with the Legendary JC's, SKIP, funkUs, Everyday Ghosts, the Dropa Stone, Gruda & Yoho, Sonar and more
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By Justin Strout Despite our long-documented, much grumbled-over – rightfully so – disregard for ...By Justin Strout
Despite our long-documented, much grumbled-over – rightfully so – disregard for jam music, we have to admit that, after exactly 50 of them, the Jambando and Spring Jambando festivals have survived and thrived to the point where it can be considered a legitimate institution. Founder Dave Mann says he’s worked to dispel the idea that this is a pentatonic orgy for noodlers, and this edition’s lineup confirms that, with sets by local soul masters the Legendary JC’s, post-hip-hop auteur SKIP, Mann’s own funkUs, rockers Everyday Ghosts and many more. Hearty congratulations to the little fest that could.
Jambando, Magoo’s hold secret recipe for fun
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By Bel Huston This weekend, try out this classic recipe for fun: great food and great music. You ...By Bel Huston
This weekend, try out this classic recipe for fun: great food and great music. You can pair an event and an eatery with names that dance off your tongue, hinting at the party to be had by you and your tastebuds alike: Orlando Jambando and Huey Magoo's. See? Fun. I dare you to say them together and not smile.
This Saturday, April 28, head down to the Plaza Live in Orlando to shake your groove thing to some great tunes, all from home-grown, local bands. Orlando Jambando boasts 17 bands playing on four stages, sharing nine hours of continuous music.
First, however, grab a bite to eat at Huey Magoo's...
After you've treated your palate to a party at Huey Magoo's, you'll be ready to rock out at Jambando Orlando.
"We like to call it 'Orlando on shuffle.' It's basically a cross-section of the variety of Orlando music," event organizer Dave Mann said.
Event emcee Kevin Moore, dubbed by Mann as the voice of Jambando, said the event started off with jam bands in the vein of the Grateful Dead and the Allman brothers, but has been branching out since the festival started in 2003. At this year's Jambando, you can expect to hear everything from jazz to alternative rock to hip hop.
The best part? The show is free.
"Our ultimate goal is to get people in the seats and be exposed to this art and this culture and this music. So this time out, we've dropped all pretensions of anything, and it's an absolutely free show," Moore said. "We want everybody to come and go as they please, we want them to experience as much as possible."
The event is family-friendly, too, so you can bring the little ones. In addition to music, there will be food trucks, vendors and even face-painting at the event.
"We really do try to incorporate everybody," Moore said. "Sometimes you can't get away without your 5- and 7-year-olds."
Mann said that each of the bands featured is releasing a CD, making it the largest CD-release party in Orlando. Each band's CD will be available for purchase at the event.
Orlando Jambando will be held at the Plaza Live in Orlando, from 5:00 p.m. to 1:30. a.m. No tickets necessary; admission is free and re-entry is OK, too.
"There's this whole artistic scene in Orlando for them to enjoy, and it's here all the time, not just for Jambando. It's here year round," Mann said. "We're just hoping we can turn everybody to the scene that's right under their noses."
Feed your body and your soul this weekend at Orlando Jambando and Huey Magoo's. Entertain your taste buds with Magoo sauce and chicken tenders, then head down to Orlando to dance the night away with artists from the local music scene for a groovy weekend.
Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival 2011
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By Jennifer Schaffner ...Orlando locals funkUs and Thomas Wynn & the Believers both played that n...By Jennifer Schaffner
...Orlando locals funkUs and Thomas Wynn & the Believers both played that night. funkUs, as the name suggests, brought the funk to properly break in festival goers. Thomas Wynn & The Believers used their southern rock vibe to lure interested parties from their campsites and put the locals at ease. Although the full festival crowd had not yet entered the grounds both bands put on great shows and extended the Orlando talent further into the festival scene.
Bear Creek Music & Art Festival 2011 – Preview
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...funkUs, led by venerable guitarist Dave Mann, have long been in the forefront of everything jam c......funkUs, led by venerable guitarist Dave Mann, have long been in the forefront of everything jam coming outta Orlando… including the semi-regular concert series, Jambando.
What Wouldstock Jambando? at The Plaza LIVE
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By Jennifer Schaffner ...One of the standouts for the night included funkUs playing The Doors. B...By Jennifer Schaffner
...One of the standouts for the night included funkUs playing The Doors. Being well known for their eccentric singer Jim Morrison, The Doors weren’t the easiest band to play, but they stepped it up and did a great job capturing the music and the spirit of the The Doors. Playing songs like “The End” and “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar),” they had the crowd singing and dancing along.
Catching The funkUs...
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By Tonia Brewer I have just recently been exposed to the funkUs, and I'm thrilled! Their new mot...By Tonia Brewer
I have just recently been exposed to the funkUs, and I'm thrilled! Their new motto recently posted on FaceBook is right on. "Quando omni flunkus funkUs..." that's Latin for "When all else fails, play funkUs." No doubt, many of you may already be infected. funkUs has been spreading around Central Florida for the last 12 years, leaving funki (friends and fans) in their travels. Yet, there are some people unaware that funkUs is amongst us.
funkUs was originally discovered growing here in Orlando in 1998. Since their first appearance on the scene, the group has evolved through five different versions of members, a few disbands, and debuts. In the spirit of a true jam band, the talented core members -- Dave Mann (guitar/vocals), Adam Freeman (drums/percussion), Brian Burgess (bass/vocals), and newest addition Bill Bairley (keys/vocals) -- enjoy changing the lineup from time to time and jamming with funki friends.
So, what's in a name? For funkUs, it speaks not only to their sound, dubbed flavor rock for the highly influenced jam rock, funk and blues taste it leaves in your soul, but also to who they are. "I noticed throughout the years, playing in different projects in Orlando, there always seemed to be one constant, that the music tended to grow on people over time, so funkUs is an attempt to name a kind of musical fungus that'll grow on you. Get it?" explained Mann. "We always spell our name with a small 'f' and a large 'U' in all instances. The small 'f' is meant to de-emphasize the funk, which is only a small part of our musical influence, and the uppercase 'Us' symbolizes the community forged through music, which is basically, all funk to us. A little quirky, sure, but it does have meaning!"
Going viral with more than 10 festival performances including a main stage concert at The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park (in Live Oak, FL), and gigs all over the state from Tallahassee to Miami has made for a busy year. Locally in O-town, some of the highlights for the year include the Wildlife Jambando featuring Sam Rivers, where they helped raise over $3,000 for the Wildlife Foundation of Florida's efforts to clean up the Gulf spill. funkUs also reprised their role as Santana to a full house at The Plaza Theatre (one of their favorite local venues) during Woodstock Jambando 2010. "These are the good times," said Mann.
Recently, funkUs has been working on a new CD, their third in less than two years. Happily, there is no cure for the funkUs. Do yourself a favor and contract it as soon as possible.
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...Even the less well-known bands were playing their booties off. Orlando/Tallahassee band Curious C......Even the less well-known bands were playing their booties off. Orlando/Tallahassee band Curious Circus with funkUs had 14 people on the campground stage Sunday morning, including the Lee Boys’ steel guitar player Roosevelt Collier. [ed. note: Also, Pete Shand from The New Mastersounds and Zach Deputy.]
Jam is main flavor of Orlando's funkUs
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By Rick de Yampert Entertainment Writer DAYTONA BEACH -- The Orlando band funkUs calls its music...By Rick de Yampert
DAYTONA BEACH -- The Orlando band funkUs calls its music "flavor rock," which its members describe as "an alternative form of rock 'n' roll that pays tribute to the musical rebellion it has always represented by exploring combinations and boundaries of different musical styles, or flavors."
And how does the band deliver its flavors? With jam -- as in jam band. The new funkUs CD, "free," features jam rock styles that recall Phish and the Allman Brothers on the breezy track "Name That Show," some funky Santana vibes on "Everybody's Right (Free)" and "FYF," a salsa beat on "Bonnie Lopez" and some dreamy, psychedelic grooves on "Run."
Of course, any self-respecting jam band must pay respects to the spirit of the late Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, and funkUs does so with the mellow, countrified "Take a Rest" and "Smiley Garcia." That's Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten who guests on the "Garcia" track.
On Spotlight: funkUs
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By Jillian Smith The Orlando legends known as funkUs have finally released their third CD, free. ...By Jillian Smith
The Orlando legends known as funkUs have finally released their third CD, free. Backstage Pass recently caught their act and sat down to chat with the foursome, and what we found was one of the best acts – local or otherwise – that we’ve seen to date. We all know that when you go out to support the local music scene there’s a chance that you’re going to run into something slightly less than spectacular.
As I walked down the stairwell that leads into Tanqueray’s (Orlando), any such fears that might have been lingering just melted away to the smooth sounds that were pouring out the door. Working like a well-oiled machine throughout the first set, the rhythm section – comprised of John “Mojo” Jones on bass and vocals, Dave “the cat” Mann on guitar and vocals, and Adam FreeMan on drums – was tight, energetic, dynamic, and flawless. Lead singer Ron Betts immediately reminded me of a rock conglomeration of Muddy Waters’ soul, Moxy Fruvous’ humor, and Freddie Mercury’s stage presence. His charismatic, in-your-face, insightful, all-consuming blues vocals were masterfully mixed and tangled among the band’s funk-a-delic, jam-bandish rock sound. In short, funkUs blew me and the rest of the audience away. We sat entranced, listening to their grooves, completely swept away by the melodies, until they decided to take a short break. Dripping with sweat and ready for some fresh air, the band headed out to the crowded street above.
Once we were out of the bar, the foursome’s offstage charm and intelligence were easier to see. Even though they look like anyone else that you might randomly see on the street, there are super men lurking beneath the public images of these mild-mannered Clark Kents. They are witty, personable and, above all, down to earth.
When asked about the origins of funkUs, Dave recalled, “The bulk of us met at the old blues jam at the downtown jazz and blues club years and years ago… back in 1990. But Adam was playing in a different band when we met. Then we ran into him again in ’97, when we did a gig for a friend. After that, funkUs was formed.” In the seven years since, it is clear that these guys have become quite comfortable with one another.
They are so laid back, in fact, that they aren’t really even certain how their music gets made. “We are so inconsistent,” Ron tells us. “There are times when someone comes in with a song, and they’ll have the whole thing written out and say, ‘Play it like this.’ Then other times we’ll just be playing around and someone will say, ‘I like that. Let’s add this.’ And then the next thing you know, we have a song.” “We have absolutely no formula,” Mojo adds. “Sometimes we don’t even know what song we’re going to play next set,” says Dave laughing.
Whatever it is that they have been doing seems to work because they have managed to create music that is easy to listen to and enjoy no matter what your individual tastes may be. They take pride in creating “flavor rock.” Aptly named because, as Dave says, “It mixes so many different flavors.”
You can check the band out for yourself at their shows on June 25 at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando and on August 6 at the Java Junction in Clearwater. Or check out www.funkUs.com for more information, sound bites, reviews, and more. A find like this is what local music is all about.
Sunshine Festival review
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By Toni Brown (exerpt) ...funkUs laid out an amazing performance. The band's powerful delivery c...By Toni Brown
...funkUs laid out an amazing performance. The band's powerful delivery came through with the precision that was intended. In addition to some wonderful originals, including "Everybody's Right," the latin instrumental "Bonnie Lopez," "Sleep" and the special request of "Smiley Garcia," funkUs did themselves proud with beautiful arrangements of "Brown-Eyed Women," "Cumberland Blues," "Lovelight" and "Ripple."
Bluesfest 2004 review
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By Ben Basile (exerpt) ...The next 45 minutes were a long highlight of the event, as Dave "the C...By Ben Basile
...The next 45 minutes were a long highlight of the event, as Dave "the Cat" Mann, Ron Betts and funkUs took the stage. If you ever needed to book B.B. King, Albert King, and the Grateful Dead for an event and they were all unavailable, booking funkUs instead would ensure that everything would be alright. Ron and Dave are as good as they come in Central Florida, and "Mojo" Jones and Adam Freeman form a really tight rhythm section as well.
Their set list for the event was pure "funk-fest" gold, and the delighted crowd loved every moment of it. Some of the best performances were "How Blue Can You Get", "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "Turn On Your Lovelight".
funkUs w/ Tom Constanten of the Grateful Dead
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By Toni Brown (exerpt) ...funkUs brought the night to fruition. The powerhouse jamband truly ro...By Toni Brown
...funkUs brought the night to fruition. The powerhouse jamband truly rose to the occasion by bringing their distinct flavor to Grateful Dead favorites, notably "New Speedway Boogie", as Tom Constanten (former keyboardist for the Grateful Dead) brought his own unique flourish to funkUs' set. A well-timed, surprising "Werewolves of London/All Along the Watchtower" delighted the crowd. Tom felt at home on funkUs favorites "Smiley Garcia" and "Bonnie Lopez". It was a spectacular night!!
Article about Jambando featuring funkUs
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Noodling Towards Nirvana Kynda, funkUs, Bluelegs and the Toni Brown Band By Emily Ruff With mor...Noodling Towards Nirvana
Kynda, funkUs, Bluelegs and the Toni Brown Band
By Emily Ruff
With more than three decades of clichés, misconceptions and a not insubstantial amount of substandard music ascribed to the "jam band" movement, it's a pretty intimidating burden of proof that the next wave of musicians in the loose-limbed, improvisation-heavy scene faces. But, despite a limited local profile and the aforementioned stereotypes, a clutch of Orlando bands are forging forward by creating their own mini-scene in Central Florida. Yes, in true flower-child parlance, they're quick to refer to themselves as "family," but, across the board, they equally reject the "hippie" moniker and insist that, rather than aligning with one particular sound or style, they just want to have a good time.
Four of these bands -- Kynda, funkUs, Bluelegs and the Toni Brown Band -- will come together March 19 for Jambando at Hard Rock Live, a sort of minifestival highlighting the talents of the burgeoning scene. In its second year, Jambando organizers hope the event will show the community how healthy -- and creatively viable -- the local jam scene is and, more importantly, bring some new faces into its family.
"The Orlando music scene has so much quality music in it," says Dave Mann, guitarist for funkUs and initiator of Jambando. "We don't think [the jam band] scene is better than any other, but we do have a great time doing it and we just want more people to know, and to come party."
The roots of the national jam band scene lead, of course, back to the Grateful Dead. The group's psychedelic and improvisation-heavy heyday in the early and mid-'70s was a watershed for bands looking for a creative continuation of the sounds pioneered under the warm glow of lava lamps. As a departure from the pop-song-centric standards of the music industry, the sound -- whether the patented noodling of the Dead or the brain-fried boogie of the Allman Brothers -- connected with the lost tribes of hippies, who, no longer a bankable pop culture commodity, had become something of a self-contained clan for disaffected youth across America.
"They played no set time limits, no three-minute songs, and never went commercial," says Toni Brown of the primary reason this first wave of "jam bands" was so appealing. Brown was formerly the editor and publisher of the magazine Relix, which began in the early '70s to unify the community of Dead fans who taped concerts and, in its own way, contributed mightily to uniting and defining the scene; through Relix, the community of fans grew larger and more connected.
As the scene grew, it was only natural that a second wave of bands would emerge. Though clearly beholden to the tradition established by their precursors, when bands like Phish, Blues Traveler and Widespread Panic emerged in the late '80s and early '90s, the sound had begun to expand even more. Although these bands and their fans placed a similar emphasis on community and infinitely expandable live performances, Jerry Garcia never played a vacuum cleaner on stage. Another characteristic these bands shared with their predecessors was near-unanimous critical derision, based primarily on stereotypes about the music and its fans.
However, a third wave of jam bands -- like the local groups playing Jambando -- has emerged across the country, both inspired and chastened by the reputations and repertoires of those that jammed before. Musically, they draw a sharp contrast between themselves and the first two waves, with sonics as beholden to P-Funk and John Coltrane as anything else.
Within the local scene, Kynda delves into sophisticated improvisation, while funkUs digs deeply into a jazz, blues and (obviously) funk bag, able to turn a James Brown hook into a 15-minute exploration. Bluelegs, a reincarnation of the jam band Refried Confusion, formed for last year's Jambando with the sole purpose of experimental explorations. Ex-Relix editor Brown's eponymous band rounds out the lineup for this year's festival with folksy, acoustic rock.
"It is musically the most open scene there is," says Mann. "No jam band can be pigeonholed in any particular style. It is a wide-open scene that draws on a lot of influences, and the fans are more appreciative of a wider range of music."
Pat Campbell is one of those fans. A Grateful Dead tape collector, he began attending Kynda shows in 1996, after meeting neighbor Tony Hume, Kynda's guitarist. He has attended almost every local show since, and now keeps track of set lists and writes show reviews on the band's online discussion forum.
"I thought I would just go see him because he was my neighbor," says Campbell. "At first, I wasn't sure. But I went again, and realized they weren't half bad. It is amazing how far they have come since 1996. They are evolving and each week I hear something I didn't before."
That evolution is something that Kynda keyboard player Pete Orenstein equates to the maintenance of a relationship with a significant other. Just like marriage, he says, the worst thing that could happen would be for things to get stagnant.
"The only way to make it work is to keep growing and keep evolving," says Orenstein. "Every show has to be better than the previous show, and you always have to rethink what you are playing, to step up and play it differently each time."
"Sometimes we're less accessible to the mainstream because we experiment," says Carter Everett, lead guitarist for Bluelegs. And though the idea of challenging an audience would be anathema to many bands, Everett admits that "people find they acquire a taste for the music quickly."
"We scare people sometimes, although not intentionally," says Ron Betts, lead singer for funkUs. "We're not DJs, and we're not pop. When people see us, they don't know what to expect."
Symbolizing more than just four individual groups of musicians, the bands taking part in this year's Jambando have long, intertwined histories that speak as much to a "family" vibe as to shared philosophies about music. Their members have cross-pollinated over the past two decades, playing in various combinations of ensembles until finding their niche. To track their past amalgamations, one needs a genealogical chart, and it's not unreasonable to expect that further permutations will emerge.
"Over the years, it has been a pond of people that made different bands at different times," says Jim Mahoney, who plays guitar with funkUs.
"It's been evolutionary," says Brown. "It's amazing that so many bands come into the circle."
That circle is one that, though fortunate to have a devoted and growing fanbase, is at odds with the commercial music scene. The bands point to the current limbo of the music industry -- plagued by falling album sales and the digital music phenomenon -- and embrace the growing grassroots support of their organic, independent music. After all, if the music of jam bands offers nothing else, it's an unmitigated embrace of the live experience.
"While the commercial music industry has fallen flat, the jam band scene is thriving," says Brown. "We have never been commercial. We have nothing to lose."
Despite national successes for the "scene," the Orlando bands that are participating in Jambando face the same plights shared by most players of original music in the city: jaded audiences, obstinate club owners and, perhaps most daunting, the shadow cast by the Mouse over Orlando's national reputation. Ironically though, the jam band scene is perhaps the only one in Orlando to actually benefit from proximity to the parks. Although there are few venues in town that book the bands consistently, the ones that do are odd oases: Irish pubs spitting distance from the entrances of Walt Disney World (Kitty O'Shea's) and Universal (Reilly's Lantern Pub). Though both bars host a variety of music, jam bands were the first live acts to play these venues and, to this day, are a mainstay of their live music schedules.
That unlikely locale is indicative of the difficulty these bands are having in reaching their core audience, and they all note that their fanbase is disconnected, without the sort of community grapevine shared by many national -- or even regional -- bands. Even Brown, whose years with Relix certainly attuned her to sniffing out this sort of music, lived in Orlando for a year and a half before stumbling onto the local scene.
"I sat on my couch for two years," says Brown. "I couldn't believe it took me so long, especially with my background. It's just difficult to know what is going on in Orlando when you first get here."
But with an event like Jambando, it's reasonable to expect the fans and bands to coalesce into something resembling the proactive communities that sprouted up around the city's punk and metal scenes. Plus, local jammers offer something that their famous counterparts can't: reasonable prices for quality live music on a regular basis.
"Ticket prices now are so astronomical that you have to pick and choose what show you want to go to, instead of going to a cheap show and seeing four main bands," says Mahoney.
What will carry the scene through is family. Musicians and longtime fans both equate the scene to a family. Each band points to the welcoming crowd of fans as the reason they continue playing.
"As awkward and silly and hokey as it might sound to people, it's relating to each other in a family-like atmosphere," says Hume. "I would not consider myself by any means a hippie, but in the aspect of treating each other as brothers and sisters, the hippie feeling has carried into our scene.
"It's about an exchange of energy. You're surrounded by a happy, supportive crowd, and the music just flows naturally."
And, just like most families, the members of the Orlando jam scene tend to look alike. Although the crowds and the players easily cross ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries, it doesn't take long to notice that there are very few female musicians in the scene.
"That will soon change, once people know we are here," says Brown, the only woman playing at Jambando. "Women will find their space in this scene, they just have to come out and play finally."
Another conspicuous absence is that of former Grateful Dead fans. Though all the bands would be quick to insist that they're far from being Jerry clones, the sonic lineage from the Fillmore through Phish shows to Jambando is pretty clear, which makes it surprising that the folks who were there at the beginning aren't here now.
"The older fans should be out here," says Brown. "This is their music, they just haven't heard about it yet."
Once they do, the musicians are confident that their following will grow. They feel the scene simmering beneath Orlando's surface, and they're confident it will bubble over.
"There is a change in the air, for all of us in our scene, because people are catching on," says Mann. "It really feels like the edge of something, which is why we are bringing everyone together to have a big party and share that common experience."
"It is a really important time right now, like in the early 1990s before grunge came out," says Betts.
"There was a void where there was no good music coming out, and we are at another juncture like that now. What comes out of it is going to be exciting, and I hope we are a part of it."
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By Roy Harper Out of Orlando, Florida, comes funkUs. Their 2 CDs are 'flavour' (2001), and 'strob...By Roy Harper
Out of Orlando, Florida, comes funkUs. Their 2 CDs are 'flavour' (2001), and 'strobe light' (2002). funkUs is Ron Betts (RB), Dave Mann (DM), Jim Mahoney (JM), Adam Freeman (AF), and John Jones (Mojo).
RH - Oysters: Raw, cooked, or not at all ?
RB - Not ! Ugh !
JM - Used to be raw, but lately I go for cooked.
DM - WELL-steamed, baby! Something about cold and slimy just doesn't work for me.
RH - How do oysters relate to the music of funkUs ?
RB - They seem to like it. In our scientific research, we discovered that they developed larger pearls when exposed to funkUs music than when not.
DM - Must be the (our) 'flavor rock'...
RH - What is the meaning of the group's name, funkUs ?
DM - Well, we figured that we've been growing on fans for a number of years, much like a fungus would.... (get it ?). The name 'funkUs' was born to name the music and experience we strive to create at every show. It's what we do, basically. We are not your traditional funk band, tho. The word "funk" in language means many things. We think funk music should be just as varied.
JM - Should we go get some oysters after this ?
Mojo - I'm game....
RH - How would things be different if the band name was 'Usfunk' ?
DM - Uh... we'd attract dyslexic fans ?
RB - See ! I told you Usfunk was a better band name !
AF - I still like F$@K US better....
RH - You call your music 'Flavor Rock'. What is that ?
DM - Commercially challenged grooves that explore the many different textures of music. It's a mix of BB King neets The Dead with a lot of Meters and little Phish and moe. -- mixed in for flavor, of course.
Mojo - Oyster rock.
RH - Is being from Orlando, a detterant or plus ?
RB - It has its moments...
DM - I'm not sure yet. Ask me again in 10 years.
RH - The band was formed in 1998, has 'core' members, but a lot of various musicians come & go in the band as 'contributing' artists. Why?
RB - It's all about the flavor.
RH - Can funkUs ever be a household name ?
RB - I suppose it could be... I guess it depends on why...
DM - It should be... it's everywhere !
AF - What is ?
DM - Fungus. Wasn't that the question ?
AF - **groan**
RH - If you were stuck on a desert island, what 5 albums would you have to have ?
RB - Synchronicity-Police, BB King Live at Cook County Jail, The Royal Fireworks Music (Handel), Santana's Greatest Hits, and How To Build A Raft And Get Off A Desert Island (Books on CD).
DM - Sgt. Peppers, Warts & All Vol. 3, A Picture Of Nectar (Phish)
JM - The Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East.
DM - Oh, yeah: don't forget their new album, Hitting The Note.
Mojo - Isn't that more than five ?
AF - What's an album ?
RH - What food best describes funkUs ?
RB - PuPu Platter - a variety of taste on one plate.
DM - Stir fry- lots of ingredients to create the perfect blend.
Mojo - Oysters ? Slimy, gooey goodness ?
JM - Come off it, Moj....
RH - Goals & ambitions of the band ?
RB - Make great music, drink heavily, leave a beautiful corpse.
AF - What he said.
DM - Especially the drinking part.... Ok, seriously ? Our goal is to keep writing and performing to get to that point where we can play on any stage in the world and create a great experience for ourselves and anyone who attends... and to drink heavily...
RH - If If someone else was stuck on a desert island, why would they want to have a funkUs CD ?
RB - To trade with the Monkey King for food, building supplies and a few chimps for concubines.
DM - Though they might not get all that for one CD. Better to have the whole collection...
RH - How has the band been doing as far as getting airplay, gigs, and building a fan 'base' ?
DM - Pretty good. Thanks for asking.
RH - What lies ahead for the band ?
Mojo - Does anyone have Nostradamus's new number ?
DM - How about The Amazing Randy's ?
JM - We take things one gig at a time and play each one as if it's our last.
RH - Time has just stood still. There can only be one song immortalized for all time. What is it ?
RB - The Hokie Pokie. Ultimate fan participation song.
DM - Oh, God, NO, Ron !
AF - I thought I told you that I never wanna hear you play that song again ?
DM - It's 'Imagine' for me. John Lennon. It's the perfect song - a powerful message through the simplest of melodies. It's simplicity is its beauty. 'Waste' by Phish is also like that.
RH - Additional Comments ?
RB - Haven't I said enough ? What do you want from me ? How much more do I have to give to feed your voracious appetite ? Away from me - you lowly gastropod ! Have a nice day !
JM - Now, about those oysters...........
strobe light CD review
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By Paul Hennig If you haven't already guessed by the band's name, funkUs plays funk - and may we ...By Paul Hennig
If you haven't already guessed by the band's name, funkUs plays funk - and may we add top-notch soulful funk at its finest. Our props go out to these cats for their outstanding musicianship and all-around professional approach. The 11 tracks on the album are well-crafted, recorded, mixed and mastered. With its eco-packaging and excellent artwork, it appears the band spared no expense to create a great record. If funk, soul and blues is your cup of tea, we highly recommend this disc. Good job, guys.
Same time, same place
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By Mark Padgett "A prison sentence" is how most area bands would describe a two-year stint at an ...By Mark Padgett
"A prison sentence" is how most area bands would describe a two-year stint at an Irish pub located in the heart of the tourist district. Not jammers funkUs (funkus.com), who, on Saturday, March 16 -- the designated St. Patrick's Day -- celebrate having performed (almost) every Friday night for two years at Kitty O'Shea's. (Don't get confused: Because funkUs wanted to be a part of the huge drunkenness that is St. Patty's Day they moved what should have been a Friday party to Saturday. They return to Fridays on March 22.)
While Orlando's name-brand bands might not know where to find it, funkUs is proud to call "Kitty's" home. "I wouldn't trade Friday nights for hardly anything," says lead vocalist-guitarist Ron. "We have an appreciative crowd there ... I don't know if we could go anywhere else and get that same feeling."
Folks who've caught the band at Kitty's have been able to watch -- in "Making the Band"-style -- funkUs develop before their very eyes. "Having that house gig every week, it really helped us put our sound together and find out what we were gonna be -- because we didn't know what we were going to be," says lead guitarist-vocalist Dave Mann.
Now they are confident enough to take it on the road, making the odd appearance at festivals and other local haunts like Scruffy Murphy's.
Fridays at Kitty's are unique in that for the first half of the night, funkUs plays to tourists stopping by for a beer or a bite. But close to midnight, regulars from the hospitality industry roll in and take over the joint.
Kitty's has certainly served funkUs well (and I'm not talking about food and drinks). Thanks to the steady gig, the band has been able to expand its fan base and cover the costs of its debut CD, "flavour," released last year. (A follow-up is currently in the works.) But being busy every Friday night does have its occasional drawbacks. "The worse thing is not being able to see some of the good shows that come around," says Mann.
The group -- rounded out by bassist Mojo, drummer Adam and and sometimes guitarist Jim Mahoney -- has been together for four years, having emerged from the ruins of popular area cover bands like Pitch Blue Jam, The Houseshakers, and The Crowd.
"We had years and years of gigs just for money and that was just many bad experiences," says Mann. "We found ourselves being a live jukebox more than anything -- that's the kind of thing that we want to get away from."
Following in the footsteps of Widespread Panic, moe. and Phish, funkUs works within the jam-band aesthetic. The players are guilty of noodling excessively -- that is what they do.
"We feel the spirit of that crowd, the energy that people who like that kind of music give out," says Mann. "It really feeds us when we are onstage."
I'm sure Jerry Garcia's corpse would give quite a turn at the fact that Orlando's jam bands are finding their groove in a shopping center alongside Hooters and Kobe Japanese Steak House. But, hey, it works, as the steady crowds indicate.
Since there really isn't that much going on in town when it comes to hippie throw-downs, Kitty's -- which hosts live music of all types Tuesday through Saturday -- has become the de facto jam room. (Popular stoner-rock act 4:20 lights up Kitty's on Wednesdays.) And by posting its dates online at jambands.com, funkUs has made Orlando part of the national jam-band consciousness, however cloudy it may be.
flavour CD review
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By Vanessa Bormann From the land of pop groups and Mickey ears emerges the most neighborhood bar ...By Vanessa Bormann
From the land of pop groups and Mickey ears emerges the most neighborhood bar sounding band to surface in a while. funkUs (which not so coincidentally sounds like "fungus" when spoken quickly) prefers to be called "flavor rock," and even though it's self-titling, it fits them.
The group -- Ron Betts (vocals/guitar), Dave "The Cat" Mann (vocals/guitar), John "Mojo" Jones (vocals/bass) and Adam FreeMan (drums) -- all look like guys you'd find yourself in a line at a grocery store with, and while their name suggests that they have a funk sound, they deny it. In reality, they can best be described as funk rock, more colorful than Barenaked Ladies, but traveling the same basic lyrical road.
A jam band style group that has been delighting audiences at Kitty O'Shea's every Friday for the past two years with songs such as "Whatever," the totally vocally pleasing "Cold Wind Blows," retro beach sounding "Darlin', Darlin', Darlin'" and "Warm."
Even though they are just releasing their first full-length record, they are in the process of infiltrating radio stations and have a self-funded tour on the horizon, the music quality is more than you'd expect from a small band in a big city. Join the "Funki" (what the members and fans are referred to as) and stop by Kitty O'Shea's or pick up their first and certainly not last CD, Flavour.
Sets typically include original material as well as choice covers from artists popular and obscure including: The Grateful Dead, Phish, Soulive, Ween, The New Mastersounds, The Meters, Santana, The Police, Oysterhead, Bob Marley, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, War, Los Lobos plus a deep bag of classic R&B, soul and a variety of blues to pull from.
In the Country
Love Comes Easy
Name That Show
Take a Rest
The Mountain Song
Victim of Circus Pants
There are no upcoming dates at this time.