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Band R&B Funk


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Photo: press photo

For several years, Stone Jug was almost single-handedly keeping funk alive in the Harrisburg area.

The band was kind of a Tower of Power-meets-Chili Peppers deal, complete with a horn section and a breakneck groove, all rhythm and bounce and attitude. It was funk with a capital F.

But to singer, guitarist and admitted funk-aholic Tony Catalano, something was still missing. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something was just a little off. And then he finally figured out the problem: The music still wasn’t funky enough.

Funk is the stuff that keeps Catalano going. He’s like a funk junkie. He needs his fix, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to get it. In the case of Stone Jug, it meant deconstructing the band and starting over with a new outlook, a new approach in which funk – nasty, dirty, junk-in-the-trunk funk – was even more prevalent. Hence, Funktion.

As the name suggests, there is nothing ambiguous about Catalano’s newest band. This is raw, booty-shakin’ funk-a-dunk-dunk. Funktion embraces everything that superfreaks like George Clinton and James Brown brought to the table, and then funks it up even more with some flavor of its own.

“‘Funk’ is for the funk, and the ‘tion’ is for everything else,” Catalano explains, “because we still do a little bit of the ska, the reggae, the Santana, Latin-y kind of feel.

“I’ve always gravitated towards soulful things,” he says. “When we started playing funkier stuff in Stone Jug, people really got up and danced and had a good time. And the funkier stuff is what we really enjoy and we really put our heart into.”

With Funktion, Catalano is letting his freak flag fly, and he sounds like he’s having a blast in the process. The band covers the full spectrum of funk-related music – from Tower of Power to James Brown to Maceo Parker and the Commodores – and mixes in a handful of originals just to keep things interesting.

“We’re trying to add in as much funk as we can. Pretty much, if it’s funky, we like it,” Catalano says with a laugh. “We’re doing Tower of Power covers with one horn and two vocalists. It’s been fun. A lot of people are amazed that we can pull that kind of stuff off. It may not be the best orchestration of the song, but they’re digging it.”

To help him in his quest for maximum funkiness, Catalano recruited two other former members of Stone Jug (drummer Casey Kraynak and saxophonist Max Matvienko) as well as keyboardist Jeremy Wallman and bassist Gabriel Middleton, whom he credits as the glue that holds all the slippery funk together.

“This is the funkiest guy in Harrisburg,” Catalano says. “We give him a spotlight at every show. He starts off a song with a five or 10-minute bass solo. The crowd loves it.”

Given that there is a shortage of funk bands in Central Pa., Funktion has been able to find an audience relatively quickly. It also doesn’t hurt that the band is really good at what it does.

“There’s just so much good funky music out there, but around here people don’t hear it,” Catalano laments. “Full Effect does a great job with funky stuff too, and Life on Mercury, but those are about the only funk bands around here. So it’s kind of cool because it keeps us working.

“We’ve met a lot of people that said they came out [to a show] simply because of the name,” he says. “There’s not too many people out there that don’t like funk.”

Now that Catalano has his team of funkateers in place, he’s getting ready to start saturating the market with Funktion originals, beginning with a four-song EP and culminating with a full-length album that could be out by the end of the year. After that, his ambitions are simple: “Take over the world.”

Visit the band’s website at for more info.

- Story: Jeff Royer Fly Magazine


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