Joey Porter's Funk Tributes
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Joey Porter's Funk Tributes


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"Joey Porter’s Sly & the Family Stone Tribute at the Goodfoot, June 9, 2007"

[FUNKADELIC TRIBUTE] Nobody’s ever been able to touch the madcap funk glory of Sly & the Family Stone. Sly’s mix of giddiness and political anger managed the tough task of perfecting the funk formula developed by James Brown and taking it to the next level. The result is a timeless body of work that has had an immeasurable influence on all urban music.

Saturday at the Goodfoot Lounge, hero worship was on the bill—and rightfully so—thanks to organist Joey Porter’s Sly & the Family Stone tribute. Tributes can be a scary thing, but Porter’s eight-piece ensemble, featuring musicians harvested from the local scene (of which Porter was a part for many years), presented a seamless tribute full of improvisation and booty-shaking greatness.

More importantly, the tribute managed a seemingly impossible task in a Portland venue: Almost everybody was actually dancing. “People don’t dance here because it’s mostly indie rock—it’s not danceable,” a sweaty Porter said between sets. “Shit, maybe there’s not enough funky dance around here.”

Porter—a former mainstay of the Portland scene as a member of Rubberneck, Five Fingers of Funk and Phat Sidy Smokehouse, as well the Porterhouse Quartet—recently moved to Boulder, Colo., where he leads the Joey Porter Quartet and is a sometime-member of the Motet. He booked the Sly show four months ago, and returned to Portland early last week to squeeze in a few hours of practice with the band. But the way the show played, it sounded like the group had been rocking the Sly catalog for years.

The show kicked off with a stomping rendition of the classic “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” with Jans Ingber and Paul Creighton handling the complex vocals. The band remained tight as it exploded into “Loose Booty” and “Babies Makin’ Babies.” Bassist Dan Scollard slapped and popped out some sexy grooves that left pairs in the front row unabashedly sucking face. Next, a high-energy “Dance to the Music” segued nicely into “I Want to Take You Higher” and “Everyday People.” The same three songs were revisited during the second set, but they were tweaked down to a slow, crawling funk pace and accented by solos from trumpeter Chris Littlefield and saxophonist Joshua Cliburn.

The show, which ran for more than three hours, finished with a sing-songy version of “Sing a Simple Song.” Grinning from ear to ear, Porter fired his fingers across the electric keys like an insane church organist hopped up on the finest PCP. When the show wrapped, Porter alluded to another, unspecified tribute in the near future. Judging by the reaction of the packed, sweaty audience and the near-perfect execution of the band, it couldn’t happen soon enough. - Willamette Week


(Fez) While I will fully admit to having listened to Head Hunters about ten times this week ("Vein Melter" is a great rhythm track when mixed with Aesop Rock's "Coma" instrumental on 45, FYI), I do think it is quite a task to take on Herbie's steez, and would require some giant cojones and a whole lot of talent. Luckily, this night is full of both--check out the jazzy funkiness of it all. JS - Portland Mercury

"Joey Porter's Tribute..."

From the smooth Watermelon Man to the deep grooves of Headhunters (arguably the finest instrumental funk album ever) and the robotic turntables of Rockit, Herbie Hancock’s the sort of master most musicians are afraid to touch. But former Portland mega-collaborator Joey Porter and his crew have never shied away from pulling off difficult tributes (like June’s funky Sly Stone tribute). In its fifth year, Porter’s Hancock tribute is likely to be better than ever, a celebration of Herbie’s genius mixed with the spirited improvisation and tight, soulful sounds for which the musician will forever be remembered. AP KRYZA. - Willamette Week

"Smile Please"

Joey Porter and company boogie on with a tribute to Stevie Wonder

My girlfriend and I have a running joke that when we get married, we’re going to have theme tables for the reception organized around ’70s soul artists. There’d be tables named after Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, The O’Jays, Parliament and even Shuggie Otis.

But the first table we could agree on was Stevie Wonder. Stevie is a god among men, and there’s no denying it. I’m not talking about “I Just Called to Say I Love You”-era Stevie, either, although as ’80s pop trash goes, you could do much, much worse. I’m talking about “Superstition”/

“Higher Ground”/“Boogie On Reggae Woman”-era Stevie.

I’m not normally one to tout popularity as proof of quality, but I’m also talking about more than 30 top-10 hits and 25 Grammy Awards.

I’m talking about five of the greatest soul albums ever made: “Music of My Mind,” “Talking Book,” “Innervisions,” “Fullfillingness’ First Finale” and “Songs in the Key of Life.” I’m talking about a soul artist who ruled over other soul artists when the term soul music still meant something.

Even more, I’m talking about an artist who defied the conventions of soul music, branching out into Latin and psychedelic tangents, experimenting with then cutting-edge analog keyboards and multitracking techniques that created layer upon layer of emotion-drenched groove.

Then there’s Stevie’s voice, which is to soul music what Willie Nelson’s is to country. It’s a wholly unique instrument, and I don’t throw the word unique around.

Paul Creighton, lead singer for the Portland neo-soul quintet Intervision, is one of three vocalists leading the charge of keyboardist Joey Porter’s Tribute to Stevie Wonder. The band also includes Dan Scollard (bass), Reinhardt Melz (drums), Joshua Cliburn (sax), Jans Ingber (vocals, percussion), Chris Littlefield (trumpet) and Jarrod Lawson (keys, vocals).

They play Bombs Away Cafe at 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18. The cover is $8, and if you’ve never been to one of this crew’s shows before, dress in layers. It’ll be hotter than the keyboard parts in “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” in there.

Talking to Creighton about Stevie is what I imagine it’s like to talk to Sean Penn about Clint Eastwood. Reverence is eclipsed only by enthusiasm and crazy outright joy at the prospect of getting to interpret his material.

“He almost didn’t need to copyright his songs in some ways, because they’re so impossible to sing,” he says. “He could go up one, two, three octaves in a single tune, so in order to be able to do it right, you need to be pretty flexible in your voice.”

When Creighton speaks of jumping octaves, he’s not talking about the likes of Mariah Carey, who jerks it with the crass flashiness of a sideshow daredevil. Stevie’s vocal leaps of faith were fluid and seemed as much a part of the seamless fabric of the song as the harmony vocals or the funky basslines.

“To impersonate him would be kind of silly,” Creighton says, and listening to Intervision’s latest album, “Shades of Neptune,” you can understand what he’s talking about. At once paying tribute to his muse and paving new personal alleys of gritty expression, Creighton’s voice has its own quality, albeit one steeped in the works of the master.

Similarly in love with Wonder is fellow vocalist Lawson, who attended Clackamas Community College with Creighton and has been searching for the perfect project to collaborate with him on ever since.

“Really great singers have a way of reaching in and grabbing hold of your heart,” he says of the intangible quality that has made Stevie’s voice such a mainstay of American pop music over the past 40-odd years.

As for how you go about approaching the music of your idol, Lawson says the key is to have the material down, but keep your options open. “When it’s Stevie, you kind of expect that anything can happen,” he says.

He also adds that to help capture the spirit of those vintage ’70s recordings, “we’re going to have a real clavinet, we’re going to have a real Fender Rhodes.”

If Porter and company’s past performances are any indicator, the material is in good hands. Starting with a tribute to Herbie Hancock and The Headhunters, the group’s slowly increased its vocal presence over the years, moving from The Meters to Sly and the Family Stone to this current ode to Wonder.

Rumor has it that the song list will include both hits and lesser-known album cuts. “Golden Lady,” “Summer Soft” and “Another Star” will nestle in alongside “Too High” and other cuts namedropped earlier in this column.

Both Lawson and Creighton had a chance to hear some of those songs when Wonder sold out McMenamin’s Edgefield stage this summer, and both were amazed by Wonder’s continuing vitality and the humanity that comes out when seeing him live.

“You hold them in such high regards that they become an archetype,” Creighton says, adding that while reinterpreting the songs with this tribute project, he hopes to “deliver them without offending Stevie too terribly.”

Jake TenPas can be reached at or 758-9514.
- Corvallis Gazette

"Live Review: Joey Porter's Tribute to Stevie Wonder at the Goodfoot"

Tribute bands. A dangerous proposition indeed. Sure, it’s nice to hear some of your favorite songs live, but do you really want to see, say, some prissy dude in a blonde wig and leather pants not exactly doing a tribute to, but rather an impression of, Robert Plant?
Enter former local mainstay Joey Porter’s recent slate of funk-based tributes, which has seen him gather a diverse group of local dynamos to shell out good, old-fashioned tributes to classic funk artists like James Brown, Herbie Hancock, and Sly and the Family Stone.
The operative word here is tribute. Not cover band. Not persona band. Tribute band. And with eight skilled musicians firing through 21 classics by the Motor City’s most beloved son, Stevie Wonder, on Saturday night, the band executed a tribute that shook the dank basement of the Goodfoot to its foundation, the writhing masses dancing maniacally in a trancelike way that only the music of Stevie can induce.
These weren’t impressions by a longshot, and between Jans Ingber and Intervision crooner Paul Creighton sharing mic duty, Stevie’s vocal range was completely covered, joy and charisma shining from the stage as the two vocalists seamlessly indulged their inner soul men. But it wasn’t just a vocal showcase. The band, led by Porter’s impeccable mastery of the ivories (no, they did not cover “Ebony and Ivory”), rocketed into renditions of Stevie classics both obscure and celebrated, leaving everybody in the place guessing and anybody within earshot dancing.
The band didn’t stick to the basics of the Stevie catalogue, either. While hits like “Master Blaster,” “Higher Ground,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” and “Superstition” pulsed to the audience’s delight, the band omitted such obvious choices as “My Cherie Amour,” “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” “Part Time Lover,” and “Sir Duke.” A wise choice, especially given the latter’s huge horn section, which couldn’t be worked out, even with the able skills of saxman Joshua Cliburn and trumpeter Steve Cannon, who comprised the horn section.
The band laid it on thick with lesser-known tunes like the funktastic “Superwoman,” “I Wish,” “Jesus Children” and other bangers from the legend’s decades-spanning career, taking time to delve into the songs through extended jams that highlighted the strengths of each member of the ensemble.
Maybe I’m gushing a bit, but Porter and crew’s tribute was more than a group of people playing the songs they love. These were musicians who seemed to be enjoying every measure of the music they played as much as the massive audience was, playing with a sheer pleasure rare for any live show. And in the end, the electricity, good vibes, and overall feeling of musical bliss lingered as the lights turned on and the grinning musicians took their bows before the drunken masses of dripping, giddy people. It was the kind of show that makes you long for a resurgence of the tribute show in its purest form, and a night that let everybody know that Portland might still have a little funk in its bones.
- Willamette Week


Porterhouse Quintet - Thumbs Up, Little Buddy
Porterhouse - Prime Cuts
Joey Porter Trio - Joey Porter Trio



Joey Porter, frontman for acclaimed Portland jazz/funk juggernaut, Porterhouse, returns to the music scene with a handpicked collection of the NW’s finest to pay sonic tribute to soul and fusion-era artists of the 60’s and 70’s.

The maiden voyage of the tribute band was launched several years ago to perform the tunes of groundbreaking funk/jazz masters, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters. After a string of sold-out shows, it became apparent that the band was not alone in their still-vibrant love of this era, so they formed several other all-star incarnations to deliver the music of the Meters, Sly Stone, and more recently, the greats Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

Joey’s collection of players boasts an array of musical affiliations. The fabric of the band is sewn by Porterhouse alumni, Joey Porter on keyboards (Porterhouse, Rubberneck, Five Fingers of Funk, the Motet), Joshua Cliburn on saxophones (Porterhouse, Rubberneck, Intervision), Reinhardt Melz on drums (Gino Vannelli, Randy Porter, Curtis Salgado, Bobby Torres Ensemble), and Dan Scollard on bass (Porterhouse, Thousand Pieces). In response to the conditional needs of the tribute orchestration, the group is accentuated by Jans Ingber on vocals and percussion (The Motet, Charlie Hunter), and Paul Creighton on vocals (Intervision).

The Willamette Week writes, “Tributes can be a scary thing, but Porter's eight-piece ensemble, featuring musicians harvested from the local scene, presents a seamless tribute full of improvisation and booty-shaking greatness… Judging by the reaction of the packed, sweaty audience and the near-perfect execution of the band, [another tribute show] couldn't happen soon enough.”

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Booking Contact:
Gabe Johnson / In The Pocket Artists
Ph: 541-550-7260 E:
URL: www.ThePocket.Biz

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