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Orlando, FL | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | SELF

Orlando, FL | SELF
Established on Jan, 1998
Band Rock Jam




"Jambando still jams after 10 years"

By Jim Abbott

Orlando musician Dave Mann always looks happy.

Even in the midst of organizing a slate of more than 20 local bands for Saturday's Jambando concert series, Mann is rarely seen without his Cheshire-cat grin.

One of the founders of that series, which marks its 10th anniversary Saturday on four stages at Plaza Live, Mann attributes his disposition to advice he received from blues legend B.B. King about 20 years ago in Orlando: "I met B.B. King when I was 22," Mann says. "For some reason, he decided to give me a piece of advice. He told me, "I've played music every single day for 70 years and it's always been fun. The minute it's not fun, it's time to find something else to do."

"That came from the king," Mann says, "so I've tried to follow it."

On Saturday, the fun will be provided by a roster of bands that includes such local favorites as the Hindu Cowboys, Gargamel! frontman Mandaddy, The Dropa Stone, Vova Zen and Mann's own funkUs. A midway with food vendors and artisans selling crafts and other hippie-friendly accessories will be in front of the Plaza's entrance.

"We consider ourselves music fans and we create these events for music fans," Mann says. "I have always enjoyed the huge music festivals — Langerado [the now-defunct music festival in South Florida] and Bonnaroo [in Manchester, Tenn.] — so I wanted to create that on a smaller stage."

The event has grown since the inaugural Fringe Jambando, a showcase for Central Florida jam-bands at the 2003 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For a time, the event was a monthly fixture at Hard Rock Live, then an occasional event at The Social. After roughly a two-year hiatus, Jambando moved into its current home at the Plaza in 2009, where it unfolds several times a year.

"They liked the idea of it being a community oriented thing," Mann says. "We work together to put these on because that's really the only way it can happen. There are no millionaires involved with this project, but in the Plaza we found a perfect match. You can get that big festival feel with four stages and they can accommodate the number of people that are coming."

Creatively, the Jambando crew is always looking for thematic wrinkles to keep fans — and the bands — interested. One of the most popular was the 2009 Woodstock Jambando, which packed the theater with fans to hear Orlando acts such as Kaleigh Baker re-create the music of the original Woodstock in 1969.

For this weekend's 10th anniversary show, the goal is to put together a marathon three-hour jam, in which members of different bands mingle together on stage for nonstop music.

"It's not as chaotic as it sounds," Mann says. "Musicians will be replacing musicians throughout. That's the goal, that most of the time there will be seamless transitions from band-to-band for three continuous hours of a huge jam."

For the finale, the goal is to set a Jambando record for the most musicians performing together onstage at once. Eugene Snowden's ensemble, Umoja, holds the record of 19.

funkUs tested the idea with a rotating cast of guests in a 2-1/2 hour set at last week's Florida Music Festival, part of a Jambando showcase that was one of the event's highlights.

"I can't remember the last time I had so much fun," Mann says. B.B. King would be proud. - Orlando Sentinel - April 2013

"Seventh Annual Spring Jambando with the Legendary JC's, SKIP, funkUs, Everyday Ghosts, the Dropa Stone, Gruda & Yoho, Sonar and more"

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. - Orlando Weekly - April 2012

"Jambando, Magoo’s hold secret recipe for fun"

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. - Seminole Chronicle - April 2012

"Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival 2011"

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. - - November 2011

"Bear Creek Music & Art Festival 2011 – Preview"

...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. - Brotherly Love Productions - November 2011

"What Wouldstock Jambando? at The Plaza LIVE"

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. - - August 2011

"Catching The funkUs..."

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. - ConnectionsMag - December 2010

"Best Fest?"

...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.] - festgrrl - November 2009

"Jam is main flavor of Orlando's funkUs"

By Rick de Yampert
Entertainment Writer

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."

Hmmmm, OK.

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. - The Daytona Beach News-Journal - 8/11/05

"On Spotlight: funkUs"

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 for more information, sound bites, reviews, and more. A find like this is what local music is all about. - Backstage Pass Magazine - June 2005

"Sunshine Festival review"

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." - Jam 'Til Dawn Music - January 2005

"Bluesfest 2004 review"

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". - Orange Blossom Blues Society - November 2004

"funkUs w/ Tom Constanten of the Grateful Dead"

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!! - Jam 'Til Dawn Music - October 2004

"Article about Jambando featuring funkUs"

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 - Orlando Weekly - 3/18/04

"funkUs Interview"

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........... - Outer Shell - February 2004

"strobe light CD review"

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. - Connections Magazine - May 2003

"Same time, same place"

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 (, 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, funkUs has made Orlando part of the national jam-band consciousness, however cloudy it may be. - Orlando Weekly - 3/14/02

"flavour CD review"

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. - - January 2002


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



funkUs is one of Orlando's most prolific and enduring bands. Dubbed "flavor rock" and declared "a guilty pleasure" (Orlando Weekly), the "groove heavy precision" of "Orlando's highly regarded jam band" (Orlando Sentinel) has inspired audiences to move, groove and gather since 1998, earning such titles statewide as "Orlando jazz-groove staples" (Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.) Yet, with an often surprising blend of musical genres and "jam rock styles that recall Phish and The Allman Brothers" (Daytona Beach News-Journal), the band is also renown for tributes to Santana, Pink Floyd, The Doors, John Lennon, David Bowie and The Police, having "musically portrayed" these artists at various charity benefits and in a popular Jambando concert series as well as treating audiences to unique performance ideas, like organizing a CD release event with 17 bands releasing 17 CDs at the same time, playing a surprise 45-minute monkey-themed medley or hosting a continuous, 3-hour super jam featuring many of Orlando's finest musicians.

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've performed coast to coast throughout Florida at premier music venues and festivals including the Fringe Jambando at the Orlando Fringe Festival (2014-2018), Purple Hatter's Ball (2013), the Bear Creek Music Festival (2009, 2011), the Orange Blossom Jamboree (2010-2011, 2016), Jambando In The Park (2010-2012) and many others. funkUs is also one of the founding members of Jambando in Orlando, Florida and has shared stages with Galactic, Soulive, Dumpstaphunk, Robby Krieger's Jam Kitchen, Victor Wooten, Steve Kimock Band, Jeff Coffin and the Mu'tet, The Dead Kenny G's, The Soul Rebels Brass Band, The New Mastersounds, Roosevelt Collier and The Lee Boys, Zach Deputy, Consider the Source and more.

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."

At 20 years now, members of the band are some of the hardest working musicians in Orlando staying busy with various musical projects around town and have decided to reserve funkUs shows for festival appearances, special events and support for our favorite bands while focusing on material for the next CD with the band's most musically adventurous incarnation to date. Once completed, the funki will ride again with plans to bring the new funkUs Dance Party to grow on audiences all over the South... Dig it!!

Band Members