Johnny Utah And The Funk Bastards
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Johnny Utah And The Funk Bastards

Band Hip Hop Funk

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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Don't call Southwest Florida band Johnny Utah and The FB "rap-rock""

Inevitably, groovin' hot-funk groups get described in print with words such as "funk-a-licious" and "funktastic."

In the case of Tampa's Johnny Utah and The Funk Bastards, those terms barely convey all that this five-man frenzy packs into its spot-on sonic assault.

Three funk-rockers sporting finely honed skills back up what was the hardcore word-rhymin' duo Johnny Utah (named for Keanu Reeve's character in the 1991 surf/robbery flick "Point Break") to form a unique genre it calls "live band hip-hop."

But still, "that doesn't completely cover it," said emcee Mr. Mes (Chris Wood), one-half of JU (Joey "Scattabrain" Nuemonic, aka Joe Cande, is the other half).

"Just please, please don't call it rap-rock. That just has too many negative connotations."

His counterpart Conan (guitarist Conan Raitt), a Funk Bastard, concurs.

"Rap-rock is almost an insult to us; we feel it's more than that," Conan said. "Chris and Joe are serious hip-hop guys who happen to have a band backing them ... I feel rap-rock was essentially a lot of rock guys trying to take advantage of a trend in popular music.

"Hip-hop is always evolving, and we think this could be one of the next steps ... I will risk being contradictory by saying that for someone who hadn't heard us before, we are a cross between The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Roots and Rage Against the Machine."

Fellow FBs consist of new drummer Frankie Bianco, aka Frankie B., and bassist Jerry "J-RO" Dotson, who, together with original drummer Ron McMichael, met Wood and Cande through an ad on Tampahiphop.com.

"We were super impressed by the band, especially J-RO," Wood said. (Conan joined shortly after.) "I remember they were pretty impressed when Joe and I started rhyming about different objects in the room off the top of our heads."

"Jerry showed me ... (the song) 'Failure to Communicate,'" Raitt said. "The first time we ran through it, everything just clicked ... within about a week, we were on stage at the Masquerade," an Ybor City nightclub.

That was October 2004.

Since then, the group has indisputably expanded on JU's motto -- "Just don't be boring" -- playing Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee and Sarasota counties, and finding outlets on WMNF (88.5 FM) radio's "Hip Hop Flavors" program and Chicago Internet station FearlessRadio.com.

It also recorded the four-song "Dirty Demo," sold at concerts with a T-shirt and sticker for $10, and it's in Continued

it's in pre-production for a full-length release set for early 2006.

"Our most important short-term goal is to get the LP recorded," Raitt said. "We feel that once we capture the energy and sound of our live show on tape, things will open up for us more."

Raitt summed up with the band's noble philosophy.

"We have a saying in the band that we try and live by -- 'Write music that you are proud of, play the hell out of it, and bring people to the shows.' If we do those three things, everything else will pretty much take care of itself."

Johnny Utah and The Funk Bastards performs Saturday at Tavern on Main, 1528 Main St., Sarasota, with None The Less and Farewell to Finley. Doors open at 9:30 p.m.; admission is $4.

Today is its self-produced "Culture Clash, Vol. II," concert with Worldwide Zoo, Laws, Slider and None The Less at 9 p.m. at Ybor City's Orpheum, 1902 N. Avenida Republica De Cuba, Tampa. Admission is $5; $6 for ages 18 to 20. - BY DAWN E. SCIRE (Herald Tribune Sarasota,FL)


Discography

Dirty Demo (5 song demo)

WwW.JohnnyUandTheFunk.CoM

WwW.Myspace.Com/JohnnyUtahandTheFunk

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

A few years back the infamous Uncle Shredded Wheat introduced Mr. Mes to Joey “Scattabrain” Nuemonic. The two of them soon joined forces and formed the rap duo that would become Johnny Utah. They went on to become regulars on the Tampa Bay Hip Hop scene. The fans were dazzled, but Johnny Utah wanted to give the people even more.

Meanwhile two musicians in Pasco, and one in Seminole, recently transplanted all the way from Long Island, were forming a powerful rhythm section around the bass stylings of the mighty J-RO. Conan provided the crunch on guitar, and Frankie B surrounded them with a wicked drum defense. Each one of them had paid their dues, slugged it out in local rock clubs, and carved out a niche for themselves in bands like Green Theory, U4IC, and Tirade. Individually, they each had forged their own musical sensibilities, but were in search of the catalyst to bring it all together.

One night in the fall of 2004 the forces of Johnny Utah and “those three crazy guys from Pasco” met head on. The sparks flew and that night a new alliance was formed. They called it Johnny Utah and the Funk Bastards.

Within days they were on stage at the seminal Masquerade in Ybor City. Johnny Utah had tried “the rock” and were unable to turn back, The Funk Bastards had found their catalyst. Flying under the same flag synergized the energy of five individuals with one common goal. A new entity with a life of its own had been born. Johnny Utah and the Funk Bastards conquered the crowd that night, the first step in what Mr. Mes has called, “his plan of world domination”.

Johnny Utah is a contradiction of high art, old B-movies, old school hop hop, roots school funk, and crunch. They have drawn the lines between wannabe pop-stars and musicians, staking their claim with the latter.

The story continues…