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Band Hip Hop Funk


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"funkUs returns to Lakeland"

As their first song stated, they came down to bring the funk, and that's what they did... and did VERY well, (immediately proving that we weren't the best band to grace that stage, IMHO). They know how to have some fun with it all, too, so we were a perfect match. By the end of the night, both bands were psyched to do it all again, (which doesn't happen all the time, in case you were wondering.)
- Dave

"Bring In the Funk"

Published Thursday, September 28, 2006

Lakeland's Semi-Soul Harkens to 1970s Sound

By Bill Dean
The Ledger

Lakeland's growing, original music scene includes floor-pounding punk and metal bands, cranium-conducive acoustic pop groups, and alternative hybrids.

But it didn't include the vibe of down-anddirty, 1970s-style funk, until the nine-member Semi-Soul tapped its keg of dance-floor-throbbing sounds about two years ago.

Now, with only a few personnel changes (a merit badge in itself considering the group's number of members), Semi-Soul has out-drawn other bands at showcases at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando.

And it counts a growing local fan base that swells dance floors at such Lakeland venues as Lillian's and Winners Circle.

"It's a very common thing for a lot of local bands that people will keep a distance, like a good 10 feet away from the stage," says bassist Shayne Campbell. "We don't seem to have that problem."

That's because "playing the funk stuff" has been the group's main mission since Campbell and drummer Phillip Cannoy met while in a local punk band and decided to form their group, Semi-Soul. "At practice, in the down-time we had, we'd just jam and it was like `Wow,' " Cannoy says.

From there, the two joined forces with guitarist Charlie Wells and added other players over time to flesh out its "nasty, '70s funk" axis, as Cannoy calls it, with a sound that also adds soul, rock, reggae, jazz and hip-hop.

The band's current lineup includes trumpeter Walt Connoy (Phillip's brother), baritone player T.J. Alcock, lead guitarist Neil Wicker and singer Erica Ayala.

Most recently the group added percussionist Eneix Frankenburger and hip-hop/rap vocalist Mike Riordan. The members' ages range from 21 to 35, and they manage to hold down full or part-time jobs while finding time to rehearse, perform, and record the band's first CD, which is expected to be ready next year.

As a group, Semi-Soul counts such influences as Kool & The Gang, Parliament/ Funkadelic and Sly & The Family Stone.

As a musical co-op/conglomerate, however, each of the members salt-and-pepper the group's sound with individual musical influences, which include Jimi Hendrix (Wells), Maynard Ferguson (Walt Connoy) and Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald (Ayala), among many others.

The Lakeland band's approach might best be encapsulated by the song "Anthem," which embellishes its Kool & The Gang-meets-Parliament nucleus with hip-hop vocals and a bridge that samples "Vehicle," a 1970 hit song by rock/soul/brass mixers the Ides of March.

"We always had this sort of huge, hornsblazing, old Parliament-style funk thing going on," Wells says. "So I think the horns really set us apart from every other kind of funk-rock thing that's out there."

• Bill Dean can be reached at or 802-7527. - Bill Dean/ The Lakeland Ledger

"Anti*Pop Music fest day 2"

Anti-Pop Music Fest: Day 2
By Alicia Lyman
Orlando CityBeat
Published November 15, 2006

SEMI SOUL: The beautiful thing about the Anti-Pop Music Festival is it embraces and represents the underground current of musicians and genuine talent that should take over the mainstream and deserves the most recognition within the music industry.

Therefore my Tuesday night got started at AKA Lounge to witness Lakeland's own Semi Soul. Who would've known that such funkalicious tunes were being created in our own backyard?

Semi Soul was fronted by, Erica, a cute lil' thang with a set of sassy yet luxurious set of pipes that were truly goosebump-inducing. She was backed up by eight other incredible guys who created a sound thick with groove (reminiscent of, yes, Funkadelic and Parliament). They'd simmer into a down-tempo jazz groove, only to have the drummer and percussionist sizzle it back up to a rapid-fire tribal beat and then mellow out on a reggae, ska-like feel similar to that of the Skatalites. They added a dash of rhymin' lyrical flow here and there, and unlike most mainstream bands who regurgitate certain past popular genres, this band utilized various inspirations from the past and fused them into a fresh new flavorful genre that was completely gourmet.
- Orlando City Beat

"Semi-Soul at Kitty O'sheas"

Friday April, 28th, 2006

Semi-Soul rocked the night away as they played a pleasing fusion of Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop, Reggae and Jazz, with a few drops of Rock for flavor... a combination best summed up as Funk-Core or Organic Hip-Hop.

A cool group, who's not afraid to meet outside and talk to their fans, played a hot session at Kitty O'Sheas last night. Even though the stage was shared with funkus, a well known name at Kitty O'Sheas, Semi-Soul set the mood for the rest of the night.

Semi-Soul's newest member Erica definetly knows how to handle a challenge as she took control of the stage and made it known that she takes no enemies.

- Big Dave

"review of Jambando performance at Hard Rock Live in Orlando"

I was there. I needed to go because 1) I wanted to check out Semi-Soul as I had heard good things but never heard them, 2) see funkUs cause it had been a year since I saw them last, 3) study the keyboard player from Middle Rhythm Session, and 4) bid a fond farewell to the fine lads in Big Meat.
Erica Ayala from Semi-Soul. The newest member of that 8 piece soul/rap/funk band.

She was a highlight for me. I had to wonder.... when's the last time I saw a female on stage at a Jambando? The answer doesn't matter - the point is that it's not often enough. This was my first time seeing SemiSoul and even though there are a few things about the band that don't fit with my personal tastes in music, I'm very much looking forward to seeing them again.

Admitted bias: I'm not a fan of rap in almost any form. And a "rapper" has to do something indescribable... something to separate him or herself from the million other guys who can hold a microphone and speak. To my ear, this rapper was no different than a thousand others I've heard rap. HOWEVER, it may be that his words are so poignant that there is a dimension to the performance I could not appreciate... after all, we know how muddy the sound can be in the HRL. I just found the rap to be a distraction from the music. What I did enjoy, though it was not accentuated on more than one song, was the interaction btw female and male vocalist. There was a little rehearsed drama btw the two to coincide with the rap and that reminded me of the antics and the sort of banter that would happen between Digable Planets' Ladybug and Doddlebug or even Jay-Z and Amil. Bottom line, if you're NOT like me and you DO enjoy someone rappin over some funky beats - you need to go see Semi-Soul.

Maybe it was an entire season of watching American Idol but I couldn't help but be hypercritical of the vocals from Erica Ayala. When she was on, she had a sweet, sultry and powerful voice. Then there were moments when I felt like she didn't quite have the pipes to reach for what she was reaching for. Overall, I enjoyed her performance though. Looks like she's the newest member of the band so hopefully she's still exploring and making these tunes her own and trying to find her comfort zone. There were several times when I felt like she was hangin on the same note but the band had moved on. Bottom line here: I'm looking forward to a second listen in a big way.

The horn section in SemiSoul consists of a trumpet and what I think is called a "baritone." At first, Ithought it was a flugelhorn. But one listen and you know that's not a flugelhorn.... not as smooth and sweet. (A trumpet is the highest pitched of the brass instruments. A baritone is a notch below it.) Again, a sound issue... I was standing in my favorite place... about 10 feet in front of the soundboard - in theory, approximately where the music should be about the best mix - and it was very hard to make out the brass. A good soundman could've punched them up where necessary but... it's the HRL.

The two guitars.... worked well together. I heard both of em gettin there licks in. But with 8 people standing on stage, it's tough to stand out.

The surprise moment for me was the drummer. First, I thought he was a very tight funk drummer and had a few moves that were not familiar to me - and I LIKE WHEN THAT HAPPENS! But the real treat was discovering what a great voice he had. When his bass-pedal broke, he was forced to come out and sing a song while repairs were made. He covered some Bob Marley and I was amazed at how well he did it.

The bass player - that dude is the band. As with any good bass player, if your ass is shakin, you know who to look to. He was definitely keepin it solid and funky.

45 minutes is not long enough to get to know a band. I need to go see an entire show from Semi-Soul so as to get a better feel for what it is they do. And that may be the best thing about them... They left me wanting to hear more.
- funknjam promotions

"Review of Jambando performance on"

This Jambando Show was definitely the most successful if not best attended Hard Rock show I've been to. Jambando is a loose collection of Jam Bands in the Orlando, FL area. Before you get an image of sage and prarie skirts set aside your expectations and read on.

Looking out my window I was sure the Curse of Jambando was upon us. It seems when there's an event - Mother Nature likes to have a hurricane or at least a wild Florida down pour. The rain let up an hour before show time so the curse must be lifted.

1st thought - Holy Crap! A music event that starts on time! Surely the band changes will mess that up. This Jambando was so well run all bands went on as scheduled - a feat most local music shows can't boast. 2nd thought - Did all these people really come out and show up on time? When the 1st band went on there were roughly 250 in attendance (Count is unofficial and done by drunken reviewer). Most were front and center. No band that night had to beg anyone to come forward - another feat most local acts can't boast of.

This was an all ages show that lived up to its name. Kids as young as 10, their grandparents, and every age in between. The former 2 sat in the chairs arranged in the rear General Admission area which doubled as sleepers by midnight.

Semi-Soul opened with the 1-2 punch of MC Ray Bennett & vocalist Erica Ayala. In addition to her awesome vocals - she can rock a skirt like no one's business. Half-naked trumpet player aside, the highlight of their set was a rendition of "No Woman, No Cry" sung by drummer Phillip Cannoy along with funkUS front man Ron Betts. Only 30 minutes into Jambando and I had heard Rap, Jazz, Reggae, & Funk. If I had expectations when I walked in - they were gone now.



3 song EP
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We're not gangsters. We're not rock stars. We're not Berklee trained virtuosos. We're not the flawless faces looking down at you from this month's Teenbeat magazine. We're Semisoul.
We won't blur the lines between pop star, model, entreprenuer, starlet, or criminal.
We will make you move. Painters in the art of possibility, Semisoul's music and the message it contains, defies what's typical, predictable or imaginable. Fusing together larger than life instrumentation with truly soulful vocals and powerful and energetic lyrics, an innovation of sound has occurred that is both inspiring and refreshing. Funk music is redefined and transformed alongside hip-hop in a manor that speaks to the heart and soul of all ages, races and backgrounds.
Taking their name from a story of soldiers who segregated themselves during the Vietnam War, Semi-Soul seeks to bring people together & make them move. With a lineup that is nine strong, Semi-Soul has been burning up the Central Florida music scene since their inception in 2005. With bass driven rhythms, guitar grinding grooves and bombastic brass, not content to represent just one style of lyrical delivery, the band offers the up front emcee Marley "The Messenger" Montano, as well as the smooth, sultry appeal of Ms. Erica Ayala. With a sound that combines the forces of funk, hip-hop, reggae, jazz, soul and rock, Semi-Soul can only be catagorized as unique. Semi-Soul has played along side national acts, at prestigious venues and even headlined Jambando at The Hard Rock Live in Orlando leaving a crowd of 800 begging for more.
We will make you move. We'll blatantly forcefeed our own brand of funk and hip hop to anyone in our vicinity. We write songs to keep you out of your seats and on the floor. We aren't happy unless all eyes are on us, and when we're done we want you confused. We want you to ask yourself "what the hell was that?" After you've pondered for a while we want you to want more. And we usually get what we want. We're Semisoul.