The Clubs
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The Clubs

Brooklyn, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Jazz Funk




"The Clubs “The Clubs”"

Posted on December 9, 2010

Analog recording is a lost, if not a dead art. In a digital age, even vinyl pressings aren’t necessarily created in analog fashion from start to finish. The Clubs however, are attempting to bring it back while also bringing their brand of funk, soul, and R&B to today’s music scene. Founded in 2008, The Clubs primarily consist of vocalist/songwriter/keyboardist Ian Kirkman, bassist Yvans Jean-Michel, drummer David Varriale and saxophonist Ben Golder-Novick. At its core, the band’s set-up draws a lot of influence from jazz outfits and sure enough, jazz elements are present through much of their self-titled debut album.

The Clubs is, far and away, an astoundingly good album because of its consistency on several levels. The performances by the band members are tight from beginning to end. Trying to pick out a defining moment for any of the band members is a task in itself because of how consistently well performed each song is. The structure of the songs is exemplary as well with variation being brought in by performances from other musicians such as Tim Beattie and Heather Hardy whose harmonica and electric violin playing on “Heartbreak” and “Down n Out” respectfully are riveting. Performances like this are scattered about the album in such a fashion that the sound never grows stale.

The pacing of this eponymous debut is another strong point. Most of the songs are mid tempo or slightly quicker, but sizzle with a driving energy that makes the songs fly. Much of this can be attributed to Jean-Michel, whose bass playing is nothing short of exceptional. The blurring of the genre lines between jazz, funk, R&B, etc. is largely thanks to his playing, which simultaneously incorporates elements of those various styles into a rhythm that is as groovy as it is funky. The other part of this equation is saxophonist Golder-Novick who adds a great deal of excitement in his soloing and ability to take a song beyond its original melody and make it something more.

The staple holding it all together is Kirkman’s smooth voice and atmospheric keyboards and organ playing. The keyboards are very seldom the center of any of the songs; take “American Brat” for example. The song is built around bass and saxophone, but as the song enters into its later half you can hear the keyboard flourishes backing the melody and establishing a fuller effect. Kirkman’s voice doesn’t express much of a range but it doesn’t have to either; the music itself is intensely soulful and Kirkman sings it only as much as he has to, helping to keep the groove.

As for individual songs, standouts are hard to come by with everything being so consistent. “And Ya Know” is notable as an unrelenting six and a half minute groove-fest with more saxophone work than an Average White Band piece. The Clubs also throw in a cover of the Otis Redding piece “I’m Sick Yall”. Guitarist Pete Pidgeon’s lead guitar lines add a bluesy element to the song that does credit to Redding’s original while adding in the sense of funk and groove The Clubs are great at capturing.

“Blue Janet” takes these blues elements and expounds upon them creating a track that’s truly unique, driven by excellent lap steel lines and pulsing keyboards. The vinyl edition of The Clubs self-titled album ends here, but the downloadable version continues with two bonus tracks, “By My Side” and “Go Braugh (On The Waters Edge).” If there’s any problem with these songs its that they’re too good to be omitted from the vinyl edition. The latter of the two bonuses converses between the harmonica and saxophone while Varriale’s drums snap their way through the fills.

The Clubs manage to combine some old school sensibility and recording techniques with a refreshing take on the genre by combining elements of Funk, R&B, Jazz and Soul. The sound on this self-titled album is reason enough for music enthusiasts to cherish it, but the music itself is full of substance and originality as well. The first track, “Got Ta Work,” says everything about the album in general: funky, lyrically down to Earth, impeccably performed, and exciting to listen to. This is a virtually flawless album and perhaps the best thing to happen to vinyl in a very long time.

Review by Heath Andrews
Review Score: 5 stars (out of 5)
- Ariel Publicity

"The Clubs"

The Clubs “The Clubs”
November 18, 2010

Since forming in 2008, The Clubs have been making themselves known as a finely tuned funk and soul band. Under the leadership of vocalist/organist Ian Kirkman, they have performed on various stages throughout New York City, bringing those lessons into the studio for their self-titled debut album. The fact that they recorded this album exclusively on analog gear is a testament to their efforts to stay true to the soul. While the end result isn’t necessarily a time capsule snapshot from 1967, there is something about the warmth of analog recording that adds a richness and authenticity to their album. The sessions sound a bit raw, not in terms of an unpolished performance, but in the sonic grit and attitude captured to tape.

For anyone that missed out on their Live At The Bitter End E.P., a cut like “And Ya Know” provides enough proof that The Clubs must be experienced live. It’s the toughest groove on the album, a fast-paced extended workout that allows the band to riff against the rhythmic ground floor laid by drummer David Varriale and bassist Yvans Jean-Michel. The horn arrangements from saxophonist Ben Golder-Novick and Kirkman are both intricate and precise, summoning staccato bursts of energy that demand wallflowers to dance. Even on a cut this fierce, Kirkman’s vocals (which can resemble a lighter shade of Joe Cocker at times) hang back in the cut, sweetly commanding attention when necessary while content to let the band get loose.

Such an understated lyrical style pays off on songs like “She Speaks So,” particularly while crooning the final verse. “Behind the words I don’t understand / She loves me for the man that she thinks I am / But behind the words that she says to me / She loves me for the man that I used to be.” Kirkman absolutely shines on the lead single, the super groove ride that is “Oohweee.” As a two-chord change swings back and forth like a pendulum, his vocals range from quiet coos to the occasional raspy utterance. It feels like the entire band is swaying in sync on this one, from Varriale’s locked drum pattern to Raul Gonzalez’s chicken scratch guitar to the horn section’s cherry-on-top accents.

Only one of the album’s songs is not an Ian Kirkman composition, Otis Redding’s “I’m Sick Y’all.” The Clubs do Otis proud with their rendition, turning in a tight performance that’s given that extra analog touch on this recording. The cover comes closest to sounding like it could have been captured decades ago. Something about that session must have spilled over into the next song because “Heartbreak” is rough and rugged straight out the gate. The opening grunts along with Tim Beattie’s melancholy harmonica set the tone and Kirkman’s able to tap into that vibe and find the sadness. One of the CD bonus tracks, “Go Bragh (On The Water’s Edge),” closes the album with another tough groove and a play on the Irish phrase ”Erin Go Bragh,” which means “Ireland forever.”

Whereas last year’s live E.P. showed what The Clubs can do in front of a crowd, their debut album affirms that they can transfer that same energy into the studio. It’s an audio document of a good band working its way towards greatness. Perhaps future endeavors will lead them to work with other labels (think of the potential of The Clubs furthering their funk and soul reputation through Brooklyn-based imprints like Truth And Soul or Daptone Records). Hopefully, the new album will attract a growing fan base outside of New York City, for this ensemble certainly has worldwide appeal. The Clubs can consider this album’s release a home run for the band, but the grand slam is yet to come.

Review by Jason Randall Smith
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
- Ariel Publicity

"keep it coming"

"Its no wonder you are delighting audiences in New York and anywhere else for that matter..'Oohweee' a real neat slick and polished piece of work...Everything about you guys oozes class and we love all you bring to music..Hats off to y'all" - Motown Passion

"New turn for old funk"

Funk scene newcomers, The Clubs, have released a true powerhouse of an album that fits nicely into the burgeoning soul movement that has returned to popularity in the last 10 years. A noticeable departure from their previously released EP, bandleader Ian Kirkman and only remaining original member has upgraded his entire lineup and moved the sound of The Clubs in a decidedly R&B direction. The new album is punctuated with intoxicating horn lines led by Musical Director Ben Golder-Novick. Golder-Novick showcases his indelible skills on almost every track turning the release into a Horn driven epic. From the opening “Got ta Work”, (at 3 minutes the shortest track on the album) The Clubs take you on a groove inspired journey making few detours. One of the only pitfalls on the album is feeling that there is a not a real change of pace but there are a couple of notable reprieves. The 5th track, “She Speaks So” has a noticeably darker feel. Kirkman’s searching lyrics are melded with singer Renee Ternier’s incredible sultry meanderings in Creole and French. It’s a perfect lead in to the R&B gem, “Oohweee (Super Groove Ride).” The way records are made today, it probably should have been the 1st track on the album, but there is something very old-school and attractive about having a climax of sound in the middle of the album. The entire song is a two chord vamp that manages to flow for 5 ½ minutes, but you’ll want to play it again and again as I did. After a great gritty cover of the obscure Otis Redding tune, “I’m Sick Y’all”, The Clubs explore some more bluesy territory with guest lap steel and harmonica virtuoso Tim Beattie seemingly taking over the album for 2 Nashville inspired tracks. What really rings true for both of these tracks, “Heartbreak” and “Blue Janet” is the hooks. In fact, if Kirkman has a signature calling card in his lyrical style, it’s his ability to write vocal choruses that are simple yet addictive. The Clubs by The Clubs is nothing short of a breath of fresh air.

- M. Sacks - The Daily Grind

"Analog Dream - The search for the perfect sound"

Limited edition LP releases are all the rage at the moment and we hope the trend continues. More and more main stream artists are putting they’re sounds to wax and reviving a medium that was all but written off 10 years ago. Instead vinyl production facilities are seeing some of the biggest orders and the greatest daily volume in 20-30 years. This newly re-found love of the vinyl has lots of implications for the small acts as well as large and it’s quite fascinating to see how the market reacts to this sound revolution.
The biggest challenge in production is to stay authentic to the analog medium, while most music printed to vinyl today has utilized modern recording techniques like Avid’s Protools, there are still a few purists out there who strive to keep an entirely analog process.
A great example of this return to simplicity or one could argue a return to complexity is the new Funk/Soul group from New York City, The Clubs. The group’s incredible soul filled funk and blues sound could be the story today, but instead we focusing on the unique way that they recorded their debut self titled album. I spoke with the bandleader Ian Kirkman about why he chose to go the Analog route:
“We had a lot of choices when we were going into the studio earlier this year, but we got hooked up with this incredible engineer and producer TJ Swan and he really convinced me to come record at his vintage analog studio in Midtown.”
The Clubs picked the boutique Velvet Swan Studios as a way to separate from the pack but also because Kirkman got the analog bug. “There was a ton of choices out there to record in Protools, including my own home studio, but we wanted a different path, one which emphasizes performance based music with no cutting and pasting and very little punching in. Sure we did overdubbing on the album but almost every instrument is played through the entire song without editing. It was really a fantastic process that made us really prepare thoroughly and consequently we felt much more satisfied with the finished product.”
I asked Kirkman about the mixing process and how it differed from projects he’s worked on in the past:
“I've tinkered in analog before but never anything on this level. I really recorded all my previous projects in protools or before that on ADATs. But before I even say anything about mixing with Swany, let me just say that everything in this studio is vintage analog gear, we recorded using mostly the sweetest Telefunken tube and solid state pre’s, and TJ’s collection of incredible Microphones and amps meant that we were able to get some really amazing sounds. The studio features an Amek Angela console from the eighties designed by Rupert Neve. We mixed down using no automation, to a ¼” Telefunken Magnetophon 15A which really blew my mind. The sound of that ¼” machine is better than any ½” I’ve ever heard. But moreover, the mixing process also becomes a performance, without automation, if you f*ck up, you gotta do the whole thing over again. It definitely led to some tense moments(laughing).”

But the process was not over when the mix was done. “When we got our masters we had some choices to make and I wanted to keep the creation of this album as local as possible so we chose Mastering Engineer Joe Lambert and Master Lathe Engineer Carl Rowatti to Master and cut the lacquers for the LP. Most bands I feel really mess this step up, they make this whole analog album and then when it’s time to master they have an engineer dump the music into a 24bit mastering program before cutting the lacquers. We decided to do it old school and that’s where Carl Rowatti comes in. He is as well as being a world renowned Mastering Engineer but he also one of the few people in the world who knows how to master on the fly while cutting a lacquer. He uses a special Studer A80 with a preview head to accomplish this, which lets you hear the tape seconds before the music hits the play head. Its old school, but its awesome! We chose to just do 9 songs as to have the highest quality recording we could get on vinyl. You see the shorter the music, the deeper and wider grooves you can make in the vinyl and the higher quality sound you can get.”
Kirkman went on to explain the rest of the process in detail, he obviously did his homework. “Lacquers done, were then sent to Mastercraft out in Jersey. This is where the Mother and plates are made. The mother is what it sounds like. Think about it like this, the lacquers are like Adam and Eve and from them you get the Mother. While the lacquers get thrown away, the Mother lasts almost forever and lets you make infinite plates from it. The plates are what’s used to stamp the records. Mastercraft then makes plates or negatives from the mother and we had them sent to our presser, Brooklyn Phono. There they take the plates and can make up to 3 or 4 thousand (vinyl records) off one set of plates.”
The process may seem a bit daunting but Kirkman a - Record Now!

"Brazil Beat"

"...superb sound..." - Fernando Caneca

"Brazil Beat"

"...superb sound..." - Fernando Caneca

"The Clubs"

"...feeling the cuts & vocals..." - Moshae Music

"New Music"

"...sweet soulful lyrics..." - Bearsville Theatre Woodstock NY - Woodstock Times

"Funk on The Floor is a Non-stop Dance Classic"

By Drew Storen

From the the opening horn lines your ear will turn with the funk filled original masterpiece Funk of the Floor that builds nicely on The Clubs debut release. Ian Kirkman's original tunes have the grit of New York and the Northern funk that is introspective, retrospective, undeniably groovy and lyrically diverse. FOTF opens with Got ta Get ta Brooklyn and it's definitely the de-facto single if there was one, it is an ode to Brooklyn, a foot tapping, groove filled party that is one part Brooklyn homage and 9 parts funky explosion. There's even an animated video that accompanies this instant classic. Track 2 is the title track Dream or Memory/Funk on the Floor which is really 2 songs in one. Dream or Memory a hard driving recap of a late night that might be real or just a memory, it transitions into Funk on the Floor which is features Kirkman’s rap/sing style and the electric violin of guest Heather Hardy. The follow up is the deeply resounding Beautiful Beast. The song is minor key vamp about America, its pitfalls and its musical greatness, anchored in Motown and Black music, The Chorus, American is a beautiful Beast and you don’t even know the least. The 2nd verse starts, “We are the land of the free and the land of the incarcerated, we are the land of the loved and the land of the hated.” Beautiful Beast also has 2 wonderful solos from the tenor master Ben Golder-Novick who is responsible for much of the horn arrangements on FOTF. Track 4 is the one cover on the album and its Sly and the Family Stone’s “If you want me to stay” and its has enough of the original to sing along to and is enough different to feel signature and worth it. The fifth song, Everything is Gonna Be ok, is the feel good song on the album, has shades of Americana and a wonderful refrain that will definitely get stuck in your head.
Dear Melissae is track 6 and is another minor tune that has a wonderful melodic turn in the chorus, Brilliant organ work by Stu Waters.
Track 7, Trifilin Women, is the cool syncopated vibe that brings the back half the album around to the climax. Laid back vox, incredible bg vox from Rhonda Delet and Kiki Hawkins and another killer tenor solo from Ben Golder Novick.
FOTF closes with Good Lovers, a song Kirkman reworked in the studio with the band and is the perfect end to an album that is pure fun from start to finish.
The Clubs interesting and diverse sound won’t be denied on Funk on the Floor, at only 8 tracks they will definitely have fans wanting more. - Real Beats


Funk on The Floor 2017
Vinyl - Digital - CD

The Clubs 2010
Vinyl - Digital - CD

Oohweee (Super Groove Ride) 2010 - (Single)

Live at The Bitter End (EP) 2009 -
CD and Digital Download




Singer, Ian Kirkman founded The Clubs and they have grown into one of NYC's most solid and longest running Funk/Jazz acts. The Clubs have the signature Brooklyn sound. Their unique vibe showcases the influences of Soul, Funk, Jazz with a keen songwriting flair not seen in any of their contemporaries. They have drawn comparisons to modern stars like Jamiroquoi, Beck and Spearhead. Ian Kirkman's sweet lyrical style has traces of Al Jarreau and Bill Withers . Bassist Adam Neely youtube and instagram star of Bass and music education holds it down with a deep understanding of rhythm, harmony and groove. Drumming phenom Josh Bailey has toured the US and Europe working with a multitude of projects, but has finally found a home framing the intense rhythm section of The Clubs. Alto Sax and Flutist Evan Frances is an alum of the Michael Buble orchestra and countless New York Jazz and salsa ensembles was recently awarded one Downbeat magazines up and coming flutists. Andrew Miramonti, scorches intricate melodies with always tight grooves is The Clubs seasoned guitar player and multi-instrumentalist. Kevin Moehringer, the hardest working trombone player in NYC and who's huge sound is front and center in The Clubs plays homage to the great bone players of funk including Fred Wesley and Wyclef Gordon.  Their sound does not stop there vocalist Ki ki Hawkins a Julliard protege and vocal powerhouse brings this project into the forefront of funk and dance music today.

The new album, FUNK ON THE FLOOR dropped October 15th!

Reach The Clubs at:

917-663-5444 for booking

Band Members