Tightn' Up!
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Tightn' Up!

Houston, TX | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Houston, TX | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band R&B Funk




"Tightn' Up! Prove That Funk Isn't Dead"

It feels like forever ago when Craig of Heights Vinyl invited me to watch a band called Tightn' Up! practice at his shop back when it was on White Oak in the Heights. I remembered him saying, "they're a crazy funk band," making me wonder how crazy they really were. I always wondered why anyone would start a funk band in a world where acts like Funkadelic & Curtis Mayfield existed. That's such a high bar to attempt to even get close to, though I can tell you that Houston's Tightn' Up! have definitely stepped up what you might think of funk music, and their latest album And Now We Can Begin not only touches on the funk of the past, but raises the bar by adding soul and occasional Afrobeat structures. In ten tracks the Houston group not only meets the standards of funk's past, they break past it and breathe new life into it at the same time.

Opening with the heavy percussive notes of "Sellout," the band quickly makes their presence known. Funky guitar that doesn't clutter up the syrupy bass line, drums that snap and pop, and vocals that lie right above all of the notes that the band make together create a sound that's hard not to deny. There's a deep heft to how solid the sounds this band makes together are, where it feels like the stones return to the genre in a way that you feel deep in your stomach. This continues on the track, "On the Line," where the band adds that Curtis Mayfield sounding guitar grit while singer Ashlei Mayadia adds more attitude than that of the typical suburban white boys that have cluttered funk music over the last decade ever could.

By the third song, "Goosebumps," you should realize that this band isn't slowing down, because they can't. When you make music that's so soulful and funky, the type that sticks to your ribs, you can't help but ooze the emotion and acumen it takes to make such deep sounds. Mixing R&B with funk infused guitar that creates a soulful and spacey sound, the drums never get to out of line, showcasing a restraint you don't hear much anymore from drummers who could easily tear it up. They keep that up on "Love Is Here," where the notes that come off of the instruments sound like something from another planet, complete with a groove that reminds you of the past without sounding like it was lifted in the process. There's nothing fraudulent here, as Tightn' Up! aren't the typical weekend warriors that the genre has attracted, and they make you feel each note.

After the groovy and impressive instrumental "Stank N' Sticky" that easily lives up to its name, the five piece moves on two tracks later with the slower paced sounds of "D.N.O.M.R." The song is a slow burn, creating a gritty and spacey sound that reminds you of the early days of Funkadelic in how it grooves along. The percussion sounds almost tribal, the bass sounds like it might walk away, and the guitar crafts a minimalist sound that never loses your attention. Two tracks later they offer another groove infused song with "Janglefonk," where the build is as solid as the payoff. The advantage to playing music you feel is that your emotion and chops translate to whoever hears it, and the song definitely holds plenty of emotion. The backing vocals alone are ballsy and steer far from the blue-eyed and watered down versions of soul and funk that have almost ruined funk music. There's a thing that happens between the music that the band is making and the vocals that never sound like a put on, they never sound safe, and they never sound compromised. There's a magical brew that this band cooks up together, that you can't help but groove to, even if you weren't trying to.

There's no mistaking that Tightn' Up! is the strongest example of what funk can be in today's music world. By keeping it real, by never compromising, and by staying true, the band proves real quick that they're the torch bearers of the funk music flame. You can stream And Now We Can Begin in all of the usual places, or you can order it directly from the band's website. You can catch Tightn' Up! bring their funky sounds to all when they perform a rare acoustic set as part of the Canned Acoustica series at Discovery Green on June 10. The all ages show will also feature performances from Only Beast, Vodi, The Suspects and The Tontons. Music at 5:30 p.m.; Free. - David Garrick - Houston Press

"Tightn' Up! Leading a Tasty Houston Funk Revival"

Would you like to feel free? You wanna feel connected? Would you thrill to having an "eargasm?" These are all sensations the members of Tightn' Up! hope you'll experience on a single listen of their debut album, sensations you could even seek right now. The Houston funk and soul band's first album, appropriately titled And Now We Can Begin, is out today on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal and other major platforms. They'll celebrate the occasion by playing the album in its 10-song entirety at tonight's free release party at Notsuoh.

The band is a Dr. Funkenstein's monster, pieced together with some talented parts and then set loose upon our humble burg to get the villagers moving. Vocalist Ashlei Mayadia explains.

"We were brought together through the actions of Craig Brown and Steve Forse, and they, along with our drummer Mike Hatter, selected musicians they knew and thought would fit well together to meet," she says. "The initial purpose was for Craig to have a live band to perform on Record Store Day at his Heights Vinyl record store. We met on the last Sunday night in March 2014 and played our first show 14 days later."

Mayadia is joined by Hatter on drums, bassist Urica Fernandez, percussionist Lou Boldrighini and guitarist Brandon Miles. Each is a veteran or studio musician, and their union had the intention of furthering "Houston funk," which is currently surging.

"There is a bit of a scene around us," explains Miles, "and we are the gritty side of a larger part of a Houston scene that includes Soul Creatures, Heights Funk Collective, Journey Agents, Bayou City Funk, The C.I.T.Y., a bit of R&B and soul singers..."

"Our sound is built upon the sounds of old," Fernandez jumps in. "I pull a lot from Bootsie, Jaco, Parliament, I pull a lot from those early funkateers, their sound was just in the pocket. It was bold, on point and driving, and that's what tends to drive our music. So, but yet, still melodic, in the sense of creating melody with it. Together, with sounds Brandon comes out on the guitar — he's coming with Stevie Ray Vaughan to Eddie [Van Halen] to Isley Brothers. Hatter's sound comes from rock to country to soul to gospel, and Lou he just got worldwide skills, you know, African rhythms, Latin rhythms, Bossa..."

"Gumbo!" Boldrighini adds, "Houston gumbo."

"There's a definitive grittiness with us that's like our predecessors, like The Crusaders and Archie Bell and now, you look, it's like seven, eight funk bands doing it and what makes it Houston is it's just dirty," Miles said.

"We the Dirty South, baby," Mayadia says, concluding further discussion of the band's sound.

The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Steven Finley at Digital Warehaus, located inside Sterrett Street Studio. The band self-produced the record and started recording last July. Until tonight's album release, the best (and only) way to hear what Tightn' Up! does was by catching a live show, which is still highly encouraged. This band has the sort of pedigree that allows it to play a song like Billy Preston's "Outta Space" with revered precision, then spin the Runaways' "Cherry Bomb" into a funky grinder. There are no covers on the new album, save a snippet of a classic. We won't spoil that surprise for listeners, but did ask the band about some of the music that influenced it. Each member took a turn:

Hatter: "That Rick James album, Street Songs, because Rick James embodies himself into funk culture relentlessly and unapologetic. He's kind of belligerent but he's well-versed in music. With that being said, I think you have to take him and understand both his expression musically and personally and that helps you start to understand what the funk culture is about- not trying to fit into a box, be your own renegade source and I appreciate him for that."

Miles: I say Sly Stone, Fresh, 'cause it's just a freak-a-thon, a front to back freak-a-thon. I have like six copies of that album, that's the one I keep replacing, 'cause I keep wearing it out."

Boldrighini: "Earth, Wind and Fire — all of them, you name it."

Fernandez: "Mine would have to be Bootsy Collins, any album. Only because being a bass player, his sound — when I talk about being free, freedom to just do whatever, however, whenever and to make good music that just gets down in your soul. I'd rather be with you..."

Mayadia: "Ya'll know I love Prince, and I'd say anything by him because his versatility infused soul and funk and jazz and punk and hip-hop and improv. He was my introduction to this freedom of creation and existence, masculine and feminine energy, God and sex. I fell in love with his music when I was three, dancing in the middle of my mom's friend's living room and asking her to play his records. He put soul and funk in everything he did. Definitely listen to The Rainbow Children album."

If that doesn't spark you into trekking down to Notsuoh for tonight's show, maybe Tightn' Up! can convince you with a few final thoughts. Fernandez says, "Come to our release party and be ready to a have a good time. Share in our..."

"Our oo-wee-ness!" Mayadia chimes in.

"Come to our players ball," urges Miles.

"Share in our magical, soul-filled ,original funk," Boldrighini adds. "Come funk with us."

Tightn' Up! celebrate their release party for And Now We Can Begin, 9 p.m. tonight at Notsuoh, 314 Main. Free. - Jesse Sendejas Jr. - Houston Press

"Five Things Not to Miss at East End Street Fest"

Bassist Urica Fernandez’s keep-it-movin’ beat was buoyed by more drums than an ear doctor sees in a day. - Jesse Sendejas, Jr. - The Houston Press


First time catching this act - Book 'em.....
Great energy, dynamics, pop & sizzle... - ‎Andy Eng‎

"Spring Fling Festival"

Their brand of music is technical and progressive, and it has all the elements you need for a booty bouncing funk show. But it also has an element that few other bands can achieve, a smooth, sensual feel guaranteed to get you moving. - Last Concert Cafe

"Yes, Indeed! 2015 Tightens Up and Eclectic, Exuberant Festival"

Inside the Continental Club, Tightn’ Up wanted an answer to its running question, “Just what are the ramifications of shaking one’s ass?” They pressed for a response with Billy Preston’s “Outa-Space,” one of the funkiest jams ever recorded. Vocalist Ashlei Mayadia came onstage and delivered some sanctified soul singing, the kind that makes listeners instant fans, especially in this city and at a time when Houston soul is being rejuvenated. What are the ramifications of shaking one’s ass? We’ll wanna shake it more. If you can catch Tightn’ Up, do it and — spoiler alert — get prepared to be floored by the sexiest version of The Runaways “Cherry Bomb” you’re likely to hear. - Jesse Sendejas Jr. - Houston Press


Continental Club will have the New soul funk act, Tightn’ Up on hand. I’ve seen them perform several times now, and I’m telling you that you’re gonna’ want to catch them live. - Free Press Houston

"Yes, Indeed! 2015 Rundown, Pt. 2: Tightn’ Up + Son of Bitch + Bang Bangz + The Wandering Bufaleros + The Clicky Boots + Carpet and the Drapes + Carmeci + Guilla + Sik Mule + Second Lovers + Brown Sabbath"

[cut] Tightn’ Up
First out of the gate today is a band I’ve heard of and been intrigued by for a little while now but which I haven’t yet been able to see. Tightn’ Up take their name from the ’60s Archie Bell hit, and from the little bit I’ve been able to hear, they’re doing their best to push the H-town funk/soul tradition forwards. There’s been a little mini-Renaissance of similarly-minded bands happening the last couple of years around here, with folks like Electric Attitude, The Suffers, and The Beans (to name only a couple that pop to mind immediately), and it’s very, very cool to be able to add another to the list. - Jeremy Hart - Space City Rock


Goosebumps - single
And Now We Can Begin - debut album



The Tightn' Up! story begins one Sunday night in the year 2014, in Craig T. Brown's Heights Vinyl Record Store. Tightn' Up! was born of his observation of the many funky, stellar, andlike minded musicians in Houston, Texas, most of whom were seemingly unaware of eachother. As his Heights shop became an unofficial central hub of casual live collaborations andformal performances, Craig was able to discern a funky sound that was uniquely Houston, and begin to assemble and curate players for a myriad of projects. Tightn' Up! would be named after a once-ubiquitous 1968 Billboard Hot 100 Number #1 hit of yore, written by Houston’s own Archie Bell & The Drells. The name was not chosen to reflect association, but simply as a tip of the hat to the ethos of uniquely Houston soul and funk throughout the decades.

That fate-filled night resulted in a roomful of chop-heavy eccentrics from the funkier corners of the scene. Heavy rhythms and big noises would ensue, resulting in a funky psychedelic five-piece-rhythm-section steam-train.

Ashlei Mayadia, a self-appointed disciple of the Purple One, fronts the group. A clear lifetime veteran of vocal performance and commander of stages, Mayadia has the moves and flies the freaky spirit flag for all to follow.

Bassist Urica Fernandez is an accomplished bassist of over 20 years who has been featured in several bands in the southern United States. An HSPVA alum and student of Professor Conrad Johnson, Urica will say she's a "just a funk gal" while possessing the chops and thundersoul to slaughter anyone, anywhere.

Master percussionist Louis Bolderghini is a lifelong student and professor of the craft with a legendary resume spanning a history of Houston jazz, including vibraphonist Joe Jackson. (Even though he's from Baaah-ston!) Lou is proud to be an innovative percussion artist, and Drum and Bugle Core World Champion.

Drummer Michael Hatter, of Houma, Louisiana, has been ripping it as a consummate pro for decades on tour, as well as with Houston's finest. In addition to those thunderous chops, Doctor Hatter is an accomplished entertainer,  with a nomination for Best Drummer from the Houston Press Music Awards. This rhythmic combo of Lou and Hatter possess an untold magic that comes alive and grows legs bigger than itself, every performance.

Veteran thoroughbred funkateer, Brandon Miles, holds down the guitars and the occasional organ, monotron, and lasers. Miles has been known at the drop of a funky hat to play a great many of these musical notorieties in the same night.

One never knows what might happen at a Tightn 'Up! show. Historic Houston staple, Last Concert Café says, "[Tightn' Up!] brand of music is technical and progressive, and it has all the elements you need for a booty-bouncing funk show. But it also has an element that few other bands can achieve, a smooth, sensual feel guaranteed to get you moving."

Their debut album, "And Now We Can Begin" (named for an inside joke stemming from an infamous rehearsal) is a representation of forwarding movement and soldiering on as the resilient funky children and torchbearers of Houston soul.

Band Members