Written By: Bill Clifford
Photos by: Chad Anderson
reCAP :: Deep Banana Blackout + Kung Fu :: 2014.03.15
Mar 18 / Tuesday
It was a bit of a Connecti-centric night at The Capitol Theatre on Saturday night! Two of Connecticut’s finest and funkiest bands, reflecting the state’s future funk kings and its historic funk legends, took over the theater, bringing a packed floor of fans with them. And without question, everyone came to get down. In addition, between the two bands' sets, the state’s and the region’s premier music and camping festival, Gathering of The Vibes
, announced its line-up to a hungry fan base eager to lap it up. Oh yeah... It was a birthday celebration as well!
Over the last several years, Kung Fu has been tearing up the east coast tour circuit as a leading act in a new funk movement. The band is a bit of a supergroup of sorts, with three former members of The (Psychedelic) Breakfast, another who splits time between this band and his previous band (RAQ), and one more who is a member in the second act on the bill. The band has just released it’s sophomore studio recording, Tsar Bomba, and as such performed a set heavy on new original material, though some of the songs are favorites that have been in their live repertoire for the last year of more.
“Do The Right Thing” was a jazzy, uptempo groove that gave sax man Rob Sommerville a chance to stretch out and swirl solos in and out of fluid guitar notes. And “Paragon,” shined a light on Tim Palmieri’s deft and fiery guitars, his fingers sliding slickly up and down the frets. But elsewhere, the band was burning up with blazing, hard driving and heavy hitting funk rock, such as on hard hitting “Tsar Bomba,” and then later on the metal like rawk of “Hollywood Kisses.” Here a chorus of three part vocals floated above the din of dense, swirling tones. Keyboardist Todd Stoops was his usual self — that is to say a master of the keys, bobbing up and down from one set of ivories to the other to coax a diverse range of sound from the instruments, especially so on the old school scat of “Scrab.” With a fine new album and such high caliber musicianship, it’s clear that Kung Fu is a force to be reckoned with.
During the intermission, a screen was lowered and the current logo of the Gathering of The Vibes festival glowed for all to see, while several staff members filled the stage. Johnny Durkin, percussionist for the evenings headlining act, took to the microphone as an emcee, with a light-hearted joke or two and then introducing Ken Hays to go through several highlights of the festival – most of which drew rave ovations from the hefty crowd.
Deep Banana Blackout is a Connecticut funk legend! In the late nineties, this band grew from the ashes of another local group and in a few short years, they were drawing rapt and raucous crowds from coast to coast. Tonight was a good example of why they became so popular, so quickly! Live crowds appreciated the vivacious and powerful vocalist, Jenny “Pipes” Durkin, and the heavy, rapturous rhythms of the eight piece funk band laying it down. And with more than a decade of performing experience together, crowds are certainly still enjoying this funk band despite that they only get together two or three times a year.
Hitting its stride early on, the octet raged through a swanky and funky “Breakfast at Volos,” with Jen Durkin banging and clanging on a cowbell throughout and enticing the crowd to sing along. “Get’chall In The Mood” followed and it certainly did get the crowd in the funky mood — with a rumbling, bumbling low-end bass groove. The tempo slowed a bit and couples paired up for some slow dancing in the dark. I escaped for a beverage, making it back to the packed floor just in time to “Bump & Sway” with some of the more rambunctious ladies on the opposite side of the floor. Here, the guitars of Fuzz were loud, scorching wails of feedback.
Several guests joined DBB on stage late in the show, including the very young guitar sensation Bobby Paltauf, a CT-based guitarist building quite a reputation for himself. Kung Fu joined in on the fun(k) and covers ensued. The Jacksons’ “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground),” got the now late night liquefied crowd moving and indeed, shaking their bodies. At various points throughout, there were between 12 and 15 musicians on stage banging or playing on an instrument of one sort or another.
After leaving the stage momentarily, DBB returned for an encore of the hard driving and funky anthem “Tug” that featured bellowing horns and swanky keyboards. And then it was time!!! A slow and low swirling intro gave way to raucous and rapturous boom of “The Boot!” The late night crowd sang along right in chorus with the band, “…hey, hey, hey. Everybody put the boot down!” Heads bobbed back and fourth in rhythm with the thunderous driving bass line, and fists were raised over head in an ominous blow to the man!
And then, with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” in celebration of Johnny Durkin’s birthday, it was all over. This Connecticut funk band still draws a huge crowd in the northeast whenever it gets together to play – of which, like their regular festival gig at Vibes and their regular Funksgiving throw down in New Haven over Thanksgiving weekend — so too is this particular party becoming something of a regular thing.
The Capitol Theatre Photo Gallery
Photos by: Chad Anderson
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