Family Funktion & The Sitar Jams: Colorado 2012
Words By J-man
Photos By Carly Marthis & J-man
Video By J-man
Audio By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings) & Ed Simon
While living in Seneca Falls, NY a few years back, I often found myself venturing to Rochester, Syracuse and Ithaca for music. On one such occasion I fell in love with a unique project out of Buffalo. Following a Max Creek first set at Waterstreet Music Hall, the crowd was directed to the venue's second room (what was being called the "Raga Room") for Family Funktion & The Sitar Jams. Walking through the door, my friends and I were captivated. From the back of the crowd to the stage I went, to try to sort out what I was hearing. When I got to the stage I found the Padmanabha Brothers. I would make the couple hour drive a handfull more times to see this amazing project. When I left New York, I knew Family Funktion & The Sitar Jams would be one of the things that I missed the most.
-Planning A Tour-
Fast forward to the spring of 2012 and a Colorado tour was in the works. Tapping the contacts that I had established since my move, I was able to put together a run of dates that made it possible for Family Funktion & The Sitar Jams to come to Colorado. I would finally stop hearing the question "when are we going to go to New York and see Family Funktion?" from my girlfriend, Carly. Aneal Padmanabha (bass) pulled into town following an extended cross country trip from Buffalo to Denver on Friday around 9:00 pm. Shortly to follow around midnight were his brothers, Naryan Padmanabha (sitar) and Ravi Padmanabha (drums) via Denver International Airport. Rest was in order, as the early morning would demand our focus. It would be time for a day at LOHI Music Festival.
-Saturday August 4th, 2012: LOHI Music Festival-
Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at LoHi Music Festival (Late Night) on August 4, 2012.
Arriving in Denver's Lower Highlands, the band seemed rested and ready to start playing for the Colorado people. Their early set would begin at 11:30 am with a small to moderate turnout gathered to experience Sitar Jams. As the set began, photographers, videographers and music fans moved around in the area in front of the stage. For me, that moment was about three years in the making. Thirty minutes after it began, the set came to a close.
Following a day of eating and drinking VIP style, the boys returned to the stage to open up the VIP late-night. They wasted no time in jumping into mind-bending midi synth effects and loose compositions... Free form at it's best. The madness turned to groove as Sitar Jams raised the energy for the evening's closer, Signal Path with Steve Molitz (Particle), Michael Kang (String Cheese Incident) & Pete Wall (Particle, Textiles). Following the show Steve approached Naryan with high praise for Sitar Jams.
LOHI Music Festival Photo Gallery
-Sunday August 5th, 2012: Quixote's True Blue-
Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at Quixote's True Blue on August 5, 2012.
The load in at Quixote's, drew much excitement from the band, as they had never been to such a place, and although I attempted to describe it, nothing I could have said would have done it justice. Taking the stage to a fairly dismal turn out, The Padmanabha brothers did a great job of outputting a high level of energy. As the set went on, more and more people tuned into this special happening in the "Owsley's" courtyard. As the band wound down their hour and a half set, the crowd demanded one more. Following the band's closer, Corey Sandoval kept the clapping going and demanded yet another song. The band dedicated the song to Corey and went into the most fitting number of the afternoon, "Jerry."
South Florida band, The Heavy Pets headlined the evening and following the first set, the guys were apprehensive about taking the stage for their "tweener" set, following what was an awesome first set by the Pets. The band stepped up to the delight of a few lingering fans and played a great set. It was cool to see members of the Pets intently focused on what Sitar Jams was doing and though the set was short, it was fantastic.
Quixote's True Blue Photo Gallery
-Monday August 6th, 2012: Sancho's Broken Arrow-
Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at Sancho's Broken Arrow on August 6, 2012.
Sancho's was possibly the highlight of the clubs that the boys played. Monday nights at Sancho's are a staple in the Denver music scene, with a built in crowd of a couple hundred. That night over three hundred and seventy five people passed through the door of the small Colfax Ave. bar. The fans were appreciative and captivated by the music. They danced their asses off and cheered loudly in between songs and jams. You could feel the reciprocal energy flowing between the band and crowd. That night, the bands improvised drum jams would steal the show.
Two sets of incredible music came and went, with fans sticking around after the show to praise the band and purchase a record amount of merchandise which was discounted for the occasion. The guys were excited. Club owner Jay Bianchi was thrilled and gave the band more than the agreed upon compensation for such a great night! That night in our excitement, we would purchase almost fifty dollars worth of drive through food and return to my house to revel in the energy. A couple of days later Jay would ask Sitar Jams to return to Quixote's, however, being in Breckenridge at the time, made it impossible. The band was grateful for the additional offer.
Sancho's Broken Arrow Photo Gallery
-Thursday August 9th, 2012: Highland Tap & Burger-
Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at Highland Tap & Burger on August 9, 2012.
Following a couple of days of rest, a couple of early morning yoga sessions and a trip to Breckenridge, Sitar Jams returned to Denver's Lower Highlands for a night at The Highland Tap & Burger. That show would mark their final evening show in Denver and what a show it was. The band sounded well rehearsed and comfortable as they attempted to do something that they had never previously attempted. The band reached into their wide range of influences to utilize a similar approach as Zakir Hussain's Tabla Beat Science. The electronic midi and drum machine coupled beautifully with the raw sound of the tablas and Aneal's psychedelic slide guitar work.
Halfway through the session, as they had done every show, they thanked Carly and I. But this time they had a little surprise up their sleeve. They had purchased tickets for Carly and I to join them at Red Rocks the following evening for Thievery Corporation and Beats Antique. It was a cool moment as fans and was a great close to our week with Family Funktion & The Sitar Jams.
Highland Tap & Burger Photo Gallery
-Friday August 10th, 2012: Greek Theater at Civic Center Park-
A High Society Affair was a free event in Denver's Civic Center Park celebrating Jerry Garcia and would mark the band's biggest stage to date. Sitar Jams opened the event and although the turnout was dismal at 3:00pm on that Friday afternoon, the band and myself, had a blast. They sounded great as they played through tunes that I had fallen in love with throughout the week. For the handful of people in attendance it was a special moment. A couple of the folks have since reached out to the band via Facebook to let them know how incredible it was. As I filmed and photographed, I handed out copies of their newest album for free.
Their new song, "Jerry" made another fitting appearance and as the band played, the enormous sound raced away from the stage bouncing between buildings in downtown Denver with beautiful vibrations. The magic of the moment could not be overstated. As their set concluded, the band dove into one last powerful percussion jam. Following the set we wandered around the event taking it all in before heading home and preparing for our evening at Red Rocks. To see Naryan, Aneal and Ravi's excitement from the shear glory that is Red Rocks was an incredible end to the week.
Civic Center Park Photo Gallery
This was the band's first decent set of dates outside of the their home state of New York. For me it marked both a proud moment and the conclusion of my selfish ploy to bring one of my favorite bands to my hometown for a string of dates at my favorite venues...
*Additional audio, video & content will be added to this article as it is released