LOHI Music Festival Presents: Toubab, Eddie Roberts & Springdale 3.22.13
Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Words By Brad Yeakel
Photos By Kevin Hahn & Justin Garnder
Last night, I braved the elements to get funky. It was my first time seeing Springdale Quartet since the foursome recorded their upcoming album with Soulive's Alan Evans. Evans seemed to have an impact on their playing as everything seemed to have a slightly funkier flare. The songs still had their original sound, but the nuances had a little more swing to them. With solid backing, Ben Waligoske's guitar soared through song after song of adventurous fusion. SQ is rapidly becoming one of my favorite bands in the area.
While it was a chore dragging myself away from the Quartet, I ventured to the ballroom to check out a band I'd heard of, but never heard. Toubab Krewe was busy laying down some tribal grooves with a heavily percussive foundation. The sound they built around these rhythms were relaxing, enjoyable, and unique. I wasn't sure how to describe their sound. It has some African influence, though my abilities to distinguish a specific region wasn't keen enough. It had some reggae zest, but mere traces. What I found most interesting was their kora player, Justin Perkins. A kora's a large instrument with a gourd at the base. It reminded me of a harp crossed with a sitar. The sound it made was worldly, soothing, and pleasing to the ear. I enjoyed watching the band build one of the most organic sounds I've heard in quite some time. Their tunes seemed to rise from the dirt, and represent some connection to earth. I enjoyed it thoroughly and noted that I needed to get ahold of some Krewe ASAP.
Returning to the Other Side, Springdale was wrapping up, and Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds was getting ready to go on with his side project... the West Coast Sounds. From the gate, Eddie launched like an Olympic sprinter bound for gold. His playing immediately grabbed me in a way that seemed to say, "this is what you came here for, now get dancing." The flurry of notes were clean, soft, staccato magnificence strategically placed within the hyper-funky rhythmic chord work. His compadres in the West Coast Sounds did a great job supporting the ambitious guitar work, and generally providing accompaniment. Organ player, Wil Blades provided the bass-lines while Jermal Watson played the kit. Watson played with such force he reminded me of a boxer just punching drums rather than hitting them. The resulting beats were punchy, strong, and immaculate. Trumpeter Mike Olmos and sax player Joe Cohen added horns that brought a new element to Eddie's sound. They were both skilled soloists and seemed to work well together as they weaved their lines together with a funky intricacy and chemistry that was well crafted. Eddie smiled often as he erupted with line after line of breakneck funk. His enjoyment of his craft added to my enjoyment. Multiple times I simply laughed in disbelief. It's not that he is the fastest player I've ever seen, but there is some aspect of his speed that seems blinding considering the style... Like a stenographer transcribing a Micro Machines commercial. In the past couple years, funk has emerged as one of my favorite styles of music, and Mr. Roberts playing is among the very best I've heard. That's why it was such a treat to see him invite another of my favorite funk guitarists to the stage, Soulive/ Lettuce's Eric Krasno. The two of them took turns spontaneously creating funk riffs with improvisational mastery. Roberts finished the night off with an instrumental cover of Gotye's "Somebody that I Used to Know," and I went home excited to see Roberts and company again the next night.
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