MusicMarauders Presents: The New Mastersounds

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot Photography)

Red Coats. Tea and Crumpets. Soccer Hooligans. These are just three of the various things that come to my mind when I think of the United Kingdom, and more specifically Great Britain. The “Isle of Plenty”, as many Europeans have come to call it has produced a number of incredible musical acts/performers over the years. For starters, such bands as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones all originate and hail from Queen Elizabeth’s playground while musicians such as Eric Clapton, David Bowie, and Elton John were born and bred in Britain as well. Such an incredible amount of musical talent coming from one nation is not too uncommon, but when it includes the likes of those I mentioned above one might be forced to say that the “Isle of Plenty” has produced not only some of the best talent ever seen on our musical earth, but the most impressive lineup of bands one nation could put forth.

So how do musicians coming out of Great Britain live up to the hype and standard of these mega-bands/musicians who have come before them? Hailing from the town of Leeds, The New Mastersounds have taken the idea of following in these superstar’s footsteps and thrown some seriously funky beats at it. Led by guitarist and crowd pleaser Eddie Roberts, this British quartet has been touring the world hard as of late, and brings with them their own version of a funky good time. Known for truly making the crowds want to dance their pants off, The New Mastersounds have created a nice little following for them out here in our great state of Colorado. Whether their popularity has increased from playing Cervantes the last couple of years, headlining the secopnd annual LOHI Festival with the Kyle Hollingsworth Band this past June, or being part of this year’s world-renowned Telluride Jazz Festival, Eddie Roberts and his funky British band-mates are taking the jamband scene by storm and popping up all over the festival circuit. So why are they becoming so popular?

Let me be the first one to tell you, The New Mastersounds are on fucking fire! In my opinion, their continual rise up the popularity charts is due their incredible musicianship along with their care-free, no worries, have a great dance party attitude. Known throughout Europe and Japan for their renditions on classic hits and complete commitment to the idea of a “New Funk” scene, these lads definitely know their way around any musical instrument. Joe Tatton, the resident B3 Hammond and keyboard wizard of Leeds has a great feel for the ivories and uses jazz chord progressions to balance out the level of necessary funk. Tatton, playing from a seated position most of the night seems to even direct Roberts and the overall groove of the band from time to time and can take a song from one genre to another without hesitation. Whether it is a funky almost bass-like line, or an up-tempo, mind-rattling B3 solo, Tatton has complete control when it comes to the keys.

When you have funk, you must have rhythm and The New Mastersounds have plenty of it. Utilizing bass playing Pete Shand’s groovy and fast-moving bass lines with Simon Allen’s pure enthusiasm and youthfully entertaining way of playing the drums, the rhythm section of this British quarter does not seem to ever miss a beat. Simon is a hoot on the drum kit, and each time I have had the pleasure of seeing him play, he is missing a different piece of clothing. (It was his shirt this time) Along with his great personality Allen is a beast when it comes to all things having to do with percussion and with Shand on the bass form a very formidable rhythm section. Pete Shand seems like the coolest man in the room each time he takes the stage and his playing certainly can back it up. Standing and playing to the right of band leader Eddie Roberts, Shand calls out different instructions and timing changes whenever he deems fit and always seems to be right on cue. With Allen, Shand, and Tatton The New Mastersounds don’t need much else to get the job done, but throw in their producer/leader Eddie Roberts and the quartet just became a whole lot cooler.

I first was introduced to Roberts and his very unique way of shredding the guitar on this past year’s Jam Cruise as he led the infamous “SuperJam” along with an amazing array of various musicians. Immediately I was drawn to Roberts after seeing his classic way of dressing and slicked back hairstyle mixing right in with all of us “High on Life” cruisers. Eddie has an amazing aura surrounding him wherever he goes, and the essence of old-school jazz/funk exudes from his skin like I’m sure it used to with B.B. King and Buddy Guy. I instantly fell for Roberts and his fast-paced way of strumming his guitar and each time I am fortunate to be in the same town as one of his project’s I make sure to put my life on hold and attend the show. For this particular evening, Eddie invited one of his newest musical friends and Denver’s own Kim Dawson from The Motet to join along for the festivities and her sultry powerful voice blended in perfectly with the British funk. Roberts and Dawson seem like they were born in the same era as that “Old, funky” musical feeling, which I get when I see someone such as Bill Frisell, can also be seen in Dawson’s magnificent beauty. Roberts always seems to be right on point with his musical ideas, and I am very glad he decided to invite Ms. Dawson to join the party.

Funk. Jazz. Funky jazz. Jazzy funk. All four of these similar, but yet different enough musical genres allow The New Mastersounds to take each one and perfect it to an unmatched level of expertise. No matter which member of the quartet begins the song, or leads the groove of that particular moment each piece is played with a great passion and obvious determination to be as perfect as possible. Roberts, who produces and leads the group has the ability to play any song, any note, and with any band. Tatton, as I mentioned before is a wizard on the B3/keys and can be heard trading riffs with all members of the band at different times throughout a performance. Shand and Allen provide the rhythm, which drives the bus that is this unique version of British funk, and are irreplaceable when it comes to what The New Mastersounds are doing on a nightly basis. And adding Kim Dawson to the mix on this night is just almost unfair for us common musical observers. So what should you take from this? Go see these guys whenever they are in town because I promise it is not only a great musical time, but the level of entertainment which is provided is hard to match.

“The British are coming!” Yes they are, and I hope they keep bringing the funk with them.

Kevin's Photo Gallery


Popular posts from this blog

Buckethead: Gimmick or Guitar God?

Livetronica Sampler 3.22.11

Billy Strings 4.18.19

Joe Russo's Almost Dead 6.1.24

PREVIEW: Yarmony Music Festival 6.28 - 6.29.24