Fat Tuesdays for Funk / Soul / Jazz / Blues musicians

It’s been a while since I put up a blog.  I’ve had the pleasure of getting married recently so have been pre-occupied :) .  I’ll write a blog about some of the excellent suppliers we found sometime soon, and also one about the nightmare that finding a band can be! Some of the demands bands make, and fees that agents charge left me a little cold. Anyway – another time..  

I have an inkling of an idea. It’s a mere spark in the milkman’s eye at the moment but why not put it on the internet.

Whenever I’m thinking about what to do for an evening out there are 2 things that tend to spring to mind.  First is that I would like to see more local gigs that showcase quality music and clever ideas.  Second is that I’m always on the look out to meet and play with more musicians.

Unfortunately many of the gigs that you stumble across don’t display much in terms of ambition and ability.  For those of us who are in bands there is always the problem of finding deps, and keeping them up to speed with what you do. I also suspect that there are many musicians out there who have not had the chance to sit in with bands either for fun, for extra cash, or even just experience and to cut their teeth.

What if we could start a regular night where we took over a venue, had some equipment set up, and let a variety of bands play a few numbers each / share ideas / jam / collaborate? Let people showcase ideas or meet and play with potential deps.  It would essentially be a free club for local musicians to bring ideas and have fun. Of course you’d need to be invited to play… we wouldn’t want it to border on karaoke!

It’s probably just a dream but wouldn’t it be cool to know you could just show up, hear quality music, meet like minded musicians and have a few drinks. 

Maybe it’s just me…?

Do you offer a smaller band?

Hi all,  hope everyone’s well :) We are often asked if we offer a smaller band… Well It’s not always an easy question to answer.  

The thing is, when we set this band up the dream was to have a full horn section playing both the iconic horn lines in many of the songs, but also doing new and exciting things to songs that dont have a horn part already written. Why? Because they sound soooo fat! I love soul, funk, blues and all sorts of music and those genres really shine when there’s an exciting horn section playing some fat riffs and funky stabs. You just can’t beat it.

Many of the songs we do would sound empty without the various horn parts. No-one would expect us to play without a guitar, so why are the sax, trumpet & trombone so easy to scrap? Think of the intro to Soul man, I bet you can’t imagine it without that fast horn part, or imagine respect without that sax solo – they’re integral parts of the songs. We could play without the horns but many times we just choose not to go without. We want to sound as good as possible and we put in a lot of work to make it all sound tight and full. At full compliment there are 9 of us – that takes some arranging to make sure it doesn’t just sound a mess.  Our guitarist Adrian spends a lot of long late nights charting everything out to perfection just so that we can be the band we want to be. The Blues brothers wouldn’t play without Mr. Fabulous Alan Rubin, who sadly passed away last year, (it’s one of the best scenes in an amazing movie when they try to recruit him in the restaurant – classic) so we choose not to play too often without our guys.

So, if we look torn when you ask if we play as a smaller band it’s simply because there is a great legacy of horn players in classic and modern funk and soul. Check out Marvin playing live, or Aretha, or Sam and Dave – always a full horn section. Beyonce tours with a horn section and uses them to great effect live. I love the sound of the horns riffing away over a groove – it can’t be beat. You can take any 3, 4 or 5 piece, who might be excellent at what they do, but if they’re playing any funk or soul I bet that you notice the gap. So if you’re booking a band for a party go the extra mile and choose one who can recreate those classic tunes the way they should be done :)  

Of course if horn players learned the music instead of sight reading we’d love them even more…. But part of love is accepting the other parties faults :)

If you like horn players then check out trombone shorty, big sams funky nation, kermit ruffins, hot 8, soul rebels, mad caddies for some ska, cherry poppin daddies for some swing… 

We’re at the Winevaults in Thursday 28th June, come and have a drink with us and a boogie.

Ta-ta. 

A controversial defence

** Due to the controversial nature of this blog I should state that this is my opinion alone, and not necessarily that of the whole Fat Cat Soul Band **

A few weeks ago I was doing some sorting and tidying in my flat.  From the next room I heard my lovely girlfriend shout “Simon, we need to talk”.  So, heart in mouth, I head into the other room to see her standing there, holding something that is supposed to elicit shame and embarrassment in me. I know what you’re all assuming, but no you’re wrong.  In her eyes this may be considered worse….

It was my “One night alone… live” Prince boxset.

A small argument ensued around a) whether I should own such an item (and have it out in the open for just anyone to see), and b) whether Prince is in fact any good.

Prince has written some incredible funk songs and I will happily defend that point against anyone.  The arrangements from the structure to the use of horns is always so tasteful, and it always grooves. On nearly every album he’s done there is at least one killer funk tune – there’s a reason that people like Maceo Parker are happy to play with him (besides the cash).  Check out these examples for some slightly lesser known examples:

FUNK – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iPcUFNR2aA
The Work – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYb_Kl-qKcI
Family Name – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXWbNotSawI&feature=related
Get on the boat (sorry for the image used) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zk0_U7siJc
Musicology – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG301CI1rHs&feature=related
Ol’ skool company – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuGrQPf_ioY

Now I know that you could probably put up a load of links to songs that would make me cringe (and even more photos of his outfits from the past) but these songs are great and the guy really knows how to do funk. Not only that but he (and importantly his band) put on a really exceptional live show.

Now to be balanced and to show that I’m not blindly naive I should share this brilliant story from Kevin Smith http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy_cLJ19HMg&feature=relmfu. Follow the links for the whole story – I apologise for some of the language in this but the guy can really tell a story. I respect Prince and recognise talent, but clearly he can sometimes come across as very very weird.

So whilst I will defend my admiration of some of Prince’s music, I wouldn’t say he’s in my top 10 of people I want to have a beer with!  Mind you, it could be worse… Lionel …. just saying Nat… ;)

Soul and Funk never get dull

We’ve been busy recently with various weddings and parties. The Weddings have all been fantastic and we’ve been lucky enough to have been hired by some genuinely lovely couples. Their guests have all been up for a good time, and been kind enough to dance through our set, and chat to us afterwards.

I think it helps that we all genuinely enjoy, and get a buzz out of playing. That seems to come across and people are more receptive to a band that is having a good time whilst they play. It struck me whilst we were playing “Signed, sealed, delivered” (for the hundredth time), at a brilliant wedding in Bradford-upon-Avon, that I never get bored of playing the songs we play! We have not only gigged them countless times, but we’ve also rehearsed them probably just as many times again. There are some songs that we do that are different to the original (“Tainted Love” being a prime example), and I get excited about people hearing it and seeing the penny drop as we mix it up with another popular melody. But I even still get a kick out of playing the songs exactly as per the recording.

Soul and funk never get dull!

That’s partly down to the vibe, and feel of the songs. They always lift your spirits. It’s also down to how amazingly well written the songs are as well. Stevie Wonder is an absolute genius! The man wrote so many timeless hits that are more musically interesting and catchy than thousands of records that have come since.

A couple of fun Stevie links:
With another legend http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJYUSdX-Rps&feature=related;
covered regularly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCPjeOPjH5Y
the bass player on this made me want to sell my bass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CZtxgl6qNo

Thinking of the guys who play in the background I’m constantly amazed by how many of the songs from our set were originally backed by the same bunch of guys – The Funk Brothers. All you have to do is scroll down on their Wikipedia page for a list of songs they played on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Funk_Brothers

It reads like a list of essential records from that period. Incidentally if you think any are missing then it’s likely that they were recorded by the guys at Stax – Booker T and the MG’s, or the LA group The Wrecking Crew. These guys were all incredible musicians who carved their own personalities into the songs. James Jamerson (bass) alone is idolised by bass players everywhere. Just check out the chorus line to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz-UvQYAmbg for tasteful and just right, or if you want to hear him play all over the fret board then listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8YPxkZ6m3s&feature=fvwrel – not a single bar is repeated – the guy was a monster player.

Sadly they never really got the fame that they deserved in their hay-day. They were the ultimate session band and deserve all the respect and admiration that the records they played on have.

For us we’re just happy that they made all the songs so interesting and fun to play. It means that we get a kick out of them when we learn them and when we play them for the hundredth time.