Cha Wa: Funk ‘n’ Feathers at the Sunset Concerts

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Sunset Concerts

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Eric Howell’s King Mixer at the Sunset Concerts: Starring Again at Turley Park

Who: Cha Wa
What: Sunset Concert Series (Mardi Gras Indian band)
When: 2017-07-13
Cha Wa hustles into the Sunset Concerts Thursday, July 13 on the steps of Shryock Auditorium. The Ma
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

Cha Wa hustles into the Sunset Concerts Thursday, July 13 on the steps of Shryock Auditorium. The Mardi Gras Indian band brings a bright, brilliant blend of deep funk and percussive polyrhythms to produce an honest party sound that pays homage to and celebrates the history of New Orleans’s infectious rhythms.

Bandleader and drummer Joe Gelini, who moved to New Orleans after he graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, has been involved with Mardi Gras Indians for several years. He first heard their music (one of hip-hop’s primary musical ancestors) when he went to see one of his mentors, New Orleans-born jazz and funk drummer Idris Muhammad, perform.

Gelini asked if he could have a lesson, not knowing that simple request would forever change his life.

“It’s so real,” Gelini said. “It just kind of spoke to me. I was not ever exposed to that much soul.”

When he moved to New Orleans, Gelini saw Indians march down Dryades Street on Mardi Gras Day, and he was hooked.

“It was the energy, the spirit, the honesty,” he said. “Cha Wa started as almost more of a project than a band, and it just kind of grew from there.”

The origins of the Mardi Gras Indians are shrouded in mystery, with some historians tracing their existence back to the 1700s, when official records first noted the presence of Africans in New Orleans wearing Native American attire.

Mardi Gras Indians today sew intricate, gorgeous suits with large, brightly feathered headdresses called crowns. On Mardi Gras Day, Indians tribes march through the streets singing, chanting, and playing various percussion instruments. When two tribes meet, they battle over which one has the prettiest outfits and, in a sort of poetry slam or dozen contest, makes the best music.

Mardi Gras Indian tribes hold gatherings in bars and backyards, where they rehearse their rhythms and singing and make costumes. Gelini said he learned how to play the drums from the percussionists who provide the rhythmic base while the Indians would sing and keep one another in line. Gelini later became friends with a number of the Golden Eagles, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux’s band.

Cha Wa— their name is a slang term meaning “We’re comin’ for ya”— uses these traditions as well as some authentic practitioners of New Orleans funk. Gelini said a major component of the Cha Wa sound is Spy Boy J’Wan Boudreaux, the grandson of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux. The senior Boudreaux is considered one of the greatest Mardi Gras Indian singers ever. J’Wan combines the lyrics and style of his grandfather with a more modern take on the traditional music.

Gelini said Funk ‘n’ Feathers, Cha Wa’s 2016 debut album, incorporates Mardi Gras Indian music, brass bands, and the street culture of the Crescent City with the funky musical stylings of the Wild Magnolias (backed by the Meters), the Wild Tchoupitoulas, the Neville Brothers, and Doctor John.

Ben Ellman of Galactic, who also produced Trombone Shorty’s breakthrough album Backatown, produced Funk ‘n’ Feathers. The contemporary result culminates on a wild interpretation of Doctor John’s “All on a Mardi Gras Day,” which keeps the feet moving from start to finish.

Gelini said that performing with Cha Wa is more of a feeling than thinking process.

“Hopefully as little [thinking] as possible,” Gelini said. “It’s as real as a feeling as any thinking. If I’m thinking, then there is very little feeling. It should be spontaneous and spiritual.”

Gelini said the band is excited to come to Carbondale.

“It’s like having Indian practice with modern recordings and modern production and using it all together,” he said about the band’s live show. “It’s classic and contemporary at the same time.”

For more information, check out <>.

who: Cha Wa

what: Sunset Concert Series (Mardi Gras Indian band)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium


when: Thursday, July 13

Funky Butt Brass Band: New Orleans Beat with Saint Louis Heat at the CarbondaleRocks Revival

Venues & Businesses
Carbondale Music Coalition

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Funky Butt Brass Band: A Funky Good Time
Funky Butt Brass Band: Mardi Gras in August!

Who: Funky Butt Brass Band
What: CarbondaleRocks Revival music festival (Dixieland jazz)
When: 2016-10-01
One Saint Louis-based band is ready to make CarbondaleRocks Revival audiences shake their rumps to a
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

One Saint Louis-based band is ready to make CarbondaleRocks Revival audiences shake their rumps to an infectious beat usually renowned for coming from a bit further down the Mississippi River.

The Funky Butt Brass Band captures the spirit of the New Orleans second-line brass-band traditions with a Gateway City twist Saturday, October 1 on the Washington Street DaVinci Stage.

“We like to say that it is New Orleans brass meets Saint Louis attitude,” as the band’s guitarist and vocalist, Tim Halpin, describes the Funky Butt Brass Band to Nightlife.

The New Orleans brass stylings are similar to the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Rebirth, and Bonerama, just to name a few. But Halpin says setlists have also shaken things up by throwing in Saint Louis rhythm and blues, Motown classics, southern rock, Memphis soul, and Chicago blues.

Formed in 2008, the band includes Halpin, Adam Hucke on trumpet and vocals, Austin Cebulske on saxophone, Aaron Chandler on trombone and vocals, Cody Henry on sousaphone, and Ron Sikes on drums.

“We just all thought that something like that was missing,” Halpin said of the reason to form a second-line funk band.

In 2009, the Funky Butt Brass Band released their debut album, Cut the Body Loose. The sophomore album You Can Trust the Funky Butt Brass Band came out two years later.

The latest effort, 2014’s Sugar Sugar Whomp Whomp, features nine original songs and two New Orleans covers.

Halpin said he has fun making unique music with his bandmates. Part of what he enjoys is adapting music that were not originally recorded or even thought of as New Orleans brass-based songs.

Halpin added that these special elements add to the live shows, help freshen the ideas, and act as a cathartic release for the band.

“Sometimes we’ll just do that, pick an artist or theme and try to center a whole show setlist around it,” Halpin said. “We’ve been working on a Huey Lewis and the News one right now.... We were all Prince fans, so when he died we dedicated a whole show to his music.”

Some songs are easier to adapt than others, but the purpose, Halpin said, is to make it work and add an element of fun.

The Funky Butt Brass Band is looking to record a children’s album and possibly another album during the next year. Halpin added that the band will also work on and prepare for their annual Christmas show, a holiday tradition where the rowdy nature of the band meets classic holiday tunes.

All in the name of fun.

“We just want everyone to have a good time,” Halpin said.

For more information, check out <>.

who: Funky Butt Brass Band

what: CarbondaleRocks Revival music festival (Dixieland jazz)

where: Washington Street DaVinci Stage


when: Saturday, October 1

Seventeenth Floor: Live Hip-hop Heights

Venues & Businesses
Pinch Penny Pub

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Seventeenth Floor: Rapidly Rising Funk and Hip-hop
Seventeenth Floor: Taking Hip-hop to Another Level

Who: Seventeenth Floor
What: funk, hip-hop
When: 2016-09-24
The Seventeenth Floor has built a reputation for high-energy live hip-hop and rhythm and blues that
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

The Seventeenth Floor has built a reputation for high-energy live hip-hop and rhythm and blues that can keep a celebration going well into the wee hours of the morning. Now the band, one of the nation’s premier hip-hop cover groups, checks in with all the other party people Saturday, September 24 at Pinch Penny Pub.

The Seventeenth Floor began when two brothers and rhythm-section musicians decided to form the nucleus of a band. Then drummer Greg Thompson and bass guitarist Aaron “A.T.” Thompson exhaustively auditioned other musicians to find tip-top musicians to join the Seventeenth Floor. The current lineup includes Traye D. on lead vocals, Jroc on vocals, Frankie Blaze on guitar and keyboards, A.T. Thompson on bass, and D’zel on drums.

The first big break came in 1992, after the Seventeenth Floor had already dominated the college-campus circuit in the southern United States. TLC stumbled upon one of Seventeenth Floor’s rehearsals in Atlanta, and in all happenstance the trio needed a backing band for an upcoming world tour. With that, the Seventeenth Floor graduated from fraternity houses to forty-thousand-seat arenas.

But the chance meeting with TLC was not the only time the Seventeenth Floor would get in on the ground floor with an emerging national act. The stars aligned again as a young and up-and-coming artist named Usher contacted and hired the band to back him in 1996. The Seventeenth Floor rehearsed with Usher for his My Way tour and even appeared with him on Fox’s Keenan Ivory Wayans Show.

The group has also opened for Snoop Dogg, Maroon Five, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Nappy Roots, Juvenile, and Earth, Wind, and Fire.

The Seventeenth Floor creates a party experience with top-ten cover tunes and originals. The setlist include hits by Usher, Drake, Ginuwine, House of Pain, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Lil Jon, Kendrick Lamar, Doctor Dre, DJ Khaled, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, and Kanye West.

Averaging more than two-hundred live performances every year, the group perfected an amped-up atmosphere to shake away the weekday blues.

“It’s all about the energy,” Aaron Thompson tells Nightlife. “We want people to come out and have a good time.”

One of the biggest gigs, Aaron Thompson said, came in Ohio last summer.

“We played shows in Cleveland around the time of the NBA Finals,” he said, “right in front of an eighty-thousand [person] crowd. It was amazing. They wanted to have us back, but we were already booked in Louisiana. But who knows? Maybe next time.”

Thompson said the Pinch Penny show is the only opportunity to see the band in the state.

“It’s the only place we play in Illinois,” he said, “and we always enjoy coming back to Carbondale.”

For more information, check out <>.

who: Seventeenth Floor

what: funk, hip-hop

where: Pinch Penny Pub Beer Garden / Copper Dragon Brewing Company


when: Saturday, September 24

Jungle Dogs Reunion 2016: Resurrecting Carbondale’s Wildest Years

Jungle Dogs

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Venues & Businesses
Copper Dragon, The
Pinch Penny Pub

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Jungle Dogs Reunion 2013: A Quarter Century of Music, Memories, and Fun
Jungle Dogs Reunion 2014: A Wild Carbondale Party Tradition Continues
Jungle Dogs Reunion 2015: Still Kicking the School Year off With a Real Party
Jungle Dogs Reunion Concert 2012: Together Again for a Party, Nostalgia, and Cold Beer
Jungle Dogs: Returning to Reopen Their Own Back Yard
Jungle Dogs: SIU’s Party-school Image Incarnate

Who: Jungle Dogs reunion show
What: funk, reggae, ska, calypso
When: 2016-09-03
The Jungle Dogs are back for their much-anticipated annual Labor Day reunion concert Saturday, Septe
Jeff Hale
Video Comentary

The Jungle Dogs are back for their much-anticipated annual Labor Day reunion concert Saturday, September 3 in the Pinch Penny Pub Beer Garden. (The rain location is in the Copper Dragon Brewing Company.)

It’s been almost thirty years since the group came out of the ranks of the SIU School of Music with the goal to make people happy playing music. Originally the plan was to play Cajun music. But the serendipitous mistake of spinning a calypso album at the wrong speed captured the budding band’s attention and heart, and changed the group’s musical direction. It would prove to be a momentous decision, both for the group that would soon christen themselves the Jungle Dogs, and for the audiences that would soon flock to hear them. The group’s music, a red-hot mix of calypso, ska, reggae, and funk, caught on with college audiences like an out of control wildfire, and within a year the Jungle Dogs had built a dedicated fan base that would follow them for the next twenty-eight years.

“I love the Jungle Dogs!” eagerly cries long-time dedicated fan Carol Conley. “I have always loved them! They are one of my favorite memories of my Carbondale days! I’ve ‘jumped up ‘cause I like cold beer’ more times than I can count! Who wouldn’t love that eclectic mix of rock, reggae and calypso funk?”

Conley’s sentiments perfectly describe the adoration that grew between the Jungle Dogs and the scores of fans they drew to live shows during their reign over SIU’s golden party era.

Then, in 2004, growing families and changing career directions led to the band retiring from public performing. After a six-year break, the nine men (saxophone player Klaus “Rock the House” Bank, bass player Eddie Chapa, trombone player Larry Daly, trumpet and keyboard player Keith Huffman, drummer John Hunter, percussionist Matt Linsin, trombone and keyboard player Jim Owens, guitarist Dan Schingel, and trumpet player and frontman D. Ward) who made “Cold Beer” Carbondale’s unofficial anthem came back together for a reunion. Original Dogs fans from the eighties came, some with children (gasp) old enough to enter Pinch and party alongside their parents, and new SIU students exploring the Carbondale scene for the first time had a chance to come out and enjoy a taste of what made Carbondale a party town in the best sense of the word. The Jungle Dogs’ Labor Day reunion has taken place every year since.

Find out more at <>.

Recently, Nightlife had a chance to catch up with original Jungle Dog, guitarist extraordinaire, and tall-tale-teller Dan Schingel for the inside scoop on this year’s show, what it’s like to be a part of such a long-lasting brotherhood, and some exciting new developments for this year’s concert.

It’s hard to believe another year’s gone by and we’re almost ready for another reunion show. Are you excited?

We are definitely looking forward to a big time! This is the sixth year we’ve done a reunion concert. It’s always great, always a lot of fun. This one is especially going to be a lot of fun because we’ve actually got a couple of studio musicians and singers from California coming in to sit in with the band on a few songs to kind of spice up the old Jungle Dogs! [laughing] You know, some of us guys in the band are kind of getting up there in age, and it’s tough to keep singing like a young man, so we’ve brought in a couple of new guys to sing with us. These are big-time California musicians and singers. They’ve sung with Michael Jackson and Don Henley as backup singers.

That’s exciting! How did that come about?

These guys are kind of friends of the band. They were in a band back in the late seventies and early eighties with a couple of guys in our band, and they went on to fame out in California as really good rock ‘n’ roll singers. They are stars in their own right, and we thought it would be a lot of fun to have them sit in on a couple of songs. Without revealing too much, their first names are Darryl and Dorian, and they’re coming in to help us polish out a few things. It’s gonna be great.

For your fans, ranging from the eighties to the present, your music and concerts have given birth to so many great memories. Is it the same way for the guys in the band?

I would definitely say one-hundred percent. To this day, there isn’t one single show that we do that we don’t have multiple people come up to us and tell us about.... There’s nine guys in our band, and at every show, different people come up to every one of us and say, “I remember this,” or “I remember that.” And it’s to the point now that some of them bring their kids along so they can see the stuff that we did. That’s always a lot of fun, too.

One of the legends that has grown out of the reunion concerts is the now-famous practice and jam session you guys do the night before the show. Is that going again this year?

It’s definitely happening on Friday night, in an undisclosed location in Southern Illinois. And of course, there’s always people that find it. And of course, I’ll make a great big pot of gumbo or something equally as good and we all sit around going through the songs. At first we all roll our eyes and say, “Oh, boy,” but then when the pedal hits the metal on Saturday night, something just clicks. It’s always good.

Good is definitely the feeling that a Jungle Dogs show leaves its fans with. Something about that calypso/reggae/ska sound just makes you feel good. Was it that way from the beginning for the Jungle Dogs?

From the beginning, we always wanted to make people happy. We wanted to be a group of guys that pleased people with our music. We started out thinking that we would be a Cajun band. Then we realized that we were playing too many chords and were too complex to be a Cajun band. Then, in the mid-eighties, this guy brought an album to us, a folk album from Jamaica. He said to check it out because we might like it. We put it on the turntable, and we screwed up. We put the speed on forty-five instead of thirty-three, and all these folks tunes from Jamaica were sped up. We were like, “This is really cool! We should do this!” and then we figured out what a mistake we’d made. But then we thought, “Keep with it, man. This is our future!” There you go. That was that. It was nothing anybody was doing. Nobody else was doing anything like it at the time. Call it luck or whatever, but we landed on it.

Do you remember that first gig you all played together officially as the Jungle Dogs?

I do. And when we played it, it was so much fun that even though we made absolutely no money, we were like, “That’s okay.” At the venue we played, they said they would either give us $300 or we could take eighty percent of the door. We said, “Screw it, let’s take eighty percent of the door.” We made $12 apiece. Everybody loved it, though. From that point on, it was over the top. We had a lot of fun from that point on.

The first Jungle Dogs concert was in 1988. In 2016, you are two years away from the thirtieth year of all of you playing music together. Is that hard to fathom for all of you?

Yes and no. When you get to be my age, you say that about a lot of things. We stopped ten years ago, and then started again six years ago. For every person in the band, life had changed so much. Children, jobs, everything. You blink your eyes and it feels like yesterday. Yet in some ways it feels like a million years ago. But that’s what’s great. At these shows you’ve got college kids hangin’ with people twice their age. I had a woman from Murphysboro tell me, probably four years ago, that at the end of the night she was dancing, and some college girl came up to her and said, “I wish my mom could be like you!”

That’s the most impressive part of these reunion shows is that you have layers of generations that are now coming out to enjoy the music. Is the atmosphere something you as a group have intended to cultivate, or would you attribute it to the feelings inspired by the music itself?

It’s absolutely the music. There is music that is intended for each generation, niche music that doesn’t make it after ten years or so. But calypso music, that infectious music and the rhythms that we play, seem to keep perpetuating themselves, all the way from Harry Belafonte all the way up to Bruno Mars. If you tap into that rhythm, you’ll find that it’s not in a time capsule. It spans such a long time period. That kind of groove is infectious, and you can’t put it down. Trends come and go, but I think that particular kind of music is just there for eternity.

What is it like to be a part of the musical brotherhood that is the Jungle Dogs, and has stood the test of time?

You put it on the back burner sometimes. But then, I’ll have a total stranger come up to me and mention the band. For me, that’s really heartwarming. I know, in my heart, as a Jungle Dog, my best days are over. I don’t pretend to be anything special. I mean, I’ve got a day job. But yet I know that we put such a timestamp on what we did. I’m always thinking, “Well, it’s surely got to stop somewhere.” But then every year, inevitably, I’ll have at least two or three people come up to me and mention a great memory. That is so humbling, because I know we made them happy, for at least one night. So many people spend their lives doing things that don’t make anyone happy. I’ve made happy, people I don’t even know. That makes a big difference to me. I’ll take that to my grave.

How do you see the future of The Jungle Dogs? Do you think it will continue for years to come?

[laughing] To be honest with you, I hope they will. But I will also tell everybody, in all honesty, if you really want to see the Jungle Dogs, by all means, come see us this weekend. Who knows for sure? Our drummer is moved out west, about halfway to Japan, so it’s getting more and more difficult to get everyone together. I definitely hope it will go on, but you just never know. We’re all getting up there in age. Who knows what next year will bring?

Do you have a favorite memory, or a gig that stands out?

There are so many, but I do have a very favorite. It was the year we actually got to play on the stage of the Du Quoin State Fair Grandstand. My father and mother and all my brothers and sisters-in-laws were there. It really meant a lot to me because my dad always kind of shook his head like, “Why is this kid trying to be a guitar player? I want him to be a banker or an accountant or something.” My father just passed away this year, but that gig stands out in my mind because he was just so proud of the band and what I was involved in. To see that ear-to-ear grin on my dad’s face was just huge for me. My dad came to see a few other gigs, but playing on the main stage at the state fair and seeing my dad with this look on his face that said, “Yeah my son was a little crazy with that guitar thing, but by god he made something out of it” was just huge.

What is your favorite song to play live on stage?

So many bands try to get serious about social issues or love, but without a doubt, the Jungle Dogs thing is about fun and humor, even when we try to get serious. There’s no doubt that “Cold Beer” is our anthem and I definitely enjoy playing it. But I really love “Be Careful What You Wish For.” That’s my favorite song that I’ve written. Probably my favorite song that the Jungle Dogs do that isn’t “Cold Beer” is “Why, Why,” that Dan Ward wrote. Those three are the strongest songs that I like to play, definitely.

If you were to issue an invitation to this weekend’s reunion concert, what would you say to our readers to get them to dig into their pockets for that cover charge and enjoy a night out with friends?

I would say come to a Jungle Dogs show because you will not see any local band in America doing this kind of upbeat music as good as we do it. There’s no doubt in my mind. Come out and see us!

who: Jungle Dogs reunion

what: funk, reggae, ska, calypso

where: Pinch Penny Pub Beer Garden / Copper Dragon Brewing Company


when: Saturday, September 3

Crooked Vines: Bringing N’Awlins Funk to Little Egypt

Venues & Businesses
Tres Hombres

Who: Crooked Vines
What: funk, pop, soul
When: 2016-08-20
Bust out the dancing shoes— the Crooked Vines will perform Saturday, August 20 at Tres Hombres.
Brett Haynes
Video Comentary

Bust out the dancing shoes— the Crooked Vines will perform Saturday, August 20 at Tres Hombres.

The Crooked Vines are a New Orleans, Louisiana-based funk-pop-soul-rock band whose music carries a hefty, positive, infectious vibe. The band consists of Mikayla Braun on vocals and keys, Stephen Bohnstengel on bass, Woody Hill on drums, James Keene (originally from nearby Pinckneyville) on trombone, Lori LaPatka on alto sax, and Steven Schwartz on tenor sax and keys.

Two years on the scene and one album into the game, they came out of the gates strong and keep pushing. Check out their self-titled independent album on their website at <>. The band will crowdfund their sophomore album.

It’s not all smiles and sunshine in the music of the Crooked Vines, however. There is a diversity in theme, an emotional dynamic that many party-funk-rock bands lack. Check out the track “Kill Me Now” for a taste of this.

Nightlife caught up with Keene and Schwartz for the following interview.

You guys have a very positive vibe. If you had to pick one message for your music, what is it?

Keene: That life is worth living. There are a lot of terrible things that happen all around us that I’ve always found very hard to comprehend. Music has always been my sanctuary in which I can not only find ways to process my feelings about these occurrences, but also rejuvenate myself in a way that gives me a refreshed outlook. If our music can open even one person’s eyes to the overwhelming amount of beautiful things that are also happening all around us, music in general being one of them, then I think we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do.

How is the scene in New Orleans? Tell us a bit about it.

Keene: The scene in New Orleans is great, especially for an up-and-coming act like us. Lots of people talk about New Orleans as an incubator for bands, and we’ve all experienced that firsthand. When this project started, about four years, four band names, and seven members ago, it was just a cover band that was trying to make some extra dough. Now, after many personnel changes and some terrible band names, we’ve landed on something that is really clicking, and I think the city of New Orleans played a huge part in that. There are very few places in the world where you can go through such fluctuation and still gig through it, all the while developing who you are as an individual musician as well as who you are as a collective.

What is your favorite venue you have ever played?

Keene: I think that we would all agree that Tipitina’s in New Orleans is our favorite spot. The artists that have graced that stage with their presence is literally obscene. The fact that we’ve been able to play that stage three times already, starting on one of their infamous Homegrown Nights and then being able to open for our friend and colleague John Gros, formerly of Papa Grows Funk, two more times, has really been a blessing. We’ll be making our fourth appearance there as part of this tour, opening up for Big Sam’s Funky Nation.

Where did the inspiration for “Kill Me Now” come from?

Schwartz: It was a melding of different points in my life. The chorus lyrics and music came many years ago, but the verse section came later. The ending was just a neat progression that I liked. The actual content of the lyrics came from my frustration that friends of mine kept dying from overdoses or other reasons that caused deaths in people who were too young.

The Tim in the song really did overdose and die, although he represented more than just himself. The words “Kill Me Now” aren’t actually asking someone to kill me now, it’s more sardonic in the sense that I’m frustrated and don’t know what to say— “Oh, just kill me now, dammit.”

Why do you play music?

Keene: To have a platform that I can use to create positive change. I think that’s my goal in life in its entirety. I’ve always thought of myself as a catalyst for positive change, and I think with the right platform, we as a band could change a lot of people’s outlook on life for the better.

If your music was an eighties movie, what movie would it be and why?

Schwartz: The mentality and soundtrack of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets the soundtrack of Weird Science. The idea that everyday should be lived to its fullest and that we are given gifts to enjoy but twisted by Oingo Boingo and Danny Elfman to be weird. That being said, Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield may sum that up.

What’s next?

Keene: To be super cliché, world domination. But really, though, I think we’d love to continue in the same direction that we’re going. Recording this next record, promoting it, releasing it, touring on it, and just seeing where that takes us. We’ve kinda found out that pretty much any plans you make are pretty useless, because the world doesn’t really give a shit about your plans. We’re going to keep dong what we’re doing and doing our best to hit the pitches that come our way.

What has been the most fulfilling moment in your music career?

Keene: This past carnival season, Mardi Gras, we played a show at Tipitina’s opening up for a supergroup that included George Porter Jr., Cyril Neville, John Gros, Eric Krasno, and some other awesome players for an event called Karnival Kickoff. This was our second time playing the venue. After we played our set, we went back up to the green room and were hanging out and George and Cyril walk out of the other green room on their way to the stage and George says something along the lines of, “Hey guys, really dig your sound. Can’t want to see where you all end up,” and Cyril just nods his head with his sunglasses on. All I remember thinking for the rest of the night was “Damn, the dude that helped write ‘Cissy Strut,’ arguably the most covered instrumental song ever, said he dug my band’s music, and I’m pretty sure one of the Neville Brothers agreed with him.” If I wouldn’t have been sitting there, I wouldn’t have believed it.

What are you looking forwards to as an artist in 2016?

Keene: Frank Ocean’s new record! Come on, dude, release the thing already! But seriously, I’m looking forward to putting out what I would say is the best music that I’ve ever been involved in creating on record. I really think this record we’re about to record could change some people’s lives, and that’s really exciting.

Do you remember what about music inspired you to start pursuing it?

Keene: I remember sitting in my room blasting the music of the day and feeling things and thinking about things that I had never experienced before, and just always knew that I wanted to do that. I wanted to give someone insight on a situation that they were dealing with, or a way to cope with something that they otherwise couldn’t, just like all those bands used to do for me. There’s something really intimate and special about taking an emotion and translating it into words. I started writing what I called poetry at about age eleven. By thirteen or fourteen I realized they were song lyrics, and I was in my first band by fifteen. I’ve been going strong ever since.

Anything you want to promote or say?

Keene: If you support us, or any band or artist for that matter, buy their record/product! I believe that art should be accessible to everyone, but I also believe that artists should be able to pay their rent. If they can’t, there won’t be any more art to support, and that will be a dark day.

who: Crooked Vines

what: funk-pop-soul-rock

where:        Tres Hombres


when:         Saturday, August 20

Todd Herreman: An SIU Professor Remembers Prince

When the news broke that Prince had died last week at his home at the age of fifty-seven, SIU profes
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

When the news broke that Prince had died last week at his home at the age of fifty-seven, SIU professor Todd Herreman had just heard his duet with Sheila E., “A Love Bizarre,” over the restaurant speakers.

“She was around a lot during the time I was working with [Prince],” Herreman said.

That and other memories have been coming back to him ever since, as Herreman recalled his days recording and touring with the late legendary musician.

After graduating from Indiana University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in music, Herreman knew he did not want to become a concert pianist. He settled for a position in retail at a music store north of Chicago that specialized in higher-end digital technology that was beginning to emerge at the time.

One of those then state-of-the-art products was the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument, a digital-sampling synthesizer. Herreman sold one of these $35,000 instruments to Prince, and later he received a call from Prince’s managers needing a list of people who could run it. Herreman was the guy.

The rest is history.

“The short answer is, I was in the right place at the time and I was in the position to say yes,” Herreman said.

Herreman started working for Prince the same day that “Kiss” was released as a single. He worked and toured with him for a year, and one of the traits he remembers about the musician is his incredible work ethic and ability to play so many instruments.

“I think he was the hardest working man in show business,” he said. “It was nothing for us to go on three-day marathons in the studio. Or get a page at three in the morning, saying: ‘God gave Prince a groove. Time to go back into the studio.’”

Since Prince could reportedly play as many as twenty-seven different instruments, Herreman said working in the studio could be a difficult because the pace was so rapid.

“He worked so fast and so hard. It was tough to keep up with him,” he said. “But you just kind of anticipate his next move.”

Herreman also recalled Prince as an occasional prankster who loved to laugh, and an incredible athlete who would usher in equipment from local stores for a pickup softball game or play basketball in heels. Yes, just like in the Chappelle skit.

Herreman said he also matched the singer in ping-pong, even securing a win now and again.

“That’s my claim to fame,” he said. “I’ve beaten Prince at ping-pong.”

Herreman said he considered Sign o’ the Times, the platinum album he worked on with Prince, as the “artistic pinnacle” of the musician’s career, a true showcase of the artist at his unique writing stage of fusing funk and pop with rock ‘n’ roll. (Herreman is credited as “Todd H.” on the track “Housequake.”)

Knowing how hard Prince had worked thirty years ago, Herreman said he is sure there is a vault of unheard of music.


“If he was working as hard as he did then, he would have thousands [of unreleased recordings],” Herreman said.

Magic Beans: Growing Colorado Spacefunk-Ameritronica-Groove Grass

Venues & Businesses
Hangar 9

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ClusterPluck: Homegrown Harmonies and Fresh Morning Melodies

Who: Magic Beans / ClusterPluck
What: Americana
When: 2015-10-03
The Magic Beans, a four-piece progressive jam band hailing from Nederland, Colorado, will perform Sa
Brett Haynes
Video Comentary

The Magic Beans, a four-piece progressive jam band hailing from Nederland, Colorado, will perform Saturday, October 3 at the Hangar 9.

Self-described as a spacefunk-Ameritronica-groove grass band, these guys (Scott Hachey on guitar and vocals, Josh Appelbaum on bass, Casey Russell on keys, and Cody Wales on drums) move. The Magic Beans are currently wrapping up their Summer Jams tour, which is winding itself into early fall.

The Colorado jam influence is noticeably prevalent in their music, echoing hints of the String Cheese Incident and the Yonder Mountain String Band. The fusion aspect of their sound, however, sets them apart from the standard. The Magic Beans are heavy on the acoustic-jam side, but can turn on a dime to funk up an audience. Take, for instance, “Mountain Sky,” which is at its essence a newgrass jam. The synth weaves in and out of the acoustic instruments as if a curious, funkified alien got dropped into the mix.

The Magic Beans seamlessly infuse multigenre elements in and out of their songs throughout their live set. Speaking of which, all of their live shows are available for free streaming and download at <>. They have more than thirty releases available, some live and some studio recordings.

The Magic Beans also hosted a festival, Beanstalk, in the beautiful Colorado mountains. It sold out this year.

Nightlife caught up with Scott Hachey to chat a bit about the history and the future of the band.

How did you guys meet, and how long have you been playing together?

We met in Boulder, Colorado, through the local live music scene five years ago. We started jamming together for fun. We were in college and threw some pretty big parties at our house up in the canyon. We’d play music and people would love it, so we started a band. Then we’d play more parties and eventually venues.

Why do you release all of your music for free?

The music industry has changed and it’s important for people to be able to jam your music. It’s hard to convince people to pay for a band coming up when they haven’t heard you. Free music has a way of getting around and then people can come to the shows. We do sell our studio albums for money, but all our live shows are free. Everything should be free, I think, but that’s not how it is, ya know?

Are you planning on releasing a new studio album any time soon?

We’ll be going into the studio in December. There [is] no release date right now because we don’t wanna pressure ourselves to finish. When it’s ready, we’ll release it, hopefully in spring.... We’ll be doing a one-day studio thing in [New York City] this week. We might release it as an EP.

How do you feel about the influx of midwesterners to Colorado?

It’s a funny phenomenon. Myself and Casey Russell, our keyboardist, are Minnesota transplants. There’s lots of other midwestern people out in Colorado. It’s cool cause I like our good ol’ midwestern values.

How has the tour been going?

Tour has been great. We’ve gone from coast to coast of this great nation and I’m happy to say there are some good folks out there who like to have a good time. It’s a pleasure to meet everyone and share our music with them.

Who are some of your major influences who do not at all sound like how you sound?

We really like Ween, D’angelo, John Hartford, Jason Isbell, Hiatus Kaiyote, John Scofield, Pink Floyd, lots of stuff.

How does your songwriting process usually work?

We write songs individually and bring them to the group to kinda make them come to life. It’s a fairly open process, but myself and Casey write the songs.

What has been the most fulfilling moment in your music career?

This year’s Beanstalk Festival was the best weekend of my entire life. It’s our annual festival, and this year was just incredible. Sold out, up in the mountains with everyone getting down. Our team is the best, and it was amazing to share that with all 1,500 people that came out.

What is it about music that makes you want to play?

Everything. It’s science, art, math, patterns, emotion, and just all encompassing. It’s a universal language that anyone can understand. It’s magic.

Do you remember what about music inspired you to start pursuing it?

I remember just listening to the classic-rock channel in my hometown and I knew every word of all the songs when I was ten. I loved guitar solos and could remember them all, too. One day me and my dad were jamming Dire Straits and I was just like, ‘I want a guitar,’ and that was that. I loved playing and have been writing songs since middle school.

If your music was an animated television show, which would it be and why?

It’d be Rick and Morty because it’s irreverent and fun. We explore different worlds and goof around all while entertaining people with shenanigans.

If you could live the life and career of any musician living or dead other than yourself who would it be and why?

It’s gotta be Jerry Garcia. [laughs] May be cliché, but that guy had one hell of a life and inspired a lot of people.

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Just play as much a possible. Meet some kids that like to play, too, and just get down on it. Have the best time ever, ‘cause music is great. Don’t get hung up on who is the best. Be original and put your soul into it, because no one can deny that.

who: Magic Beans / ClusterPluck

what: Americana

where: Hangar 9


when: Saturday, October 3

Chicago Funk Mafia: In-your-face, Free-your-ass Funk


Venues & Businesses
Hangar 9

More Articles
Spread: Music-scene Alumni Return to Record a Live Album
Spread: Making a Nice Jam
Spread: Psychedelic Rockers Returns to the ‘Dale

Who: Chicago Funk Mafia / Mouth
What: funk
When: 2015-09-18
An up-and-coming band from Chicago is setting the stage for a funky mission: to let the good times r
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

An up-and-coming band from Chicago is setting the stage for a funky mission: to let the good times roll.

The Chicago Funk Mafia invades the Hangar 9 with Mouth this Friday, September 18. The progressive-metal funk band promises to produce an intergalactic good time, delivering a party atmosphere that will set feet in motion and, they say, “free your ass.”

Started just a couple years ago, the Chicago Funk Mafia was formed after saxophonist Marty Gierczyk and others attempted to piece together a funk band to begin gigging around the city.

“We knew we wanted to create a funk band,” Gierczyk told Nightlife, “so we just began looking at the musicians we knew and who was available, and [after that] who we wanted to join in.”

The funky lineup includes Gierczyk, Christian Barnes on lead vocals, Dustin Borlack on drums, Max Cameron Mauer on keyboards, Mike Mongoven on guitar, Maurice Cade on trombone, Edwin Martinez on trumpet, and Jason Sleaze Segal on bass.

Gierczyk, Cade and Martinez make up the dynamite Made Men horn section, a combo that produces a powerful punch in the Mafia’s musicianship.

The Chicago Funk Mafia finds inspiration in many different places, some obvious (the Undercover Brother soundtrack, Chaka Khan, and David Bowie) and others (Pantera, Beethoven the film, and Captain Planet and Tennille). Gierczyk said much of the all-over-the-place list resembles the kind of carefree attitude adopted by the band. Just as the group invites audiences to break through party limitations and let the good times roll, the Chicago Funk Mafia also do not want to set boundaries on the kind of music they play.

“We like to say that we are a funk band, but that’s not all there is,” Gierczyk said. “We don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves as one specific type. We can come up with something completely different.”

They clearly have fun and work well together. Tracks like “#WookLove” drip with the sexy synchronicity one would expect in a tune professing admiration for a dirty, bath-skipping Wookie.

Whether it’s Mongoven’s explosive guitar work on the bridge or the brilliant brass in the Made Men section, the Chicago Funk Mafia’s songs all have a designated area in which the feet report to the dance floor. Even the slower-paced, doomed-love tune “La Tormenta” features dueling guitar and horn solos that build to a fitting climax with Barnes’s tortured vocals singing “I can’t bear to be here, can’t bear to be there, restless with worry and fear.”

Gierczyk said the Chicago Funk Mafia wants to begin a new touring schedule that will take the band for the first time outside the Midwest.

Gierczyk, who also performs in the psychedelic rock phenomenon Spread (a band that started in Southern Illinois before moving north), said the Chicago Funk Mafia is looking forward to returning to the ‘Dale this weekend.

“We’re really excited to come back to Carbondale,” Gierczyk said. “Last time we were there at the Hangar, we opened for Manic Squeeze, and we had a really good time. We can’t wait to do it again.”

For more information, search for the Chicago Funk Mafia on Facebook, and listen tracks from their debut EP on Sound Cloud.

who: Chicago Funk Mafia / Mouth

what: funk

where: Hangar 9


when: Friday, September 18

Jungle Dogs Reunion 2015: Still Kicking the School Year off With a Real Party

Jungle Dogs

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Venues & Businesses
Copper Dragon, The
Pinch Penny Pub

More Articles
Jungle Dogs Reunion 2013: A Quarter Century of Music, Memories, and Fun
Jungle Dogs Reunion 2014: A Wild Carbondale Party Tradition Continues
Jungle Dogs Reunion Concert 2012: Together Again for a Party, Nostalgia, and Cold Beer
Jungle Dogs: Returning to Reopen Their Own Back Yard
Jungle Dogs: SIU’s Party-school Image Incarnate

Who: Jungle Dogs reunion show
What: party rock, funk, ska, reggae
When: 2015-09-05
In Carbondale, few traditions are as anticipated or as celebrated as the annual Jungle Dogs reunion
Jeff Hale
Video Comentary

In Carbondale, few traditions are as anticipated or as celebrated as the annual Jungle Dogs reunion concert on Labor Day weekend. Carbondale’s favorite party band will once again come together Saturday, September 5 in Pinch Penny Pub’s beer garden. The rain location is the Copper Dragon Brewing Company.

“We’re really looking forward to this,” Jungle Dogs trumpeter and legendary frontman and party master D. Ward tells Nightlife. “This is the fifth year in a row that we’ve done it. It’s so great to have the people down at Pinch Penny that let us do this every year. It’s gotten to the point where everybody just knows it’s going to happen, and sets this weekend aside and looks forward to it.”

Fans are looking forward to the appearance of a legend and legacy on the Carbondale music and party scene.

In 1987, this group came together to create an infectious and unforgettable blend of ska, pop, reggae, and jazz that soon became as much of a weekend staple on the Carbondale bar scene as cold beer and pizza by the slice. Almost every Friday or Saturday, huge audiences would seek out the club where the Dogs were playing, and the party that ensued would make Mardi Gras look like a quilting class.

The legend and legacy that is the Jungle Dogs continued throughout the 1990s, with new legions of fans flocking to concerts every year. The Carbondale experience was not complete without at least one Jungle Dogs concert, and countless graduates celebrated educational milestones to the band’s music.

The Jungle Dogs party train surged down the tracks until 2004, when growing families and diverse career paths prompted the group— saxophone player Klaus “Rock the House” Bank, bass player Eddie Chapa, trombone player Larry Daly, trumpet and keyboard player Keith Huffman, drummer John Hunter, percussionist Matt Linsin, trombone and keyboard player Jim Owens, guitarist Dan Schingel, and D. Ward— to cease live performing.

Fast forward six years to Labor Day weekend 2010 at Pinch Penny, and the band that rocked Carbondale for seventeen years came back better than ever. The Jungle Dogs reunited, not only with each other, but with the fans that had made them a household name in Southern Illinois— not to mention some of their fans’ children, and in some cases their grandchildren. After that night, there could be little question that the Jungle Dogs Labor Day reunion show had to become a yearly event.

Although the band now only plays together once a year, for Ward and the rest of the guys in the band, their love for the music and the idea of seeing generations of fans keeps them coming back to Pinch Penny year after year.

“Time goes by so fast,” Ward says. “It seems like we’ve slowed down a little bit. Obviously, we don’t play as much as we used to. I wish we could get to play a little bit more, but obviously circumstances don’t allow for that. Like they say, time flies when you’re having fun. But the show at Pinch is always a great time for us.”

Ward likens the infrequency of the Jungle Dogs’ reunions to the time before video, when The Wizard of Oz could only be seen on television once a year.

“I know that I always look forward to it,” he laughs. “I still get a little bit nervous before we go up there to play, but that always seems to go away. Back in the day, we were playing just about every weekend, or at least once or twice a month. Now, with the once-a-year thing, I think everybody does probably look a little more forward to it. But I always looked forward to playing no matter how often it was. I always appreciated being able to get up there with the boys and do our thing. It was always a great time.”

A great time is the name of the game for the Jungle Dogs and what they have delivered to their fans for almost thirty years. Ward says that although the city that was the group’s creative birthplace has undergone many metamorphoses, the band’s original mission has remained the same. This continues to keep their legions of original fans, and their flocks of new ones, coming to Pinch every Labor Day weekend.

“Carbondale has changed a lot since we started, as far as the number of clubs that have live music,” Ward says. “I don’t think there are nearly as many as there used to be. I would love to be able to come back and play a little bit more, or even be back on the road a little bit. The main thing we had, and the original idea from the very beginning, was the idea of having fun— to break down that wall between the band and the crowd. We just wanted to be creative and do our thing, and it is always about having a good time, us and the audience. We have tried to keep that tradition going for the past five years at Pinch. I guess if you’ve got a good thing like that going, you just try to keep it going. Even if it is only once a year.”

One cannot help but marvel at how almost three decades have elapsed since the Jungle Dogs first took to a Carbondale stage. Ward finds it hard to believe that the years have passed so quickly, but says that their music has remained ageless, and that for the Dogs, the fans remain the driving force behind their love for performing.

“It seems like a long time ago, and yet it doesn’t,” he muses. “But that’s the way with everything. It’s like life— it just goes by so fast. What a great run we’ve had.”

It may be impossible for anyone who came of age or went to college in Carbondale between 1987 and 2004 to believe that people in town today have not heard of the Jungle Dogs, but no doubt they exist and are looking fun. Ward says they should definitely consider making a stop at Pinch Penny, because what they will find is not just a concert, but a party that draws in generations with music that will just plain make people feel great.

“Every year,” Ward says, “we always start out with the older crowd, the ones that have followed us over the years. Some of them stay for the entire night, and that’s great. But as the night goes on, you start to see younger and younger faces. Last year I noticed there were a lot of young people that were seeing us for the first time. They really seemed to get into the spirit of it, and that’s just the way it happened with us when we were all that age thirty years ago. If a bunch of old guys like us can win over a young crowd like that, you know there’s got to be something fun that’s happening; something that everybody can enjoy.

“I would just like to say that they should come out and see something different,” Ward concludes. “It’s not going to be your every-night evening at Pinch. If you really want to kick the school year off with a real party, there’s no better band to do it with, still to this day, than the Jungle Dogs.”

Find out more at <http//>.

who: Jungle Dogs reunion show

what: party rock, funk, ska, reggae

where: Pinch Penny Pub Beer Garden / Copper Dragon Brewing Company


when: Saturday, September 5

Charles Walker Band: Neo-Funk for the Next Sunset

The Charles Walker Band brings an ever-evolving sound Thursday, July 16 to the Shryock Auditorium st
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

The Charles Walker Band brings an ever-evolving sound Thursday, July 16 to the Shryock Auditorium steps. The neo-funk sounds of this Milwaukee-based quintet are richly grounded in blues, yet Walker and his band dabble in the fusion of funk, rhythm and blues, and Motown.

Walker said he has been a student of music most of his life. He has played the saxophone since he was in sixth grade and continued training throughout college, participating in the prestigious University of Wisconsin Eau Claire jazz program.

The Charles Walker Band began in 2004 as a blues project. The group includes Walker on lead vocals, saxophone, and keyboards; Porsche Carmon on lead vocals and congas; Nasty Nate P. on guitar; the Sledgehammer on bass; and Melanie Means on drums.

Walker said the band has made a name for itself as a hardworking, high-energy group.

“It’s about getting out there and putting on a show, and making sure other people come out and enjoy it too,” Walker said.

Walker explained that growing up a music fan and listening to Motown and other influences has helped reshape the band as a neo-funk force.

“It has been an evolutionary process,” Walker said.

The Charles Walker Band received a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award in 2013 for Best Soul and Rhythm and Blues Act. That same year, the group’s music video— the sultry, derriere-appreciating “Soul Deep”— hit more than two-million views. The Charles Walker Band was also voted the number-one soul act in Wisconsin on Reverb Nation in 2013.

Capping off such a year was no easy feat, but the band’s eighth and latest recording, 2014’s Ghetto Prophet, is an eclectic thrill ride. The out-of-this-world horn section beckons to the dancer in us all.

In his band bio, Walker said of the EP, which was released on Ehlona Records: “‘One in a Million,’ where the title of the album comes from, tells the story we know can happen. That of the child who grows up impoverished and becomes something great. In this album, I again departed further in funk and Motown while remembering it’s 2015.”

Walker summed up his plans for the future by referencing a motto he and his bandmates see everytime they get together. It serves as a reminder of where they’ve been and where they’re going: “The Charles Walker Band is a household name loved by fifty-million people worldwide. We have been reinventing the game of soul music. We are a world-class act.”

It’s about music. It’s about reinventing soul. And it’s about gaining more fans each time they play.

“We have this saying on the wall in our practice space,” he said. “It’s kind of like our mantra as we go forward.”

For more information, check out <>.

who: Charles Walker Band

what: Sunset Concerts (funk)

where: Steps of Shryock Auditorium


when: Thursday, July 16

Archnemesis: Electro Hip-hop Soul

Venues & Businesses
Hangar 9

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Archnemesis: Classically Trained Electronic Funk

Who: Archnemesis / MedusA
What: electronic dance music showcase
When: 2015-05-09
Archnemesis locks and loads Saturday, May 9 into the Hangar 9 with MedusA also performing. The elect
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

Archnemesis locks and loads Saturday, May 9 into the Hangar 9 with MedusA also performing. The electro musician is a head-trip recipe, blending dance songs with soul and hip-hop elements sprinkled inside a smooth, danceable track, complete with lightshows and a highly energetic atmosphere.

Since 2009, Archnemesis (real name: Curt Heiny) has prided himself on being in a constant state of evolution. Classical training on the cello and piano was only the beginning for Heiny. He later went on to learn jazz theory and composition and then branched out to learn bass, drums, and guitar.

Heiny explained that he had worked in a band but found that the solo route provided him with a career that was more in tune with himself as a musician.

“It allowed me a lot more freedom,” Heiny said. “You wouldn’t think that it would, but it just let me explore a bit more.”

When he isn’t on the road, Archnemesis is working on his next release, and his catalogue includes numerous EPs, remixes, and collaborations. In 2010, critics and fans both responded well to his debut EP Diamonds and Glass. Remixed versions of Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle” and the xx’s “Do You Mind?” charted.

Other songs that have been given the Archnemesis treatment include the Disclosure and Sam Smith tune “Latch,” the Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri song “Welcome to Atlanta,” and the Snoop Dogg and T-Pain track “Boom.”

In April, Archnemesis dropped his latest remix of the Fetty Wap song “Trap Queen.” By slowing it down just a smidge, Archnemesis thinks the song’s seventy and 140 beats-per-minute sections flow better.

“It gave it a nice push-and-pull feel,” Heiny said.

Heiny mentioned that forthcoming releases will go in a new direction.

“It’s a little bit different,” he said. “I’m from the South, so it’s got a bit of that feel. The new stuff is rooted in hip-hop and particularly dirty south. And it also has a few more elements in it, too, like something from Trapt.”

While many in the music industry take a stand against file-sharing, Archnemesis has a different approach— he doesn’t charge for his releases.

“I just really believe that it should remain free and be available for people who want to listen to it,” Heiny said.

For more information, check out <>.

who: Archnemesis / MedusA

what: DJ showcase

where: Hangar 9


when: Saturday, May 9

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