Funky Butt Brass Band: A Funky Good Time

Funky Butt Brass Band:  A Funky Good Time
Venues & Businesses
Tres Hombres

Who: Funky Butt Brass Band
What: N'Awlins funk
When: 2010-11-13
Funky Butt Brass Band: A Funky Good Time
T.J. Jones

Tres Hombres will continue its recent run of high-quality blues and jazz acts when Saint Louis's Funky Butt Brass Band performs Friday, November 13.

Voted 2010's Best Funk/Soul/Rhythm-and-Blues Band by Saint Louis's Riverfront Times, the Funky Butt Brass Band has spent the last two years playing a melodic gumbo of traditional New Orleans jazz, spiced with the kind of blues found in Saint Louis and Chicago, along with a funky and fresh vibe usually found in the best jam bands.

Singer/guitarist Tim Halpin says a trip to New Orleans changed it all for him. "I immediately responded to the cultural and musical gumbo of that city," says Halpin. "Jazz is just one part of the equation for me, and for the Funky Butt Brass Band."

Last year's Cut the Body Loose, the Funky Butt Brass Band's debut CD, is in the tradition of the second line. In New Orleans, the main line of a parade is played by the marching band, while the second line is caused by the rhythms created by participants who dance along behind the group. New Orleans-style rhythm sections often strive to recreate a second-line feel even when they're not marching in parades.

Whether hard-rocking blues guitars intermingle with horns in the CD's title track, or the thick sousaphone beats on the down-home "Bourbon Street Parade," the Funky Butt Brass Band's skill lies in the band's knowledge and love of American jazz. Engineer Tony Esterly decided to put all the band members in one room for the recording of Cut the Body Loose at Shock City Studios, a decision that Halpin says made the CD.

"[Esterly] really wanted to capture that live feel, the energy that we put into our live performances," says Halpin. "This made recording a little difficult, because there was very little margin for error since we weren't dealing with an unlimited budget. We couldn't spend more than a couple of days recording in the studio. So we burned through the recording of fourteen songs, and if we screwed up, we just started over. We recorded the vocals later, there were a couple of horn solo overdubs, and I overdubbed most of my guitar parts at Tony's home studio, but the CD does a good job of capturing that live feel."

Consisting of members of Saint Louis groups Gumbohead, the Feed, and Musica Salsa, the Funky Butt Brass Band has a roster that is as wide-ranging and free-wheeling as their music. Percussionist Ron Sikes is a band director and college percussion instructor, singer/guitarist Halpin is an executive creative director for a Saint Louis ad agency, sousaphonist Matt Brinkmann works for the Saint Louis Convention and Visitors Center, singer/saxophonist Ben Reece works at an instrument repair shop (and is also a graduate of SIU's Edwardsville campus), singer/trumpet player Adam Hucke is a music professor at Southwestern Illinois College, and singer/trombonist Aaron Chandler has played with legends like the Temptations and Rufus Thomas. The proof is in the pudding-- the Funky Butt Brass Band live and breathe music.

"I think you can't help but be influenced by what you hear around you all the time," says Halpin. "Each member brings a little something different to the party. We're always sharing cool music that we love, or new stuff that we discover. We love New Orleans music, but we wanted to craft our own sound with that as a starting point. So it's only natural that we'd bring in a more Midwestern vibe to our playing. And you can't discount the influence of the Mississippi River. Stuff just sort of flows down the river, and you pick it up along the way."

This year has seen the release of two live recordings by the Funky Butt Brass Band-- March's Live at the Bistro 3.13.10 EP and September's Funkfest Five Live. Both are only available for download from the band's website.

"We just wanted to share some of our shows, warts and all, with our friends via our website," says Halpin. "If they were at the show, it gives them something to remember. If they weren't there, it shows them what a good time they missed."

The latter's first track promises listeners a "Funky Good Time," and the band even sneaks in a few good covers in there, including James Brown's "Living in America" and a sousaphone-soaked rendition of the Bee Gees' standard "Stayin' Alive." If their two live recordings are any indication, the Funky Butt Brass Band will undoubtedly pull off a kinetic and audacious performance in a grand New Orleans via Saint Louis style.

Find out more at <>.

who: Funky Butt Brass Band

what: N'Awlins funk

where: Tres Hombres

when: Saturday, November 13