Monday, March 3, 2014

Frankie Beverly - Color Blind

I rarely play out much these days, but I did last night. And, maybe I'm getting old, but getting outta the car last night I realized my ears were ringing like a motherfucker. But, it was well worth it. I played alongside two fantastic bands last night and the soul and funk was alive and well in Oakland.
It was incredible really. Gene Washington and The Ironsides were incredible. Both slow soul and dance floor funk done to perfection without a blemish. The singer Gene Washington, could still really belt out his notes and did so with an amazing authenticity and true sincerity, he brought a humble realness to his performance.

Then, the Grease Traps hit the stage. Looked to be an instrumental band, and I hear that's how they started..but, then the man known only as Gata hit the stage and literally set the club on it's ass end. They tore it up. Gata was the man!
Gene and the Ironsides covered Dyke and The Blazers, and did some excellent originals. The good homie Oliver Patches, of Lower Bottoms, told me March was official Dyke and The Blazers month. I like the sound of that! When Gene got into 'Let A Man Be A Man' we all realized how amazingly similar he sounded to Dyke. Grease Traps covered everything from 'I Believe In Miracles' (Jackson Sisters version of course), another Dyke song, 'The Funky Bull', and all the way to this song, 'Color Blind' by Frankie Beverly. Which, by the way sounded EXACTLY like the original. Im' sure this is not an easy feat to accomplish. Those harmonies, that break, those horn riffs. Wow, let's just say I was blown away.

Gene Washington And The Ironsides

It was an incredible night all around. 'Lower Bottoms' and 'Where It's At' DJ's playing in the first level, these two incredible bands playing upstairs. With Fernando and his 45's and yours truly playing all 45's in between the bands. It was also the 'Where It's At' 1 year anniversary and the 1 year anniversary of the Legionnaire, which by the way is turning out to be a fantastic spot. Last night was proof. And, that's coming from me, and I don't get out much these days.

The Grease Traps

The Traps playing 'Color Blind' had special meaning to me. Aside from it still being incredibly relevant of a message, it's one of my all time favorite Bay Area funk 45's. The two early Frankie 45's that I have speak volumes for what they were like as a band, and what it was like with them in the Bay Area. Of course I can't find it now, but I recently snagged a pick off of Facebook with Frankie Beverly listed as playing a weekly spot at the Keystone Club in Berkeley. The Listing read 'Frankie Beverly's Raw Soul, and to imagine them playing 'Color Blind' in Berkeley in 73-74 is just awesome. Well, you could say my dreams came partly true. When Grease Traps did this song completely and efficiently and with a whole LOT of soul, myself and the entire club were elated and with happy feet.

A heartfelt, sincere and electric performance from Gene Washington

Funny thing, the guitar player Kevin O'Dea came up to me, with a copy of their set list, before they took the stage, and said 'Try not to play any more of these' and there was 'Color Blind' at the encore location on their set list. Oops. My bad guys, I honestly did not know a few, that you guys are fuggin incredible, two, that I would be so stupid to play THAT tune, of the TWO Frankie Beverly 45's I brought, and three.. that you guys, the Grease Traps, would have the eloquence and dexterity to cover that song. And, let me say again, to perfection.
Now, the singer for Grease Traps goes by the name of Gata. Lemme just say this man brings it. If you're gonna see the Grease Traps, you are gonna see that Gata man, and you better get your wig on tight, 'cause he's pure dy-no-might. If you give him enough room on stage this cat might just turn back-over flips. Stone cold solid soul performance. all. the. way. 'round.
They also covered another big tune that I almost brought, those of you who actually read these posts (rather than just download everything) will know I just recently acquired it, but 'Bold Soul Sister, Bold Soul Brother' is another hefty tune to cover, at least well. So, hats off to both the Grease Traps and Gene Washington and The Ironsides. For funk and soul to be in Oakland, like that... in that way last night, was a sincere TREAT.

The other Frankie Beverly 45 that I almost dropped on those ears and feet was 'People In The Know' another banger on the Gregar label. Equally rare, and equally potent. Another funk grinder, with higher message included. This version of 'Color Blind' that Grease Traps covered was the early version on Gregar which is much more raw and heavy compared to the later Maze version. The later Maze version is still good, incredible in fact, but no where near the insanity that is this 45. There's a sound of a revolution in this 45.

There's another Frankie Beverly And The Butlers 45 that I really want, on the Sassy label, 'If That's What You Wanted' which is equally hard edged as these two on Gregar, but tinged in a uptempo Norther dancer fashion. It's incredible too. All of Frankie's early shit must be incredible.
Imagining Frankie Beverly and Raw Soul being in the Bay Area way back then, in local clubs to be specific, playing the likes of these tunes is a funk collectors dream. To have bands in the Bay now playing Dyke and The Blazers, and Frankie's tunes is a blessing. Right on Bay Area, kudos to you then and now.

The Grease Traps are coming your way, check em out!
Important not to forget Colemine Records as both the Ironsides and Grease Traps have put out releases on their label. Colemine has brought a tough and solid broad spectrum of funk and soul acts to vinyl. We're thankful for all these new funk families, and as a example of what these bands can bring in the LIVE environment, last night at the Legionnaire, proof is in the pudding and the pudding' was TASTY. New funk is alive and well. Thanks Colemine, you are bringing the heat.

Colemine has an arsenal of new breed funk and soul. 

Check out these bands playing live here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Gene Washington And The Ironsides are playing 
The Starry Plough on March 8th
The Hopmonk in Novato on the 15th
Amnesia Bar in SF on the 20th

The Grease Traps are playing
19 Broadway in Fairfax on March 20th
  Alpine Meadows (12-3pm) & Bar of America in Truckee (9pm-1am) on April 5th
Amnesia in SF  April 17th
Off The Grid at Ft. Mason in SF May 2nd
 Boom Boom Room in SF (w/Sure Fire Soul Ensemble) on May 17th

And, enjoy this Frankie Beverly's Raw Soul offering 'Color Blind'

Frankie Beverly - Color Blind