New Mastersounds, The Annex, NYC- 6/23
It was one of those nights where you felt that a scene was finally coming together. The New Mastersounds, funk legends in the European scene since 2000, They have been slowly picking up steam here in the US and it looks like their time has come. They have been touring through the west coast and Colorado and playing festivals like Wakarusa, The Dupont Jazz Festival, The Harmony Festival, Jazzfest and upcoming festivals such as High Sierra (already a favorite there) and the Grateful Fest and logging in those all important US dues.
The night was a beautiful one, people wandering around the Lower East Side and the band seemed a bit nervous with very few people showing up for the Dr. John-style opening act the Dirty Boogaloos. At around 9:00 pm (the scheduled NM start time) the place started filling with smiles and the collective sense of sharing an inside scoop.
The stage was quite small for a band notorious for dancing and even delivering that elusive tambourine solo but these guys are showmen and they knew just what to do. Simon Allen (Drummer and onstage comedian) greeted everyone and for the next two hours the place looked very similar to what it might have looked like seeing Phish at the Wetlands right before they broke. Newer songs like “Carrot Juice” (From the One Note Records release 102%), had a synchronized flute guitar part throughout that makes guitar virtuoso and bandleader Eddie Roberts smile along with saxophonist / flautist / new guy Rob Lavers. “The Minx” had Roberts blaze a solo that was surprising reminiscent of Jimmy Hendrix. Meanwhile, Pete Shand (Bassist, philosopher) was so in synch with Allen as the they smiled and challenged each other on the back beat. Joe Tatton (New keyboardist replacing Bob Birch two tours ago) filled in each hole that could be found with Hammond Organ and Rhodes.
While a strict curfew brought the two hour show to a close, it felt like they had at least another two hours in them. While many bands will finish-up and then slip off to their own little corner and the night is over, not so with these Brits who remained out in the club mingling and hanging out with those in attendance. Having drinks and signing everything they were asked to they seemed about as comfortable as an old pair of shoes.
Watch out for this band in the future. It is my hope that they break through the US and pave the way for other European funk bands like Speedometer, Lefties’ Soul Connection, The Link Quartet, and a zillion more. That will be up to promoters who have notoriously dodged funk acts and the fans who are showing they want more. The place was packed to capacity and hopefully it was a harbinger of more to come.