Deep Banana Blackout, Fairfield Theatre Company, Fairfield, CT- 6/1
Photo by Michael Thut
“Do you want to go deeper, because the deeper you go, the higher you go” – Jen Durkin
The funk outfit, Deep Banana Blackout, satisfied an impressed sold out crowd on June 1, 2014 at the intimate Fairfield Theatre Company in Connecticut to conclude their mini 4-show spring tour.
At a DBB concert, one doesn’t require illegal enhancers to achieve their own personal and surreal “deep banana blackout.” The musical musings serve as sufficient substance to satiate one’s soul. The band is made up of experienced and professional players adept at playing various genres of music at a high level including funk, jazz, reggae and rock. The band is deeply rooted in the local area and the venue was filled with love from family, friend and long-time fans.
Once taking the stage, lead singer Jen Durkin exclaimed, “‘You are the hometown heroes.” The band broke up after a very successful run and popular appeal in the late 90’s only to reunite in 2003 in order to open up for James Brown at Gathering of the Vibes and have now become a fixture at the local festival. The band consists of James “Fuzz” San Giovanni (guitar/vocals), Eric Kalb (drums), Benj LeFevre (bass), Jen Durkin (lead vocals), Rob Somerville (sax/vocals), Rob Volo (trombone/guitar/vocals), Cyrus Madan (keyboards) and Johnny Durkin (percussion).
The night was full of highlights worthy of a second look on YouTube or listen on archive.org. The band warmed things up with an extended brass jam to commence the evening. The underpinning of the brass section is buoyed by the prowess of Rob Somerville who plays a nasty saxophone with passionate authority. Gyrating salsa rhythms drive the beginning of “Homo Lingo,” a song showcasing the band’s strengths. The bouncy beats are an impetus for a full-on danceathon underscored by majestic harmonies. The band performs the Santana influenced number as a cohesive and tight unit proving its members know each other’s tendencies after playing so long together. The breakdown is especially contagious as the band builds up to a frenzied extended guitar solo and fiery crescendo before smoothly seguing into “Mama’s Boy” offering a change of pace as lead singing vocals fell onto Giovanni for that number. DBB prove to be masters of hard-driving up-tempo improvisational funk and dance music. Lettuce, Galactic and Dumpstaphunk may currently rule the funk genre, but DBB can give them a run for their money.
The biting guitar chord progression that sets up “Bump and Sway” is a not so-subtle form of initiation to the energetic and addictive fray. The tune shows off the band’s funk chops with a deep bass sound and stellar fills on the keys. The powerful horns set the tone as the sound cascades about the very intimate venue’s walls. Another highlight was the poignant take on the Jackson Five’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” and the Jackson 5 medley that effectively paid tribute through songs like “Shake Your Body” and “Dream Machine” in an exciting and effervescent manner. Other standouts included a stellar assault on Sly and the Family Stone’s “Under Dog” and a bombastic attack of James Brown’s “Get Up Off that Thing.” The show closed like a disco inferno with their version of The Funky Meter’s “Gossip” before the barn-burner of Parliament’s “Red Hot Mama.” The energy was palpable throughout.