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The Pimps of Joytime Bring the Janxta Funk to Brooklyn Bowl

It has been a busy year for Brooklyn’s The Pimps of Joytime, as they have toured the country extensively, played the festival circuit,  and been writing new music along the way. Coming off a solid Fall tour, which saw them play in some new places around the country, including some hot shows in California, it was time to take one last curtain call in their own backyard at Brooklyn Bowl this past Friday night.

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Warming up the crowd on this chilly winter night for the Pimps was Heylady and Hank & Cupcakes. Heylady is a soul-funk outfit, lead by the powerful vocals of Nina Zeitlin. This girl can most definitely sing, and the rest of the band is solid. They are an up and coming local band that will catch your attention if given the opportunity. Hank & Cupcakes were interesting, to say the least. With a two-piece band made up of Hank on bass and Cupcake on vocals and drums (which she plays standing up), the music is at one point electro-pop, with a La Roux-esque vibe, and the next moment they hit you with some dirty, dance beats, with an infectious vocal to go along with it. Their set had its highs and lows, but overall kept the energy high.

The thing about The Pimps of Joytime, and really their bandleader Brian J and his musical tastes (being that Pimps is his brainchild), is that their style can be considered all over the place, mixing everything from rock to afro-beat, salsa to funk, and even little honky-tonk to serious get down dance music. It’s extremely difficult to pigeonhole this group into any one category, which is not something that always works in a band’s favor. However, with the Pimps there is a continuity to it all, as the band is able to seamlessly weave in and out of styles. Most acts that would make these bold attempts at style changes from song to song,  or even within a song itself, would get to that transitional precipice and fail miserably. Not so with the Pimps; they are one of very few acts that are deft (and even daft) enough to successfully make that happen.

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A song like “Dank Janky” has this New Orleans feel to it, you can almost hear The Meters performing the song – but, not quite, as Brian J adds these spacey, ethereal guitar licks in there that adds a whole other dimension to the track. And then you have that straight up soul-funk of “Janxta Funk” which makes it impossible to not shake that ass and sing along; it’s a song that simply gets you groovin’. “Keep That Music Playin'” keeps the dance party going, it’s got a driving beat that doesn’t stop, yet it brings you back to 1972 and Curtis Mayfield‘s Superfly.

“Bonita” makes you feel like you are on the dance floor in the middle of a hot night in the Dominican Republic; even the worst dancer somehow manages to look natural dancing a salsa and merengue. And since we have now touched upon a plethora of musical styles, why not step into the psychedelia of the 60′s with “San Francisco Bound”? And “My Gold” showcases a Prince-like falsetto from Brian J, with some Stevie Wonder Innervisions era ARP synthesizer sounds.

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It’s clear that Brian J is a child of music; his appreciation for so many different artists and eras is evident in the music he creates. However, without the solid lineup that he has backing him up, the music just wouldn’t be the same. The lovely lady duo of Mayteana Morales and Cole Williams on vocals and percussion is not just exotic and beautiful, they add depth to both the lyrics and music. David Bailis seriously holds it down on bass/keys/samples, so much so that he is the backbone of the band. And the addition of drummer John Staten, who also played for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, was a slam dunk. My man can flat out bang on the drums.

The old adage that a band is only as good as the sum of all its parts rings especially true with The Pimps of Joytime. Over the past couple of years, the group has gone through a necessary change here and there, but it now seems that everything is in its right place. Let’s hope it stays that way, because they have never sounded better.

– Chris Meyer
All photos courtesy of Allison Murphy. For a fully gallery check out her site at www.RuthRocks.com

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Check out some videos from the show, courtesy of Evan Wagner:
The Jump Off –

My Heart Is Wild –

Setlist:
Red Golden
Dank Janky
My Heart is Wild
Janxta Funk
Keep That Music Playin’
Take These Blues
The Jump Off
Cardia
Freedom Dancer
Bonita
San Francisco Bound
GFM

Encore:
My Gold
Cut Off
Body Party
Pimpin’

The Pimps of Joytime are taking the rest of 2013 off, and will start their 2014 off with the following dates:
Jan 23 Port City Music Hall Portland, ME
Jan 24 Higher Ground South Burlington, VT
Jan 25 Paradise Rock Club Boston, MA
Feb 27 Bluebird Theater Denver, CO
Feb 28 Bluebird Theater Denver, CO