On Tuesday, Live for Live Music hosted the second edition of The Funk Sessions, a new monthly residency based at Denver, CO’s Cervantes’ Other Side. The Funk Sessions features a rotating cast of players from across the funk and jam scenes playing in unique and creative lineups. Each month will center around a host artist and a hand-picked, curated lineup of colleagues, friends, and musicians they admire.
February’s edition of The Funk Sessions was hosted by Shira Elias, vocalist for Brooklyn-based funk powerhouse Turkuaz. Shira was joined by drummer Jeremy Salken (Big Gigantic), keyboardist Borahm Lee (Break Science/Pretty Lights Live Band), guitarist DJ Williams (Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe/Shots Fired), bassist Dan Africano (John Brown’s Body), and trumpet player Parris Fleming (The Motet). Shira’s Turkuaz bandmate, drummer Mikey Carubba, saxophonist Nick Gerlach, vocalist Jessica Jones, and The Motet’s frontman Lyle Divinsky rotated in the setlist throughout the night that contained a plethora of funk, soul, and rock and songs.
With a powerful range and true devotion to soul and funk music, Elias has cemented herself as one of the finest vocal talents in live music. In addition to her powerhouse work with Turkuaz, she has stepped out as a frontwoman in recent years, leading the charge on projects such as her own Shira Elias’ Soul Tracks featuring Nikki Glaspie, Lyle Divinsky, Nick Cassarino, and more at this past year’s Brooklyn Comes Alive.
The all-star cast of musicians opened the night up the Tuesday affair with Marvin Gaye‘s “Inner City Blues”. Shira made it clear that she was ready to funk Denver up within the opening minutes of the show, as she belted out her lead vocals in tenacious form. Backed by Salken and Africano’s tight-knit rhythm section, the band moved forward with The Police‘s 1979 hit single “Message In A Bottle”. Although not generally perceived as a funk group, Shira and her comrades put their own spin on The Police tune.
The band changed gears with Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately”, which was followed up by Beck‘s “Nicotine & Gravy”. Shira continued to dazzle the crowd with her jaw-dropping vocal prowess before leading her bandmates into Funkadelic‘s “It’s You”. DJ Williams let it out an explosive guitar solo, as Salken set the pace into the song’s main theme. Fleming got his chance to flex his chops on trumpet before the band powered forward with Grover Washington Jr.‘s “Mister Magic”. Backed by Salken’s hard-hitting beats, Williams once again took the lead and wandered away into bluesy territory.
The Denver crowd’s energy was evident and infectious as the behemoths of funk moved forward with a snappy take on Prince‘s “When Doves Cry”, highlighted by Shira and guest vocalist Jessica Jones trading back and forth the vocal lead. Carubba subbed in for Salken on the next two songs, as Fleming and Gerlach powered the band into Earth, Wind & Fire‘s “Can’t Hide Love”, which was followed up by an upbeat take on Marva Whitney‘s “What Do I Have To Do To Prove My Love To You”. The remainder of the set included noteworthy renditions of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young‘s “Woodstock”, Michael Jackson‘s “Human Nature”, Chaka Khan’s “I Know You, I Live You”, and Stevie Wonder‘s “Living For The City”. A unique cover of Soundgarden‘s “Black Hole Sun” served as the evening’s lone encore.
The Funk Sessions – 2/26/2019
Following February’s rockin’ second edition of The Funk Sessions, the March lineup for Live For Live Music‘s monthly residency at Denver’s Cervantes’ Other Side was announced today. Set to take place on Tuesday, March 26th, the latest lineup will see Turkuaz drummer Mikey Carubba host his own hand-picked and curated group of talent from across the jam and funk scenes.
Joining the sensational drummer will be keyboardist Todd Stoops (RAQ), percussionist Jeff Franca (Thievery Corporation/Congo Sanchez), bassist Garrett Sayers (The Motet), guitarist Ryan Jalbert (The Motet), singer Lyle Divinsky (The Motet), saxophonist Nicholas Gerlach aka “Mr. Invoice” (Michal Menert & The Pretty Fantastics), and trumpet player Gabriel Mervine (formerly of The Motet).
Tickets for March’s show are on sale now via Ticketfly.
Setlist: The Funk Sessions with Shira Elias | Cervantes’ Other Side | Denver, CO | 2/26/2019
Set: Inner City Blues, Message In A Bottle, What Have You Done For Me Lately, Nicotine & Gravy, I’ll Stay, Mister Magic, When Doves Cry, Can’t Hide Love, Keep Me In My Mind, Distance, What Do I Have To Do To Prove My Love To You, Woodstock, Human Nature, I Know You, I Live You, Living For The City
Encore: Black Hole Sun