Eddie Roberts has had a truly busy 2018. As the fan-favorite guitarist for the globally renowned funk project, The New Mastersounds, Roberts has toured the United States and Europe, with the English band returning to play the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre this summer for the first time in over a decade. Furthermore, Roberts’ new project, Matador! Soul Sounds—a captivating funk-soul-jazz-fusion act led by Roberts and Soulive drummer Alan Evans and featuring keyboardist Chris Spies, bassist Kevin Scott, and vocalists Kimberly Dawson (Pimps of Joytime), and Adryon de León (Orgone)—has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame since debuting at Brooklyn Comes Alive in 2017, with the band debuting across Europe and dozens of new markets in the United States and releasing their first-ever studio album, Get Ready, in March.
While these bands continue to captivate fans and earn critical praise around the world, Eddie Roberts has stayed hungry. As evidenced by his work with The New Mastersounds and Matador! (as well as his all-star tribute to Blue Note guitarist Grant Green), Roberts has proved himself as a force within the soul, funk, and jazz worlds. Now, Roberts is putting this expansive passion, talent, and knowledge to work, stepping into the role of producer and executive for a new record label and multi-media platform he’s launching in Denver dubbed Color Red.
With Denver increasingly becoming a mecca for high-profile musicians, already, Color Red has made huge waves in the local Colorado music scene. While Roberts’ own Matador! Soul Sounds was the first artist picked up by the label, in the short time since launching, the label has worked with some of the best artists in Colorado and beyond, releasing music from a new project from Eddie, Robert Walter, and Adam Deitch called W.R.D.; Denver hometown funk heroes of Analog Son; and Sophistakits, yet another supergroup with Roberts, Eric McFadden, Miles Tacket, Wally Ingram, and Jeff Franca.
To celebrate this massive achievement, on Friday night, Denver’s beloved independent dual-room music hall, Cervantes’, hosted Color Red’s official launch party, which also served as the record release party for Analog Son’s fourth full-length studio album, Funky Mother. With two rooms of non-stop music, the celebration was, by all means, a massive success, with Color Red showing off its roster of high-caliber collaborators and curating a truly special evening for fans and friends.
One thing that stood out across the night was the virtuosic abilities of those tapped for the show, highlighting the truly wicked collection of talent on-hand for the launch. With both Cervantes’ Other Side and Masterpiece Ballroom hosting simultaneous sets, the crowds ebbed and flowed between both rooms (and the patio at the beginning of the night for the opening set from FreeBear, featuring Patrick McDevitt, Gabriel Mervine, and a number of other local favorites), with fans hoping to catch as much of each act as possible. Frequently, the call to tear away from one room and check out another was exceedingly difficult, made all the more challenging given that each band easily distinguishing itself with vastly different performances while still falling in the funk- and soul-rooted sensibilities of the aesthetic curated by Color Red.
Matador! Soul Sounds offered up a characteristic funk-fueled, energetic set. The all-star instrumentalists in the group have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with, offering up tight-laced improvisations, explosive solos, and propulsive and contagious grooves. With the female vocal duo of Kimberly Dawson and Adryon de León at the band’s helm, the pair stunned the audience with their individual vocal acrobatics and wicked harmonies. Perhaps what could be considered the climax of the night, during the group’s headlining set, red confetti rained from the ceiling, driving the crowd into a frenzy, though never ceasing up as they continued to work through what have become fan-favorites off their new album, including an encore of the riotous “Covfefe”, named after 45’s Twitter blunder last year.
Matador! Soul Sounds
Analog Son was clearly in a celebratory mood, as the band offered up a high-energy performance honoring the release of their brand-new album, Funky Mother, which came out on Friday. The band, which is led by sizzling guitarist Jordan Linit and SunSquabi bassist Josh Fairman, is a collection of sensational musicians from the Denver area, with the group welcoming out a number of collaborators from over the years to join them in the celebration. Obviously, music from the new album was on display across their set, highlighting the growth this band has seen over the years, though Analog Son was not afraid to deviate from their more classic catalog, with songs from The Beatles—”We Can Work It Out” and “Got To Get You Into My Life”—also making the cut. The band—also featuring guest percussionist, String Cheese Incident‘s Jason Hann, in addition to Devon Parker and Ashley Niven (vocals), Eric Luba (keyboards), George Horn (drums), Will Trask (percussion), Mike Chiesa (tenor saxophone), and Gabe Mervine (trumpet)—pulled out all the stops for the show, cementing them as a band to watch coming out of the Front Range.
Congo Sanchez was another delightful highlight of the evening. Led by Thievery Corporation‘s Jeff Franca, the band featured Franca on percussion alongside former Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Bird‘s guitarist Sasha Brown and two jaw-droppingly talented and mesmerizing MCs and vocalists, Flex Mathews and Halie Supreme. Sasha’s more shred-heavy sensibilities with his fiery guitar riffs surprisingly worked perfectly alongside the MCs’ performances, and Franca’s next-level rhythm keeping offered a rock-solid foundation on which the band could build. With Flex and Halie frequently jumping into the audience, it was one of the most crowd-interactive performances of the evening, and the audience lapped up the performance as it unfolded.
Both Quantic, RECESS, and Nobide were also on hand on Friday night for DJ sets. Of note, Quantic’s crowd-pleasing performance ran through a diverse track list that ran the gamut through world music and more classic club-friendly hits. Often laidback, the DJs set would settle into deep house beats, allowing the crowd to glide on the easy rhythms before gracefully into more steady and propulsive tracks. The world-renowned DJ’s presence on the lineup also served as a palate cleanser, creating a perfect contrast to the high-energy funk championed by the other artists on the lineup.
After Matador! Soul Sounds wrapped up with their headlining set in the Masterpiece Ballroom, fans flooded into the Other Side for the last set of the night: a performance from the Color Red All Stars. A perfect cap to the evening, the super jam brought back musicians from the varied bands on the bill for a final time. For this joyful celebration, members of SunSquabi, Thievery Corporation, and String Cheese Incident invited up friends and led the rotating all-star crew through more classic funk and soul fare, energizing the packed room and again highlighting Color Red’s dynamic stable of collaborators.
If Friday night’s launch party is any indication, Color Red has situated itself as a true force in the Denver music industry and beyond. With an exceedingly talented cast of supported already behind the label, the sky’s the limit for Color Red, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the future hold for this new endeavor from Eddie Roberts. For more information, head to Color Red’s website here.