On Tuesday, Live for Live Music presented the third 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’s lineup centers around a host artist and a hand-picked, curated lineup of colleagues, friends, and musicians whom they admire.
Of course, it wouldn’t be The Funk Sessions without a very special surprise. At the first edition of the residency in January, the show closed with a surprise brass band second line parade through the crowd and up to the stage. In February, the first 400 people through the door got a free slice of pizza. This month, The Funk Sessions promised a very special surprise opener—which the crowd was ecstatic to discover was powerhouse Memphis quintet Southern Avenue. Check out the full video of Southern Avenue’s surprise opening set at The Funk Sessions below:
Southern Avenue – Surprise Opening Set – The Funk Sessions – 3/26/19
[Video: Jack Gould/Ninja Video]
Last night’s March edition of The Funk Sessions was hosted by Michelangelo Carubba, drummer for Brooklyn-based funk powerhouse Turkuaz. Mikey was joined by keyboardist Todd Stoops (RAQ), percussionist Jeff Franca (Thievery Corporation/Congo Sanchez), bassist Garrett Sayers (The Motet), guitarist Ryan Jalbert (The Motet), vocalist Lyle Divinsky (The Motet), saxophonist Nicholas Gerlach aka “Mr. Invoice” (Michal Menert & The Pretty Fantastics), trumpet player Gabriel Mervine (formerly of The Motet), and more for his sold-out session.
The all-star cast of musicians opened up the Tuesday night funk affair with James Brown‘s “Brother Rapp”. Mikey made it clear that he was ready to funk Denver up within the opening minutes of the show, locking into a tight-knit rhythmic groove with Sayers. The band continued in the James Brown groove as they moved forward with “Ain’t It Funky Now”, followed by Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers‘ “Bustin’ Loose”. Backed by Gerlach and Mervine’s potent horn section, Mikey and his musical comrades invited the Denver crowd to get down and boogie, with TAUK’s Isaac Teel adding some auxiliary percussion.
The band changed gears with Funkadelic‘s “Red Hot Mama”, giving Jalbert a chance to flex his chops with a series of explosive guitar solos. Divinsky and special guest Michelle Sarah dazzled the crowd with their jaw-dropping vocal prowess, alongside Mikey’s infectious snare hits from behind the kit. Up next was Earth, Wind & Fire deep cut “Kalimba Story”, highlighted by Sayers’ aggressive approach on the song’s main bass line. The band then invited up Michelle Sarah back up for a take on “I Like It” by Space Capone, a band with whom Mikey implored the crowd to get familiar.
Sold-out crowd’s energy was clearly evident as these behemoths of funk moved forward with Marvin Gaye‘s “Got To Give It Up”, which included Teel and local percussionist Will Trask lending some extra hands. Divinisky continued to shine on lead vocals, challenging himself with some high vocals before unveiling the third James Brown song of the night, “Mother Popcorn”. Gerlach and Mervine heated things up with spicy horn licks as Divinsky broke it down in a fashion that would have made the Godfather of Soul proud. Special guest Reed Mathis took over the bass duties from there as Carubba powered the band into Al Green‘s “Love and Happiness”.
The all-star squad kept on chuggin’ with “Roller”, highlighted by some spacey synth work out of Stoops’ corner and a silky-smooth saxophone solo from Gerlach. The horn-heavy vibe continued into Freddie Hubbard‘s “Red Clay”, which was followed by noteworthy renditions of Michael McDonald‘s “I Keep Forgetting”, Tower of Power‘s “What Is Hip”, and a raucous set-closing take on Funkadelic’s “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On”.
Luckily, you can watch a full pro-shot video of last night’s performance below:
Live For Live Music Presents: The Funk Sessions – 3/26/19
[Video: Jack Gould/Ninja Video]
Setlist: The Funk Sessions with Mike Carubba | Cervantes’ Other Side | Denver, CO | 3/26/2019
Set: Brother Rapp, Ain’t It Funky Now, Bustin’ Loose*, Red Hot Mama^, Kalimba Story, I Like It^, Got To Give It Up&, Mother Popcorn, Love and Happiness#, Roller, Red Clay, I Keep Forgetting, What Is Hip, Standing On the Verge Of Getting It On
*with Isaac Teel (TAUK)
^with Michele Sarah
&with Isaac Teel, Will Trask
#with Reed Mathis
Building on the excitement of last night’s sold-out blowout, Live For Live Music has announced the details for the April edition of The Funk Sessions. Lettuce/Break Science drummer Adam Deitch will host the affair with help from his Lettuce bandmate Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, The Motet bassist Garrett Sayers, and Hammond B3 organ master Wil Blades. As always, The Funk Sessions will also feature a surprise. For the April session, that surprise will come in the form of a mysterious special guest!
For more information about the upcoming April edition of The Funk Sessions, head here.