[UPDATE 3/2/21]: Ahead of the March 2021 edition of The Funk Sessions, revisit this summer 2019 edition of the all-star funk residency featuring a surprise sit-in from Phish bassist Mike Gordon on Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon”.
The Funk Sessions return to Denver’s Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom on March 11th and 12th featuring members of Turkuaz, The Motet, Lettuce, Jimmy Herring and The 5 of 7, The Main Squeeze, and The Nth Power. For tickets to the socially-distant shows (one early show and one late show per night), head here.
[Originally published 8/31/19]: Following Phish‘s first of three nights at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO on Friday night, late-night revelers made their way to Denver’s Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom for a special, sold-out, late-night edition Live For Live Music‘s monthly residency, The Funk Sessions—appropriately billed as the Phunk Sessions. In addition to the billed lineup of killer musicians, Phish’s Mike Gordon stopped by to play a song with the talented crew.
Led by legendary The Meters bassist George Porter Jr., the one-time-only band was rounded out by organ master Robert Walter (Mike Gordon, 20th Congress, Greyboy Allstars), Turkuaz members Michelangelo Carubba (drums), Craig Brodhead (guitar), and Shira Elias (vocals), and The Motet members Lyle Divinsky (vocals), Drew Sayers (sax), and Parris Fleming (trumpet).
After a show-opening instrumental jam on The Crusaders‘ “Put It Where You Want It” by the core house band, Shira Elias and Lyle Divinsky emerged to lead the band on vocals for a rendition of The Jones Girls‘ 1979 hit, “You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else”. After leading the band through Parliament‘s “Do That Stuff”, Divinsky and Elias cleared the stage once again to give George Porter Jr. a chance to lead a take on The Meters classic, “I Just Kissed My Baby”. Next, Robert Walter led the way on a fan-favorite from his own catalog, “Don’t Chin The Dog”.
Lyle and Shira returned to the stage next, taking things down a notch with a smooth, soulful rendition of “Going in Circles”, the R&B classic recorded by the likes of Isaac Hayes, Luther Vandross, and more through the years. Next, the singers exited once again as the show took a turn back into classic funk territory for another extended instrumental jam on The JBs‘ “Hot Pants Road”.
As the band prepared for their next song, Robert Walter got up from behind his keyboards to let his bandmates in on a little surprise: They’d be welcoming some special guests for the next song. With that, Mike Gordon took over Porter’s bass and The Motet’s Joey Porter joined Walter on the organ for a funky rendition of Little Feat‘s “Spanish Moon” featuring vocals by Divinsky and memorable solos by Gordon, Brodhead, and Porter.
After the thrilling sit-in, Gordon and Porter made their exits as Elias once again took the stage to lead an energetic take on Aretha Franklin‘s “Rocksteady” highlighted by Walter’s impressive organ work a smooth sax solo by Drew Sayers.
Elias introduced the band next before helping lead them into Howard Tate‘s “8 Days on the Road”, which featured a sprawling blues-rock guitar solo by Brodhead. With time for one more, Divinsky took the mic once more to leave the crowd dancing with a performance of Rick James‘ “Give It To Me Baby”. Finally, George Porter Jr. led the band through an encore rendition of The Meters’ “He Bite Me”.
You can watch a video of Mike Gordon’s sit-in or enjoy a full multi-camera video of Phunk Sessions below via Ninja Video. You can also scroll down to check out a gallery of photos from the show courtesy of photographer Charla Harvey:
Phunk Sessions ft. Mike Gordon (Phish) – “Spanish Moon” [Little Feat cover, Pro-Shot]
Phunk Sessions ft. George Porter Jr., Robert Walter, Members of Turkuaz & The Motet – 8/31/19 – Full Pro-Shot Video