Guest Contributor – DJ Music Man Miles (Breakestra)

Yes, yes y’all, I hope today finds you all in good form. I’m delighted that today’s chosen piece of wax is brought to you courtesy of one of the funkiest cats I know, Mr Miles Tackett (aka Music Man Miles). As you know I had the pleasure of dj’ing alongside Miles last year at his weekly funk party Funky Sole. Before I hand you over to Miles, here’s a little bio for those of you who’d like to know a bit more about him.

Miles Tackett

Music Man Miles (aka Miles Tackett) is a Los Angeles native & in addition to being the man behind the Breakestra he is also an all VINYL, funky soul-jazz dj. Yes that’s right, no laptop computer to check facebook on in between mixes or to crash & ruin the party. Too many reasons to list why he will never go that route but suffice it to say it’s mainly about the sound quality & the ideal of keeping the wax alive. Though the early 90s Miles did buy some jazz & funk vinyl & raid his dad’s record collection to sample for hip hop beats he would make, but it was not until the early 2000’s after he had started Breakestra & had fully immersed himself in the L.A. underground hip hop dj community (mainly at his weekly Rootdown party) that he became inspired to try spinning records.

Miles Tackett

Being in the company of djs like Cut Chemist, Dj Dusk & Mixmaster Wolf of Breakestra (a dj as well) he learned the art of selecting & mixing vinyl records old & new. He also learned about a whole world of records that were not easily within a dj or collector’s reach. “Deep funk vinyl” as some folks call it because you have to dig a bit deeper to find the gems being that many are rarer records than most you’d easily find since most of them are 7 inch singles in which only 1,000 or so were ever pressed.

Miles Tackett

Even though Miles had originally started collecting funky, hip hop/beat records to spin at his weekly Rootdown hip-hop party, collecting Funky soul-jazz/afro-latin funk records had taken over as his main passion. Meeting Dj Egon of Stones Throw records (the label that released Breakestra’s first record ) inspired Miles to go to another level since Egon had a knowledge & passion for especially “deep funk” vinyl records that was beyond impressive. Egon also spun deep funk with a certain exciting style influenced by Bronx hip hop style djing that Miles dug & picked up. Cut Chemist, another peer also spun funk sounds with a precision hip hop style that equally impressed Miles. Soon Miles decided to start a party in L.A. for himself, Egon & Cut to spin these sounds at that he named FUNkY SOLE. That was 12 years ago & Miles continues to throw Funky Sole & spin funk sounds from all around every Saturday night in Los Angeles when he’s not out on tour with Breakestra. He released a Funky Sole vol.1 dj mix cd a few years ago & is working on another at present. Sole Travellin’ is what he calls it no matter where he goes..

Gene Faith - Family Man

Gene Faith – “Family Man” B side of “My Baby’s Missing” on Virtue Records (1970) Philadelphia, PA.

I’ve been rotating this uniquely funky & solidly written soul tune up at Funky Sole for many years &
never tire of it. What I noticed the first time I heard it was a very New Orleans thing going on with the drummer’s offbeat syncopation. It’s worth noting that Eddie Bo’s oh so funky off beat classic “Hook n’ Sling” was a fairly big hit on black radio stations in certain regions of the country. I know from having heard “Hook n Sling” on a thankfully recorded & preserved broadcast of Radio Dj Sonny Hopson’s soul show on WHAT from 1969 that it was in the top ten. So likely the local Philly house musicians over at Virtue recording studios were influenced when they recorded “family man” just after hearing Bo’s hit. Gene Faith’s melodic thing & vocal delivery sounds more southern here to me than on some of his other great funky northern soul oriented sides like the flip “My baby’s missing” or “Since I found you girl”.

I don’t know much about the house R.D.M. Band over at Virtue records but my ears tell me that they also recorded under the name of the Belaires (of Tony Alvon “Sexy Coffee Pot” note). The swing of the drums & off beat drum breaks seem to point to it being the same drummer at least. I’m fairly sure this also the same band as the Freedom Now Brothers who did “Sissy Walk” & the surprisingly slept on instrumental funk banger on the flip “It’s our thing”. Another great funky soul Virtue double side featuring the R.D.M. Band is Willis Wooten’s “Your love is indescribably delicious”/ “Do the train”.

For another perspective on Philly funk & possible connections to Virtue check out this Funky 16 Corners blog from years ago.
https://funky16corners.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/.

The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – The Joker (On A Trip Thru The Jungle)

charles-wright-the-joker

So, last week I mentioned that I am about to undertake another U.S. Tour. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer for the poster as I am still finalising some of the dates. However one gig that I can confirm is that I will be joining Miles Tackett (he of Breakestra fame) and Clifton James Weaver III at their week L.A. club, Funky Sole on Saturday 24 September.

Those of you who live in L.A. will probably be aware of the club and it’s reputation as one of the best funk & soul nights anywhere in the world. I’m delighted to be joining the guys and following in the footsteps of a number of heavy hitters behind the decks including Dj Shadow, Cut Chemist, DJ Nu-Mark, Keb Darge, Greg Belson, Skeme Richards & Keith Shocklee.

With that in mind I thought it only appropriate to bring you a track by a group that many consider to be the best funk outfit to come from Los Angeles – The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

If you’re on this blog then you’ll unquestionably know the iconic Express Yourself that has featured on many compilations & tv commercials, not to mention how often it has been sampled – most famously on N.W.A’s Express Yourself.

Today’s selection is a little less well-known, but still a quality piece of instrumental groove in its own right. The Joker was released in 1974 in what proved to be the final 45 that the band cut. If you think of Booker T & The Mgs being a touch funkier, you’ll get the vibe of what we got going on here. 

The Equals – Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys

I’ve just returned from my jaunt to London and a most enjoyable trip it was too! Friday night took us to Soho and Madame Jojos. If you aren’t aware of it, this was the venue that Keb Darge held his legendary “Deep Funk” night for many years. It’s changed a little bit since then, with Snowboy now the resident in funk and a name change to “The Good Foot”.

Joined on stage that night was Jay Strongman who popped along for a guest slot during a brief visit back to London. The music was still classic r&b, soul & funk with a little dollop of ska/reggae thrown in. The music policy has changed a bit since I was last there when Keb was resident in chief (it’s a bit more on the “commercial” side) though it was still an enjoyable night and well worth a visit if you happen to find yourself in London of a weekend.

Saturday night took us to the legendary Jazz Cafe in Camden Town. We were there to see our old favourites – “Breakestra”. Despite an almost complete change in the band’s personnel since the last time I saw them, they still sounded fantastic live.

They opened with a number of cover versions of classic funk tracks – Etta James’ You Got It (which we featured here on Gazfunk), Johnny Otis’ Watts Breakaway & my own personal favourite, Lil Lavair & Fabulous Jades – Cold Heat. Later in the set they played quite a number of their own compositions, though this was where the atmosphere dropped a little for me. You can’t beat the classics, huh?

Anyway on to this week’s update. Obviously this was inspired by my trip away so when trying to think of something funky that represents London, this was the clear favourite. I’m sure plenty of you are aware of Eddy Grant and no doubt his band The Equals (due in no small part to their monster hit “Baby Come Back). Well this choice is even funkier again and was an anti-war protest song.

Listen to the funky guitar on this track and try not to get your groove on..