The Whitefield Brothers – Rampage

Hello soul brothers and sisters and a Happy New Year to y’all!! I’ve finally arrived back from my trip to S.E. Asia & Australia where I had an absolutely fantastic time – probably my best trip to date! Of course I had a number of gigs organised during my travels and I’ll tell you a little bit more about them during this post, plus I have a few pictures of said gigs for you to enjoy. It’s good to be back!!

My first dj slot during my tour was in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as the locals more commonly call it). I didn’t realise until a couple of days before I left that I would be dj’ing after the mighty Black Rebel Motorcycle Club who were, like me, visiting Vietnam for the first time. The venue itself (Cargo Bar) is probably the most impressive venue I’ve ever been to and it’s a space that has been tailored specifically for djs and live bands.

Once the gig was over that was my cue to take to the decks. I initially was unsure as to what vibe to go for as I wasn’t sure what type of crowd I’d be playing to, plus the fact that it’s hard to know what type of music BRMC fans would like to hear at a club after the concert. I started off with Sandie Shaw’s excellent version of “Sympathy For The Devil” and this got the crowd onside straight away. From there I played some 70s psych mixed with garage, freakbeat and other oddities before upping the tempo a little big and delving into my bag of funk. The crowd seemed really up for a dance and I had a number of different people congratulating me on my musical selection with one even saying I was a better dj than Grandmaster Flash (who incidentally was playing in Saigon that same night) and another remarking that I was the best dj he’d seen during the 20 years he’d been attending events in Saigon – high praise indeed!! You can check out some photos below:

The impressive space that was the Cargo Bar

The impressive space that was the Cargo Bar

The crowd getting their funk on

The crowd getting their funk on

The stage is set..

Laying down the beats

Laying down the beats

From Saigon it was on to Siem Reap in Cambodia the very next day for my next dj appearance in the cool setting of The Laundry Bar. The Laundry has a growing reputation for live bands & djs with an impressive sound system and is probably considered as the best venue for live music and alternative entertainment in the whole of Cambodia. Again, I didn’t know what to expect as I had no real idea whether the people there would be funk fans, but if they weren’t by the start of the night they certainly were come the end! I was also approached by a lady who runs various music festivals in the U.S. to see if I was interested in performing there in the future. Watch this space.. Here’s a selection of photos:

Posing beside a nice little poster

Posing beside a nice little poster

Even in the toilet you can't escape Gazfunk!!

Even in the toilet you can’t escape Gazfunk!!

Doin' my thang

Doin’ my thang

Some of my followers...

Some of my followers…

My next stop was Melbourne. I had been booked to play in a hip burger joint called The B-East which was at the top of trendy Lygon St. My slot was organised by Australia’s No1 soul sistah, Samantha Goldie. This was something of a more low-key affair as it was mainly busy with locals out for a bite to eat on a Saturday evening. There’s no dancefloor so it wasn’t really a party vibe, but those who were there seemed to enjoy the music and by the end of the night I did manage to get 1 or 2 people grooving.

Put the needle on the record...

Put the needle on the record…

The groovy interior of The B-East

The groovy interior of The B-East

The bar

The bar

Nervous smile for some reason

Nervous smile for some reason

My final (or should that be vinyl) stop on my tour saw me travel to a little festival being held on NYE about an hour outside of Sydney in a National Park. The setting was quite laid back and dare I say it, hippy. A friend of mine was running the bar at the festival (supplying his own craft beers) so I was happy to dj at the bar to keep the thirsty punters entertained whilst waiting on their “grog” (I was in Australia). Later that night I was invited to dj at a “naked disco” – and yes, it was exactly as you’d imagine. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) there is no photographic evidence from this so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that it was brilliant fun with a great atmosphere (it should be noted that this was a one-off experience for me!!!)

Today’s track then, is a song that I played a couple of times during my sets on the tour and each time it destroyed the dancefloor (as it has done in the U.K. too). Enjoy!!

The Incredible Bongo Band – Sharp Nine

So last weekend I travelled to the B.F.I. in London for the U.K. Premiere of “Sample This” – a film detailing the story of The Incredible Bongo Band. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the film and it pulled together very well the strange collection of events surrounding the coming together of the band as well as those which ultimately brought about the break-up.

Here’s a little taster of what you can expect from the film when it goes on general release:

Before the screening, we were able to catch up with Dan Forrer, the writer/director of “Sample This” to ask him a few questions about the film. Check out what he had to say below:

Dan Forrer

Gazfunk: How/when did you first become aware of The Incredible Bongo Band?

Dan Forrer: I heard “Bongo Rock” on the radio in 1973 and became curious about the “band”. The song was a Top 20 hit in Canada.

G: What was it that excited you about the story of the band that made you want to make a film about them?

DF: I read an article in the New York Times by Will Hermes that connected the story of “The Incredible Bongo Band” to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. I became fascinated by the unlikely chain of events that led to the creation of “The Incredible Bongo Band”.

G: There are many famous musicians in the film, was it hard for you to convince them to take part?

DF: The musicians were happy to tell their story and I was privileged to have many of them appear in the film. There are over 30 different musicians that played on the 19 original tracks!

G: The legendary Gene Simmons of “Kiss” fame is the narrator of the film, which may seem a strange choice to some, what was his connection to the story?

DF: Gene Simmons was a close friend of Michael Viner. He was very generous with his time and agreed to appear in the film to honor his friend.

G: Sadly Michael Viner passed away in 2009, but did you get an opportunity to speak with him about your plans for the movie before his death?

DF: I only had the opportunity to communicate with Michael via email but he was very supportive of the project. He passed away about a month after I started my research.

G: I know that the movie premiered back in October 2012 in Austin, Texas, what was the reaction from those who were lucky enough to see it?

DF: The people who watched the film were surprised by the fact that “The Incredible Bongo Band” would never have happened if it were not for the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

G: With Gazfunk being primarily a music blog, I’m sure our readers will be interested to know a little bit about your own musical background, so what type of sounds do you dig?

DF: I’m a vinyl junkie with a 5,000+ album collection. I love mostly sixties/seventies soul and funky jazz grooves.

G: Where can our viewers go to find out more information about the film, release date, screenings etc?

DF: You can follow us on Facebook or Twitter at samplethismovie. There’s a trailer on youtube as well (Ed – see above)

G: Finally, we normally invite our interviewees to select a song for us to feature but given that the film is about “The Incredible Bongo Band”  (and we’ve yet to feature them on the blog), now seems as good a time as any to showcase their sound. So which track would you like us to play?

DF: Well, you could play “Apache” which is considered the national anthem of hip-hop. However, one of my personal favourites is “Sharp Nine”. The break shows just how incredible King Errison & Jim Gordon are.

G: Thanks for your time and good luck with the film.

Mighty Mo & The Winchester Seven – The Next Message

Mighty Mo & The Winchester Seven - The Next Message

So last week we brought you the original record that was sampled by one of hiphop’s classic tracks – Ice T’s “Lethal Weapon”. Well this week we’re actually doing the reverse. Today’s selection (as you may have guessed from the title) is a modern instrumental take on another of hiphop’s most legendary tunes – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s mighty “The Message”

I’m sure any of you that are old enough to remember (or indeed are just old-skool hip-hop aficionados like myself) will appreciate the importance of Grandmaster Flash’s original in the history & influence on so many rap records that followed. When covering such a revered track it is important that the cover stays pretty true to the original and doesn’t destroy it (much like Duran Duran’s ill-advised cover of “White Lines” some years back)

There’s no such worry with this take however as in my opinion they have absolutely nailed it. This was originally released on the Peace Street label back in 2008 in limited quantities (I think there were maybe only 500 or so pressings), but soon after it was reissued on Kenny Dope & Keb Darge’s Kay-Dee records which ultimately led to the original becoming something of a collector’s piece. I’ve played this in some of my sets over the years and it’s always got a good reaction on the dance floor and I hope it gets as good a reaction when you listen to it through your computer!