Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ontario Music Lovers Get Their Groove On To After Funk

After Funk has been bringing the ruckus to the Ontario music scene since its formation in 2011. The five-piece groove outfit has made a name for itself with its potent brand of progressive funk/soul and exhilarating live shows. The band is based in Toronto, Ontario and is comprised of the following talented players: Yanick Allwood (keyboards, vocals); Justin Bontje (bass); Jaime Rosenberg (drums); Phil Tessis (guitar); and Andrew Racknor (alto saxophone).  After Funk has been delivering mega doses of funk and soul to appreciative audiences across Ontario and Quebec, as well as parts of the U.S. And the band never fails to blow the doors off the hinges at their high-energy live shows—which are like huge house parties. Also, After Funk was crowned the winners of Electric Forest's 2014 Instrumental Forester Competition.

The band’s fan base continues to swell each year, and they have had the opportunity to open for acclaimed music acts such as Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce, Five Alarm Funk, The Souljazz Orchestra, Walk Off The Earth and Grammy-winning instrumental fusion band Snarky Puppy.

After Funk has a pretty wide range of influences, which include James Brown, Nigel Hall, Eric Krasno, Tchaikovsky, Herbie Hancock, Lettuce, Tye Tribbett, Snarky Puppy, Stevie Wonder, Soullive, D’Angelo and the Meters. The band melds all these diverse influences to create their own singular and dynamic sound.

Early last year the band dropped its self-titled EP, which is a stellar seven-song collection of funk, soul, jazz and rock. One of the standout tracks is “Palindrome,” a mesmerizing jazz-fusion instrumental, which showcases the band’s impressive musical chops and versatility. And “Arabia” is a beautiful romantic cut that’s elevated by a jazzy Middle Eastern-flavored section.  Also, I have “The Fugitive” on repeat. This winning track contains an infectious melody, indelible chorus and a great lead vocal from Allwood. And Kyla Charter and Rachel Vandezande sweeten the chorus with their honeyed backup vocals. I could easily imagine hearing this cut on the radio.

“The Way It Is” is a kinetic funk/soul track that’s driven by Bontje’s bumpin’ bass line. Allwood  really shines on this cut, delivering a powerful, gospel-drenched vocal performance. And Julian Nalli serves up a super-funky sax solo, and Tessis contributes a scorching solo on guitar. The band goes to church near the end of the song, with Allwood cutting loose with some fiery soul shouting. The finale sounds like a funky revival meeting.

The jazzy funk groove “Tequils” is another quality track from the collection. The song is enhanced by Bontje’s impeccable bass work and Rosenberg’s killer drumming. And Allwood brings the funk on vocals and organ. Additionally, Meagan Luchko provides some soulful backing vocals, and Tessis delivers another fantastic guitar solo.

The remaining three tracks on the EP are equally strong, showing that After Funk has talent and creativity to burn.  Allwood wrote four of the tracks on his own and co-wrote “Tequils” with Bontje. Tessis wrote “Palindrome” on his own and co-wrote “Busted” with Josh Cohen.

After Funk has been busy on the road thrilling fans with their exciting live shows. The band has some U.S. dates lined up for next month: The Rex Theater in Pittsburgh, PA (Feb. 19), The Tonic Room in Chicago, IL (Feb. 20), The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, MI (Feb. 21). And they return to Ontario on February 26 for a show at The Toucan in Kingston. To get more concert info, learn more about the band, or check out their EP, visit their website.

"The Way It Is"


Live performance of After Funk's super-funky track "Elephant Walk"

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