The Whatup Funk Band "SoulFunkFul"
CD review by Roger-Z
The other day, I was trying to work up a rhythm guitar part for the old Stevie Wonder chestnut "Superstion." Wasn't quite sure which way to go. Suddenly, I flashed back to a Sunday night a few months ago at The Thataway Cafe in Greenwich, CT. The 3D Band performed and I was transfixed by Kevin Franklin on rhythm guitar. He played a psychedelic pink 1980s reissue of a 60s Fender Telecaster plugged into a Line 6 amplifier. Here stood the greatest funk rhythm guitar player I had ever witnessed. So much so that I went back the next three Sundays just to stare and listen in awe. Then it hit me. The 3D Band played a version of "Superstition." Hey, don't worry about creating a sophisticated rhythm/lead guitar part. Just think like Kevin and funk it up.
It worked. A couple of days later at another club, my own band performed "Superstion" and we killed. Even though we had the audience dancing for an hour straight, we lost the gig. Why? Because it's not just about how you play. It's how many people you bring who eat and drink. And that's all she wrote!
Afterwards, I remembered that I owed something to Kevin. We had chatted once about me reviewing the 3D Band's CD. At the time, he'd just sold his last copy. So instead, he gave me a record of his other group -- The Whatup Funk Band, which also includes the 3D keyboardist, Thom Adams.
The Whatup Funk Band's "Soulfunkful" defied my expectations. Instead of hot rhythm guitar, the music is propelled by a latin-jazz, horn-driven, Earth, Wind, & Fire sensibility, chock full of bass rapping and serpentine falsetto harmonies.The infectious groove and lyrics of "In Da Band" hooked me immediately. Vocalist Thomi Adams leaves a message on his girlfriend's answering machine asking, "Are you ever home, girl?" He then raps about how she needs to get her friends down to their gig that night.
A straight latin tune, "Se La Soul," allows all the musicians to shine. Beautiful Spanish guitar by Anthony D. Gadaleta.
"If I Could Read Between The Lines" reworks the Barry White "Deeper and Deeper" groove. This slow, simmering, burn features wah wah guitar and beautiful vocal harmonies.
"Right On!!" serves up a medium tempo funk gumbo with supercharged slap bass (Nick DiFala), a great tritone rhythm guitar riff, and outstanding Hendrix-like fuzz-tone soloing by Kevin.
"Postive Virtues" belongs on "CD 101 FM." This beautiful instrumental showcases Thom Adams on what sounds like a Hammond B3 and Kevin on Sanata-like guitar.
"Keep On Rising" initally quotes The Average White Band's "Pick Up The Pieces," but quickly shifts into an uptempo, spiritual groove burner with plenty of sultry sax.
A couple of things really move me about this album. First, the positive, spiritual lyrical message -- truly uplifting in light of what's going on in the world. Anthony D. Gadaleta architected that vision as the founder, singer, lead guitarist, main writer, and horn arranger. Second, these cats can REALLY play. The rhythm section features a real drummer (Jamie Sapelli), and a real bass player (Nick DiFala). The rest of the band includes Thomi Adams (vocals, keys), Hubert Martin (vocals, percussion), and of course Kevn Franklin (lead guitar). For more info on the group including live dates, check out the web site at www.whatupfunk.com. Maybe I'll see you at their next gig!