Dead As Funk
feat. members of Trongone Band, DJ Williams Projekt, Ron Holloway & more!
Free Show Download & Concert Review
Photo by James E. F. Young • The Richmond Image – Recording by Zach Fichter
Saturday night was a culmination of all the reasons I love LiveMusicaDaily and am glad to have it in my life.
The line-up was a regional dream team. Members of Trongone Band playing a hometown show with members of DJ Williams Projekt (lead guitarist of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe), the vocalists from Keller William’s Grateful Gospel (Samantha Reed, Tonya Jackson, and Therochelle Moore), Scott Flynn on trombone (Pretty Lights Live Band), Mark Ingraham (DJ Williams Projekt), Todd Herrington on bass (Check out his stellar album “Things” here), and saxophonist legend Ron Holloway (Warren Haynes Band, Dizzy Gillipsie Quintent) & more.
Take members of some of my favorite bands, and team them up with Live Music Daily to celebrate the music of one of the best bands in America’s music history, and you’ll certainly end up with some special magic. In my visit to Richmond, a nice relaxing day along the James River would quickly transcend into a night full of exceptional music at the Broadberry.
In a nod to the Dead as Funk theme, the Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary and their lasting legacy, the set kicked off with “The Music Never Stopped”. This cover followed the general framework of the Dead’s original, but the musicians took it in another direction with a funky take on the classic. This would be the theme of the evening. After TMNS, the band launched into a strong Casey Jones with Andrew Trongone leading charge on the vocals and the Grateful Gospel singers providing lush, ethereal harmonies to elevate the chorus portion of the song. Next up was one of my favorite Dead songs in the catalog, “Althea.” In keeping with the funk rework theme of the show, Johnny Trongone led this song on a fast paced rendition of the classic. Evan White’s keyboard work on the electric piano was fantastic: bobbing and weaving and peaking before we got back to the verse, “There are some things you can replace, and others you can not.”
Next, the band popped off the envelope filter as tasty organ chops took listeners straight into “LA Fadeaway.” Then, Samantha, Tonya, and Theorochelle absolutely crushed the vocals for an upbeat “New Speedway Boogie.” Throughout the night, the backing vocalists elevated these Grateful Dead songs to new levels. The classic “Tennessee Jed” was well placed in the setlist, a song Dead lyricist Robert Hunter authored while in Barcelona Spain, which first appeared on the official release of Europe ’72. Andrew Trongone’s Jerry tone was on point for this one. The horn section really shined on “Feel Like a Stranger,” and things really took off when the jam section of the song came. It was one of the best jams of the night. Steven Boone took the peak of the jam to outer space on guitar and Ron Holloway finished it off with some beautiful sax work.
Sometimes the spontaneity of sit-ins is magical. Sometimes the results don’t live up to the hype. However, it was clear that this group was well rehearsed, which made the show flow seamlessly without skipping a beat. This was an all-star cast of musicians who really put a great deal of thought and time into crafting this magical setlist.
Following “Feel Like a Stranger,” the band showed no sign of looking back with a steaming hot version of “Scarlet>Fire.” DJ Williams used Andrew’s guitar to slay the living daylights out of the “Fire” jam with the help of Steven Boone. Andrew assumed lead vocals and it was quite a treat overall to hear such a fully built up interpretation of a song that is only two chords.
We then kept going with some of the top choice cuts from the Grateful Dead catalog with a feel good “Eyes of the World.” Again, the vocalists nailed this one, giving this rendition of “Eyes” an extra special punch.
Then it happened— a mammoth jaw dropping “Shakedown Street.“ It’d be a disservice to try and describe what ensued. I’ll leave the reaction up to you. Listen below. Let’s just say, the funk was felt.
Of course to fit with the funk theme, it was no surprise that the band performed “Franklin’s Tower.” The very fitting lyric, “If you get confused, just listen to the music play” was very well received to the enthusiastic audience of heads who were movin’ and groovin’ in the Broadberry that night. “Loose Lucy” kept the party going with yet another fan favorite tune. Ron Holloway reminded us once again during this song why he is one of the most dynamic saxophonists in the country.
The band took a short break before hitting the stage for a one-off encore of “One More Saturday Night”. Harrington walked that bass down, with Johnny coming down the tracks for a strong backbone that the horns, keys, and guitars pummeled with full force to seal the deal for the night.
The energy from the band was on point, the crowd was enthusiastic, and the overall vibe was exactly what anyone would’ve dreamed of for a night as special as Dead As Funk.
Special thanks to Mitch & Mattybohemian