Deep Banana Blackout and The B-Side Players
Monday, December 3, 2001 | Lincoln Theater | Raleigh, NC

Deep Banana Blackout
The horns came to town Monday night as Deep Banana Blackout and the B-Side Players lit up Raleigh’s Lincoln Theater. A quality horn section has the tendency to take music to a new level, especially if you are playing the kind of hard-core funk that headliner Deep Banana Blackout churns out almost effortlessly. With a base of an electric guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, drums and a percussionist, this band can lay down a groove. Then top with a trombone, tenor sax, alto sax and tight vocals and you’re in for a great evening.

Songs like “That’s What I’m Talking About” feature the horn section punctuating the background groove, and are reminiscent of a Sly and the Family Stone sound. The whole band blends very well together especially vocally. Alto Saxophonist, flutist, and head diva Hope Clayburn handled many of the lead vocals. Her powerful voice ranged from soft backing vocals to screaming scat leads a la Aretha Franklin. The lead guitarist “Fuzz” also had a wonderful deep lead voice, but really shone on his emotional solos. Rather than impress with flashy licks, he seemed to make the guitar speak like another voice in the song. During one extended solo, he had the other members of the band watching in awe.

Other songs like “Hippo Walk” and “High & Mighty” had the Tenor Sax and the Trombone working overtime, but they never missed a beat. In fact the whole band worked as a cohesive unit, keeping the groove running throughout as individual members stepped forth into the spotlight. The song “Why does being bad got to feel so good?” feels like the essence of this band. They play down and dirty and make it sound so good.

This was Deep Banana’s first appearance in Raleigh, but the crowd came out for them in force. By the middle of the show everyone was on their feet dancing. For a great time and all the funk to fill your soul, Deep Banana Blackout puts on a spectacular show.

Opening up were San Diego’s B-Side Players. This outfit brought horns and a heavy Latino influence to their funk. It was a refreshing sound, all the normal funk trappings with accents of Afro-Cuban music, reggae, and jazz. The band is comprised of a lead singer who plays trumpet, a tenor sax/flute player, bass, electric guitar, drums and three, count ‘em, THREE percussion players. It was this driving backbeat that set the B-Side’s apart. Taking advantage of this, they played a wild Cumbia number. Cumbia derives from the traditional folk music of Columbia, and is characterized by its incessant beat. Some of the other songs were sung entirely in Spanish, but that certainly didn’t faze anyone, the language of funk is universal.

The B-sides have a unique way of keeping time. During many songs the whole band did little syncopated side-steps, basically choreographed swaying. Not only could you feel the beat, you could see it too. This band obviously has a great time playing music. The guitar player stepped forward for a solo and began some serious shredding, and I do mean shredding. The licks were so fast it’s probably impossible to write it out musically, 32nd notes wouldn’t do it justice. He was also hitting some crazy jazz chords in there. At times the sound meandered towards discordant, but always returned to the melody...think of a cross between Eddie Van Halen and Robert Fripp. The lead singer handled the vocals smoothly, delivering rapid-fire Spanish and melodic harmony with ease. He was quite a character as well, his long dreadlocks stuffed under a Rasta hat and plenty of turquoise jewelry. He embodied the barrio flavor and musical excitement of the band.

The Raleigh show was the last one of the tour for the B-Sides, so Deep Banana brought them up on stage for a huge jam. The crowd was treated to lengthy solos by Deep Banana’s drummer, the B-Side’s guitarist, their sax player, and many, many percussionists. It brought the show to a close with a huge bang and everyone went home with funk on the brain for the next few days. A fantastic evening of music, in one of the best intimate venues in town. Outstanding. Next time either of these bands is playing in your area be sure to go, you’re guaranteed to be flying high on the funk.

Anson Burtch
JamBase | North Carolina
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[Published on: 12/5/01]

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