Mama's Cookin' :: 07.19.04 :: The Top Hat :: Missoula, MT

First impression? "Wow." Immediate afterthought? "Let's get out there and dance."

Hailing from a little place in Colorado known as Gunnison, Mama's Cookin' brings a barrage of world funk and blues to dance floors around the U.S. Providing a "get up and dance" vibe and an excuse to let loose, these guys are worthy of every accolade that comes with the role of being the "pied pipers of soul." But it isn't just the dance party feel that makes them a standout band. Their ability to incorporate funk, disco, and delta blues in one smooth motion is phenomenal.

These players are totally pro--while they sample diverse genres with a blink of an eye, their sound is tight and precise. Cookin' has elements of Jerry Garcia Band and Curtis Mayfield, as well as solid rock 'n' roll, giving their sound a consistent freshness that many groups find hard to maintain gig after gig. But Mama's Cookin' has mastered a whole songbook of recipes that allows them to serve up five star meals night after night.

Their accomplishment is not at all surprising once you take a look at their musical resumes. The main chef of Mama's Cookin', guitarist/vocalist/breakdancer Zeb Early woos the audience with gritty vocals and southern charm. His guitar playing is as fierce as it is freeing. Pianist Todd Holway was a child prodigy, studying piano at age five, which, since he hails from Alaska, is pretty much all you can do during the long, dark winters. His spirited, jazzy playing is a perfect accompaniment to his fellow band members. Bassist Steven LaBella joined Mama's Cookin' during the fall of 2000 and adds a crucial funk dimension, slapping that bass like he's at some underground '70s Chicago blues bar. Drummer Mike Adamo incorporates his love of hip-hop with a jazz flair that adds to the band's irresistible groove. Missing from this eclectic group was percussionist Shane Whitener who's rumored to dish out heaps of African and Latin rhythms.

Although Cookin' didn't participate in much of the festival scene this summer, keep your fingers crossed for their "must have" presence next year. And when you finally see the name Mama's Cookin' on the schedule, be sure to check out what will be a "soul shake down party" in its own right.

Through a little help from word of mouth, and a steady stream of exposure, Cookin' is destined to convert fans. They have renewed and brought forth a refreshing taste of what has drawn people to music since the beginning of time. All you need is a pair of ears and some dancing shoes to bare witness to the start of a new revolution of old school funk and blues. This is the genuine thing. The members of Mama's Cookin' are gifted musicians who cultivate an animated atmosphere, leaving in their wake an exodus of fans who want them to encore all night long.

Tanya Seledee
JamBase | Montana
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[Published on: 7/20/04]

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