Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA
October 2, 2014
by Jimm O’D
Johnny D’s in ‘Camberville’ … Davis Square … ok Somerville, just up from Cambridge. The last (only) time here was for a Twiddle show, maybe six months ago. It was mobbed! In fact, a small part of my motivation to come here tonight might have been to check the place under more normal conditions. Or that’s the bonus, anyway. Simple truth is, singer Sam Dechenne, singer and trumpeteer for COCEK! BRASS BAND invited me.
Funny story: after a show a few weeks ago, at Brighton Theater in Allston, ’round about 2 or 3 am, some whacko started yapping at me on the street. After a while, I got to thinking maybe he wasn’t whacked, just one of those… you know… creative-type people.
He told me about an upcoming show; it sounded more interesting than not, and I had just had my small-town mind opened some by a pair of funk bands, so I tentatively proffered an intention and penciled it in. As the date approached, I found myself feeling more ‘promised’ or maybe welcomed and invited. It may have been the feller’s intensity or enthusiasm, or maybe just his sincerity after chatting a while, but I continued to come up to the day with a sense of relief or good fortune that no other, more local allegiances cropped up to divert me from this little adventure. Now, as the tables fill up and the opening band plays in, I begin to feel that new(to me), old familiar sensation of comfort that comes with Being Right Here Right Now, and Right Where I’m Supposed To Be.
“This is one of our favorite People’s Champ songs,” says the front-lady/singer with People’s Champs, a contemporary rhythm & blues (“funk”) band from Brooklyn.
“What we need for you-all to do is just feel it, just go with the vibe. It’s kinda hard not to; same with all their songs. The next number was even educational, as one of their few non-original tunes is one from a Brazilian disco singer. A slow one came along a little later, and that brought the bodies up on the dance floor. Looks like they’ll be there for the duration, now; it’s that kind of music. Energetic and entirely dance-able, with a pair of horns complimenting the keys, guitar, bass and drums, the band members all contribute to the presence; the dynamic lady in the front plays off and with her cohorts with glee and gusto. This is really fun stuff! It’s smooth, fluid, expertly executed and easy on the ears.
In terms of People’s Champs’ sound and music, a particular comparison come to mind: as Boston’s Van Burens lean to the prog side of ‘prog-funk,’ so this Brooklyn band leans to the funk side of a not-dissimilar mix. In fact, they’d be great on a bill together, as each falls about the same distance from a similar center-point. Like that other band, this one is a lot of fun, with mostly up-tempo and danceable rhythms, clean sound and excellent musicianship, and great presence and camaraderie among the band members.
Of course, the personnel contains a different line-up, as the Champs have one guitar and a horn section, as well as a bona fide front-person, the excellent Cole Williams. Like so many of the funk bands getting around these days, this one is hugely entertaining. It’s like a live variety show; the diversity of styles that come together under the ‘funk’ flag make for a real ‘nite-out’ experience. While some bands might include, in varying measures, portions of rap and hip-hop, this band seems to stay true to a ’21st-Century Motown’ mode. They are a professional and pleasing representation of modern-day soul and R&B, with a full sound and a lot of rhythm. Peoples’ Champs really is a fine, fun fill o’ funk.
Their EP CD will go in the player right quick, as soon as I hop in my car!
Check out Jimm’s review of the other band that night, Cocek! Brass Band.
ABOUT PEOPLE’S CHAMPS:
People’s Champs wash the hottest dance rhythms from West Africa and South America in a deluge of retro-futurist synth tones and craft them into experimental indie songs with Stevie Wonder-esque lyrics.
Their typical personnel include:
Alex Asher – Trombone, Vocals
Cole Williams – Vocals
Josiah Woodson – Trumpet, Guitar, Flute
Cole Kamen-Green – Trumpet, Electronics
David Bailis – Guitar
Mitchell Yoshida – Organ, Synths, Accordion, Melodica
Dov Manski – Keyboards
Jordan Scannella – Bass
Ben Davis – Bass, Guitar
Jeremy Gustin – Drums
Grant Braddock – Percussion
Disclaimer: The parent company that owns this website also own a music promotion company, however, they do not work with this band, directly with the venue for this show, and did not benefit off of this review in any way. Relationships are complicated. We all love music, get over it.