What goes around comes around. We’ve heard it said hundreds of times and popular music has proven this adage over and over. In the blues, it seems to happen about every twenty years or so, when the genre becomes uber-popular with the masses. Swing music had a huge resurgence sixty years after its birth. Now, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin show band, Tweed Funk brings us the soul and rhythm & blues of the 60s in a fresh way with their new CD, Come Together.
This album delivers ten brand new, original songs, written and composed by the band members themselves, that could not be more on point. Eric Madunic, bass, Hammond organ, Rhodes piano and guitar, along with guitarist JD Optekar are the main contributors to the project with one or both credited on each and every track.
Right from the jump, “Light Up the Night” grabs your attention and sets your body in motion with its resounding horns, smooth percussion and grooving bass line. Then the smooth as butter vocals of front-man Joseph “Smokey” Holman kick in with lyrics that, at first, come across as depressing, but when the chorus hits with, “Tell the haters to beware, doubters can doubt, you don’t care”, you discover a song of determination disguised as an upbeat dance tune. The backing vocals of Chrissy Dzioba and Sara Moilanen of The Whiskeybelles add the perfect exclamatory punctuation.
Holman is no Johnny come lately to the scene. This veteran Chicago-born vocalist began singing in a harmony group in Gary, Indiana and had recorded at Stax Records in Memphis, Motown Records in Detroit and CurTom Records, under Curtis Mayfield himself in Chicago, all before he graduated high school. After a hiatus of over twenty years, he returned to singing the music he loves, but never forgot those early times.
The lyrics of “Sweet Music” recall his working with Rufus Thomas and Willie Mitchell in Memphis, his disappoint with Motown and his big break with Mayfield. The title track is a genius number, calling for people of the world to “Come Together” while referencing the iconic Booker T & The MGs album, McLemore Avenue, all in a style that hearkens to early 70s Marvin Gaye.
Another favorite track is “Who Is This”, a greasy, jazz-infused, sliding note instrumental that showcases the talents of saxophonist, Andrew Spadafora and Roomful of Blues veteran, Doug Woolverton on trumpet. Then there’s “Embrace”, a slow, sweet tune reminiscent of prom night. If you can listen to it and not be reminded of slow dancing with your first love, there’s a hole in your soul.
Come Together is an innovative collection of pristine soul blues that will take you back to a simpler time. If you ever were a fan of The Funk Brothers or the Memphis Horns then this album is right up your alley. If not, give it a listen and you’ll come around.
10 Tracks 40 Minutes
Tweed Tone Records
Release Date: April 29th, 2016