The night before Thanksgiving is always a joyous celebration. Families getting together, old friends reuniting, and this past Wednesday at the Cabooze on the West Bank of Minneapolis, MN, two incredibly gifted funk bands from two very different places brought the Twin Cities together for an electric four-hour performance for the ages.
First up were the New Mastersounds, one of the sharpest, most fluid funk fusion and soul bands touring in the scene today. Hailing from Leeds, United Kingdom, the incredible four-piece wasted no time getting the place moving, playing tracks from 2015's Made For Pleasure and 2011’s Breaks From the Border amongst many others. The energy was incredible, for every melodic note that came through guitarist Eddie Robert’s 1965 Gibson 330, the energized Minneapolis crowd gave it right back. Drummer Simon Allen, the driving backbone behind the New Mastersounds, kept a metronomic beat the entire night while bassist Pete Shand and keyboardist Joe Tatton flew up and down their respective instruments with jazz-funk type deliveries.
As if their pre-thanksgiving performance was not already incredible to say the least, the New Mastersounds decided to take the giving a step further. On their travels from Montana into the Twin Cities, the band encountered the Standing Rock protests firsthand and found officers in their hotel parking lot, strapped head to toe ready to take on the peaceful protesters. Guitarist Eddie Roberts recalls, “Tuesday night, on our long drive from Montana to Minneapolis, we found ourselves in a horrible situation. As we checked into our hotel for the night, we walked into a disturbing scene… a parking lot full of militarized police, head-to-toe in combat fatigues, loaded up with weapons, as they prepared for their next strike on Standing Rock’s peaceful protestors. The temperature was freezing, and the display of violent force was intimidating.” After witnessing the violence firsthand, the band decided to donate half of the money from the Minneapolis show to the Stand Rock Sioux to support the protest taking place in North Dakota.
Next was Brooklyn’s nine-piece funk powerhouse Turkuaz, a group who have made a name for themselves over the past few years and carved out a bonafide spot in the “jamband” power rankings. Like a mixture between George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic meets Talking Heads, Turkuaz is much more than just your average funk band. Joining the group for the Minneapolis performance was Snarky Puppy’s own Nate Werth, who added layers to the already progressive percussion powerhouse. Opening with “Bubba Slide” of 2014’s Future 86, Turkuaz bombarded the Cabooze with heavy, gritty slide guitar, thumping basslines, beautiful soul singing provided by vocalists Sammi Garett and Shira Elias, and so much more. The precision was excellent, it felt as though the band could not miss a beat if they tried. Midway through the show, 2015’s “Digitonium” came out of the woodwork and provided keyboardists Craig Brodhead and Chris Brouwers with plenty of room for exploratory space funk and culminated with a roaring guitar solo by Dave Brandwein.
Next up was the “Ballad of Castor Troy,” which once again showcased an excellent performance from vocalists Sammi Garett and Shira Elias. Towards the end of the jam, it was time for the horn section to shine, and one by one trumpeter Chris Brouwers, tenor saxophonist Greg Sanderson and baritone saxophonist Josh Schwartz all took turns memorizing the crowd with their respective instruments. After the second set finished, both the New Mastersounds and Turkuaz took the stage for one final hurrah, and bowed to a crowd that knew they had just been blown away. It was the perfect culmination to the night, and the Twin Cities crowd left the Cabooze punch-drunk and thankful for the beauty that is the funk.