This night was a party, and who could be surprised by that with the amount of talent at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom on this night. There were three bands and three painters that created an electric dance space under the giant disco ball to kick off the holiday festivities. The famous Frenchy, Scramble Campbell, and John Bukaty lined their canvas side by side on the left side of the stage and prepared for a night of sheer artistry.
The first man up was a blooming DJ in the music scene today named DJ Russo who played between each set. Flowing with the theme of the night, Russo started with an almost 1980’s breakdancing feel, which got the crowd’s juices movin’, then he mixed in a 1970’s funk jam. Thankfully, like a real DJ should, Russo began scratching to the sounds of “Get on Down Wit Yo Bad Self.” Towards the end of his opening set, there was a song that sounded a lot like “Rock Steady” by Aretha Franklin that lays the bass line now known mostly by Phish’s “Sand,” which thrusted the final dance groove of the set. It was a dance party to remember. Everyone was really looking forward to his next set after the Earful.
The Earful came on and the funk horns and big band power demanded the crowd’s attention. Leader of the band, Brian Teel has lead this powerful force that has been touring since 2008, and they even resurrected the form of funk from the 70’s called GoGo. They had butts shaking and warmed up for the legendary main event, but not before another set of the killer DJ Russo.
Russo came back to play during the set change and this time he sounded like he went to New Orleans during the break and fired up some Curtis Mayfield “Superfly” sugar that had the even larger crowd now moving without inhibitions.
By the time the Funky Meters walked on, we were ready to go, and what better way to start then to see a cake being delivered to the legendary Art Neville by two beautiful women to sing happy birthday to him. It was his 77th birthday, and after the birthday jam they went into a cheerful “People Say.” Keep in mind that Art Neville started the Meters in 1967 in New Orleans. They have been the backbone of the funk community since then. In 1984, when the band added Brian Stoltz to the puzzle, they formed the Funky Meters. Since then, they have had several incantations, but all of them bring the funk hard.
After the cover “Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35” the Funky Meters played many of their classic songs much to the pleasure of everyone in attendance. The audience did a lot of shaking to songs like “Ya Ya Ya Ya,” “The World is a Little Bit Under the Weather (Doodle Oop),” “Cissy Strut,” and “Fire on the Bayou.”
They closed the holiday funk jam with a Christmas song medley jam that featured, “Just Kissed My Baby > Christmas Time > Just Kissed My Baby.” The spirit was in the air, and the song that closed the night was “Ain’t No Use.” This was an amazing night of art and music by all of the performers, and the festive vibe left everyone very happy throughout the venue.