Lake Minnetonka are bringing Australia a fresh serving of instrumental, modern funk one gig at a time. Their latest single Out There Bout There is a jazzy journey straight from the beating heart of Minneapolis, and they’ll be officially launching the track next week at the Curtin in Melbourne.
Before the gig, we caught up with their frontman Adam Rudegeair – and to get you in the mood for the show he’s hand picked a selection of his 10 favourite funk acts of all time.
A man who has collaborated with Prince’s musicians is sure to know his funk. We catch up with Adam Rudegeair to pick his brain for the world’s 10 best funk acts.
New Power Generation 1992-1995 lineup
It’s controversial to pick this Prince band (who were initially introduced on 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls and had revolving personnel ever after) over The Revolution, but this was the current band when I first discovered Prince, and what I find amazing is this was about the fourth time he re-invented funk in a 10 year period.
Once they added second keyboardist Morris Hayes (who later went on to become long-term musical director of the band), the deal was sealed. The use of samples, subtle but absolutely insane technique from every player, and ingeniously dense layering up of the instrumentals made albums like Exodus and The Gold Experience both experimental and impossibly fat – I don’t know if I’m ever gonna hear something this slamming ever again.
Tracks like Days of Wild, Endorphinmachine, and Get Wild? They’re untouchable.
I prefer the slankier Parliament to their psych-rock parallel incarnation Funkadelic, for me having Maceo and Fred Wesley on the horns adds a whole other dimension. With George Clinton at the helm, their psychedelic brand of afro-futurism took what Sun Ra had established, melded it with the flavours of Sly Stone and Graham Central Station, and paved the way for the likes of Prince, Outkast and Janelle Monáe.
They are absolute giants of funk and as a keyboardist, I can’t get past the sinuous synth licks of Bernie Worrell permeating every jam.
Dr John and The Lower 9-11
The Lower 9-11 are suffused in every African and Caribbean flavour that was ever soaked up into the New Orleans wetlands. Their rubbery, lazy grooves are like an extension of Dr John’s funky mind.
Medeski, Martin & Wood
So much more than just a funk band, these guys, while being extreme jazz virtuosos, have made a career out of exploring every amorphous permutation of the funky pocket. They are constantly collaborating with the likes of John Scofield, DJ Logic, John Zorn, Nels Cline, and so many others.
As a rhythm section they are second to none and their music is ridiculously adventurous and fresh, with a total commitment to being in the moment. They are my favourite band that does not contain Prince. Check out their albums Combustication or Uninvisible for a crash course.
Melbourne’s Pickpocket has existed in a few different forms over the years, with bass player and walking funk encyclopaedia Craig Strain at the helm. The current lineup is an unbelievably tight unit, they sound as good live as they do on record. Their new album is called Sojourn and it’s a cracker.
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New Sound Underground
New Sound Underground are from Minneapolis, but to me they sound like they’re from New Orleans. A top notch original funk band that are locked in like a jaw wired shut.
I discovered Defunkt on a mutant disco compilation, they’re a great mix of uptempo funk grooves with lashings of no wave and free jazz thrown in. I love their vibe.
Speaking of mutant disco, Melbourne self-proclaimed ‘heat beat’ band NO ZU are an incredible collective who sound like a gonzo Talking Heads side project. Like Lake Minnetonka, they’re rooted in 80s flavours, and their tunes have a relentless propulsion and a tight-but-loose sensibility that I find irresistible. It’s trippy, exciting and dangerous.
Vocalist Carla Troiano had been a guest vocalist at a few Lake Minnetonka gigs, and one day she asked me to fill in at a gig for Mayfield’s keys player. She sent me the tunes and I was blown away. Choi on drums brings the retro James Brown feels, and the guitar and bass parts have real edge.
It’s always great to hear a Melbourne band doing original music in this genre and really elevating it above one or two chord jams. There’s a lot of nuance in there, but most of all, it compels you to dance! They’ve just released a new single On the Ropes on 7” and their debut album is coming soon.
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I’ve known Chelsea since before she released her first EP Bitterness… now she’s on the cusp of her second full length album Chasing Gold. In the interim she’s played Glastonbury, toured Europe, she just keeps going from strength to strength.
Her band are incredibly polished and driving, they’ve got juice to spare. Chelsea started out a bit more straight-up soul, but lately her music has been going in a 70s funk and disco direction. She used to do those seven night a week hotel residences in Japan and Dubai, so her chops are off the hook, she can slay anything vocally, as far as I’m concerned.
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Find all the details on Lake Minnetonka’s Out There Bout There single launch below, and grab your tickets here.
Thursday 27 October
The Curtin – 29 Lygon Street, Carlton
Doors 8pm till late