Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tweed Funk First Name Lucky

I have become aware of the Milwaukee based blues and soul band Tweed Funk from some very positive remarks on social media. Tweed Funk has a new recording, First Name Lucky on Tweed Tone Records that I understand is their third CD. Tweed Funk is fronted by a powerful vocalist, Joseph ‘Smokey’ Holman. The quintet backing him includes guitarist JD Optekar, bassist Eric Madunic, drummer Nick Lang, saxophonist Jon Lovas, and trumpeter Kevin Klemme. One selection also includes Brian Lucas’ harmonica. Seven of the 11 songs were written by Optekar. He is an able guitarist and the horns add punch and both are fine soloists while the rhythm section keep the groove going.

The party feel is exhibited on the funky Time to Burn. Their cover of Let the Good Times Roll is good but does not stand out. It is interesting they cover Black Joe Louis’ Sugarfoot but Smokey’s vocal comes off as strained. In contrast, they provide a nice cover of Lil Bob and the Lollipops I Got Loaded (familiar to some from Los Lobos’ cover. It is incorrectly credited to Peppermint Harris whose I Got Loaded is a different song), with Lovas contributing a nice tenor solo. The slow blues, Sippin Misery, stands out. It has a 3 o’clock in the morning feel with Smokey’s low-key vocal, Optekar’s jazzy guitar here (and he might use this attack elsewhere) and marvelous playing by Lovas and Klemme (the latter making nice use of horns) for a magical performance and shows just how good they can get. In contrast to this wonderfully paced performance, the closing Get It On sounds a bit frenzied. Slowing the tempo down a notch might have  led Smokey’s vocal to have more impact.

Tweed Funk’s First Name Lucky  is an record perfect for parties with a mix of blues and soul.

Received my review copy from a publicist.  Here is a video of Tweed Funk.

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