While I’ve spent many nights swaying to sappy love songs or knocking around a crowded room to experimental rock, few things beat a funk-filled, “Soul Train” style dance party.
And Karl Denson throws one of the best high-energy dance parties I’ve ever been to, right up there next to George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. If you’ve gotta have that funk, too, then make your way to the Pour House on Wednesday for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.
Denson, a legendary saxophonist and flutist from San Diego, spent the past few months sharing the stage with The Rolling Stones during the band’s Zip Code Tour. Now, he’s back on the road with his own funky rock band for the Fantastic Fall Tour ahead of their next album expected in early 2016.
If gigging with the Stones isn’t telling enough, consider the lineup of Tiny Universe, which includes Soulive drummer Alan Evans, Greyboy Allstars bassist Chris Stillwell and keys player David Veith from Crush Effect of Los Angeles. Throughout this tour, Denson also is bringing in special guests Chuck Leavell (The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers), guitar virtuoso Robert Randolph, Beto Martinez of Brownout and steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier.
Opening up the local show will be Earphunk, a funky jam band from New Orleans starting to make a name for itself through the ever-present festival circuit. The group of 20-somethings is in the same electro-funk-rock realm with groups such as Tauk, Dopapod, Flow Tribe and others that seem to take cues from jam band giants, namely Umphrey’s McGee and STS9. Right now, Earphunk is busy touring around the country to promote its latest full-length, “Sweet Nasty,” released about a year ago.
The show starts at about 9 p.m. Tickets are $21 in advance and $25 at the door. For more information, visit www.charlestonpourhouse.com/schedule.
Troy Andrews first picked up the trombone at age 4 in his hometown of New Orleans, and somehow became a virtuoso of an instrument that was bigger than he was. At age 6, he was leading brass band parades around his Treme neighborhood, which is when the pint-sized player got the nickname Trombone Shorty. By the time he reached his teens, he was touring around the globe until he joined Lenny Kravitz’s horn section at 19 years old for the 2005-06 world tour.
Now 29, his stage name isn’t exactly an accurate moniker, but it speaks to his lifelong dedication to his instrument and to the culturally rich music of his hometown. Since putting together his backing band Orleans Avenue in 2009, Andrews has been defining the next era of New Orleans-style funk with hip-hop-infused performances that can get just about any audience on its feet.
He’s played at the White House alongside American music legends B.B. King and Jeff Beck, and at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards show last year with Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Madonna and Queen Latifah.
When he isn’t on the road or in the studio, Andrews works to foster the next generation of funk players by sending talented high school students in Louisiana to the Trombone Shorty Academy, a music training program made possible through his Trombone Shorty Foundation and a partnership with the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South at Tulane University. There, underprivileged students learn the values of jazz and second line traditions, as well as live ensemble performances with successful musicians as their mentors.
“It’s all about keeping our music strong in the future,” Andrews said in a statement earlier this year about the Trombone Shorty Foundation and its mission. “When I was young, the older cats did it for me, and now it’s my responsibility and privilege to do the same. That’s what makes our city so special, we pass it on.”
Catch the visionary musician and his backing band on Thursday at the Music Farm. New Breed Brass Band, another New Orleans funk group who consider Trombone Shorty to be like “family,” according to a recent statement, will warm up the crowd starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 at the door and $28 in advance. For more information, visit www.musicfarm.com/venues/music-farm-charleston/upcoming-shows/.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.