Photography and story by Steven Philips (StSteven.com)
All it takes to make funk music is a funky rhythm section and a lead guitar or keyboard. But the great funk bands have horns and vocals, and one of the hot trends these days is a female vocalist out front. World Cafe Live Philly brought us two bands that have not only solid rhythm sections, but brass, great vocals, and more.
Swift Technique is all over Philly these days, and if you missed them opening for the M&Ms in Ardmore or this night at WCL, you can catch them at one of their many upcoming shows or festivals. (SHOWS HERE) I describe them as a bunch of brassy young musicians, with a seasoned pro – Jay Davidson – on the keyboards, and the beautiful front woman with the big voice and big smile, Chelsea ViaCava. They have a huge sound, with three horn players that not only play well, but put on a show that’s more than just dancing on stage. They often leave the stage to play from other locations, they jump high, get down low, and generally indulge in some very entertaining goofball antics that assure that their shows are not just good music, but a visual spectacle and a dance party.
I’ve gotten used to seeing Deep Banana Blackout once a year, at Gathering of the Vibes, where they’ve brought their high energy funk to the stage every year since the beginning almost 20 years ago. But I’ve been waiting for a Philly show, and finally got it on Friday night. Jen Durkin is the high energy funk singer that keeps the band in high gear from beginning to end.
Another group with a big sound, they have horns, keys, and a strong rhythm section that does a great job with some funk classics, and has a stack of great originals that have been released on some highly praised cd’s. And they have a solid fan base stretching up and down the coast from their base in CT. And the fans know what to do when it gets quiet between songs. We chant. “DEEP BANANA BLACKOUT” over and over until the energy and enthusiasm is circulating back and forth between the stage and the dance floor. On this night we were treated to a sit in by Camille Armstrong a great singer and percussionist who brought her high energy good vibe vocals to blend in perfectly with Jen and the rest of the band. It was a great show, and I hope they come back to Philly soon.