Monday, August 1, 2016

Tweed Funk – Come Together | Album Review

Tweed Funk – Come Together

Self Release

10 tracks / 39:08

Tweed Funk brings a Memphis sound to their unique blend of soul and blues, which is partly due to their frontman, Joseph “Smokey” Holman, who worked with Curtis Mayfield in the early 1970s. This Wisconsin based six-piece group formed in 2010 and a few months ago they released their fourth album, and you will find that Come Together is a sweet piece of art. These guys are doing everything they can to succeed: they have earned five Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) awards, they play all the right festivals, and they are getting great media coverage. It is all well deserved!

For this project, Holman sings the lead vocals, and he is joined by Eric Madunic on bass, J.D. Optekar on guitar, Dave Schoepke on the drums, Andrew Spadafora on sax, and Roomful of Blues’ Doug Woolverton on the trumpet. Chrissy Dzioba and Sara Moilanen contribute backing vocals on half of the tracks. All ten of the tracks on this disc are originals, and it was cut at Makin’ Sausage Music by Steve Hamilton.

Tweed Funk kicks off Come Together with “Light Up the Night,” and this is some extremely tight funk blues. From the intro the listener knows what the band is all about as the horns are popping over Madunic’s killer bass line that is perfectly in time with Schoepke’s drums. There is a lot going on here: Holman’s smooth tenor lyrics use Alice in Wonderland metaphors to spread the message of overcoming your troubles, Spadafora and Woolverton trade splendid riffs, and Dzioba and Moilanen’s backing vocals add just the right amount of soul. This is righteous stuff!

After this, the band shows that they are versatile as they run through different sounds, though the funk and the horns are never too far away. Here are a few examples:

-“Muse” has a light-hearted beat with Latin flavor, and Optekar does a stand-up job of setting the mood with his syncopated guitar chords. This is probably the best example of Smokey’s vocal style as this love song is right in his wheelhouse, both in range and style. This is the shortest song of the set, and I wish it were just a little longer!

-“Who is This” is a stone-cold funkfest, and this instrumental would be a great calling card for any of the musicians involved. Schoepke works the skins hard, and there are standout solos from Woolverton, and Spadafora.

-“Bullet” is an emotional and slow-tempo ballad with muted trumpet and reverb-soaked guitar. The message is somber, as it deals with a friend who chose to leave us too soon.

Coming in at 40 minutes long, this set goes by pretty quickly and before you know it things wrap up with “Soul Rockin’.” This is one last chance for the band to cut loose, and they build a brick house on top of Madunic and Schoepke’s foundation. Smokey’s voice is pleading as he expresses the need for some soul rockin’ from his lady. And, for one last time, the horns are off the hook and tightly hooked up -- this was a wise choice to close with.

Each new album that Tweed Funk has released has better than its predecessor, which is a tough task as their debut was pretty darned good. Come Together has solid songwriting and musicianship, and as a bonus it has a super positive vibe. This is a collection of wonderfully funky and soulful horn-driven blues, and it is a “must buy” in my book!

One last thing - on a more personal note, please keep Smokey in your thoughts as he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after this disc debuted. The band is taking a break as he gets treatment, and will hopefully pick up again in October. Thank you for your support of him and the rest of Tweed Funk.

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