Friday May 29th I spent a bit too much time trying to round up some troops by prodding either Nicole or Tim to come along to Jerky’s for the evening, to no avail. Friday’s are a great night for shows in that most people don’t have to work in the morning, but it can also generate a hindrance to find accompaniment after a long week of work. I set off downtown solo to catch Eric French & Mr. Hyde open for Fungus Amungus. Arriving a bit late, Eric French was well into their set, I said some quick hellos to some familiar faces, and tried to get a good placement to set up for the evening.
I was immediately turned onto their style, a classic rocky blues trio. Eric French lead the band on guitar and vocals with Mr. Hyde consisting of Walter Skorupski on bass and Eric Kalver on drums. I was set up just in time to watch them evoke The Jimi Hendrix Experience and perform “Power of Love:”
French started blazing a fiery lead riff with Walter providing a thumping bass line, Eric K pounded fiercely on the drums. A great Hendrix tune, I haven’t heard it covered around these parts since Ricky Valente used to play it out in the early 2000s, and Eric French & Mr. Hyde played a great version as well. Choosing an original for their next song, showcasing again their classic rocky sound, “Sally Don’t Lie:”
It was a well written song, good lyrics as well as music, with a catchy chorus. Eric K utilized some busy fills during slower softer verses. Eric French took a short bluesy solo in the middle, and refrained the chorus with passion. Their next number, another original “Love, Love, Love:”
The song started with a musical introduction in which the Erics both showcased their blues chops on their give instruments. During the gentle rhythm guitar riff Eric K and Walter both laid back to lend further weight to Eric French’s guitar. Defining his presence Eric French addressed the audience directly and prompted further participation. Choosing a cover for their final piece they broke into The Police’s “Can’t Stand Loosing You:”
Instantly I chuckled inside, personally I could always give or take the Police, I won’t turn off the radio if they come on, but I certainly don’t own any Police CDs. Yet, in the same week, both Kyle Nicholas and Eric French chose to cover the same Police song, though Eric French & Mr. Hyde played a decidedly more rocking version. All three musicians impressed on their instruments, Eric French sang passionately, but lost a little steam by the end of the set, overall a very impressive set from Mr. French, and I will certainly be looking forward to catch both he and Mr. Hyde play out again soon. As usual I escaped out back to level out the blood levels in my nicotine between performances and made some conversation with some fellow concert goers. Upon my return I noticed that Rhode Island’s funk masters Fungus Amungus was just finishing their stage arrangement.
Donning the stage at the beginning of the evening for Fungus was Johnny Lingo on all manner of keys and lead vocals, Mike on bass, Joe Jannerelli on drums, Jarrod on alto saxophone, Patches O’Houlihan on tenor saxophone, and Zach Fenner on guitar. Breaking out my trusty Nikon I captured their first song:
Funking right off the bat they wanted to see the room hopping. Patches was a great addition to the band compared to the time I’d seen them previously at The Black Rep’s Exodus Cafe, I love me some horns. I was certainly a fan of Jarrod’s performance last time, but with a second sax, there was much more power behind the horns this time around. Mike was laying out a great bass groove while Joe tapped out a good back beat and Zach was strumming a funky rhythm. Patches and Johnny both took great solos on their given instruments. I put the camera away for a few songs to shake my ass, its was so high energy a set I don’t think there was a set of still hips in the room. Breaking out the old school, Fungus invited their former vocalist, Ronnie, to perform a few songs:
Bringing the funk they jammed out for a bit with Zach leading in with an infectious riff, before Ronnie started in on vocals. After a verse Ronnie came in with a bit of skat and started a call and answer session with Joe. The whole band join back in on the jam making sure the whole room was bouncing. Ronnie left the stage for the next tune, in which Johnny Lingo took lead vocals on a song he had written, “This Man:”
Definitely a faster paced higher energy version than I’d heard them play previously, always a great too to see them play out with good catchy lyrics as well as a funky dance musical score. Johnny also has a wonderful tendency to go ballistic on hes keyboard setup during this one, this time he handed the solo baton to Zach Fenner who proceeded in on a solo I’d have expected his fingers to spontaneously combust during. Fungus took a few moments to confer and assure everyone was on the same page before breaking into a fantastic version of 2001. Fungus Amungus invited their old friend Ronnie back on stage before launching into an epic version of “Shake Everything You Got,” provided in two parts:
It had a bit of a raw and unrehearsed jam feeling, perhaps Ronnie’s presence was unanticipated, but it was great to hear them all stretch out their musical muscles a great deal. Ronnie tried a call and answer with Patches but it appeared they were on different pages, Zach hopped in to answer the call, then Johnny grabbed everyone’s attention on keys. Ronnie began introducing the funky drummer, Jarrod had issue with some of Ronnie’s logistics, and took control of the mic to give it over to Joe. He may have had some technical difficulties during his solo, but still managed to knock the skins off the drums. The song slowed a bit into a smoother jam and Patches took over for an extended entrancing solo on the tenor sax. Taking the lead, Jarrod sped the place back up with a blazing alto sax segment, by the end of the twenty minute jam the crowd was elated. Another great friend and member of Fungus took to the stage, Chelsy Lau, and they proceeded to funk on stage for the crowd’s enjoyment yet again. Fungus took a moment to switch out some members and left only Zach and Johnny on stage, Zach gave me a nod and said he was pumped I stuck around for this one, as Johnny began the beautiful and hauntingly familiar “Shine on You Crazy Diamond:”
Zach joined with his guitar as they traded measures. Slowly but surely each member of Fungus came back on stage to lend their instrumentation, joined finally by Chelsy. It was a fantastic version that had the crowd cheering. Chelsy stayed on stage and lent her powerful vocals from her diminutive frame during the next wall of funky sounds:
During the musical interludes Chelsy prompted the crowd to dance with her as she shook everything she’s got and tosser her hair side to side. Fungus broke into a hot cover of Steel Pulse’s “Roller Skates” next. They killed it once again, I hazard a guess this is a favorite of theirs to cover. The night was winding down, I figured they’d only be playing a few more so I broke the Nikon back out to get a clip of their next number:
Again I was completely blown away by the Fungus Amungus show, great musicians, great stage presence and a hell of an energetic set. I hung out a bit to chat with Zach after the set, he was thanking Eric French for the use of his amp during the set, apparently Zach blew his out during warm up. This again highlighted to me the camaraderie between local musicians, and made me smile. It was a fantastic night of music and I will definitely be out again soon to catch both Eric French &Mr. Hyde as well as Fungus Amungus.
Next up: To Snookers for the Final Drop Out Night