Funk’N Beer Festival Recap
On Thursday, November 14, Columbus, Ohio, kicked off their second annual Funk’N Beer Festival, featuring two nights full of funky jam bands, DJs, and beer. The festival was again held at The Bluestone in downtown Columbus, in a beautiful old church that offers perfect acoustics and enough space for fans to dance and roam about. With year two starting off on a Thursday, I was curious to see the turnout, as many people would have to get up for work on Friday. Luckily, it being on a Thursday night did not stop these funk fans from partying.
The festival started off with two DJ sets by Lostcause and Harok (who also played last year) on the side stage, which was placed on the balcony, where festival goers danced and twirled their LED rave toys. Following the two DJ sets was Ghost-Note, a percussion-based funk and jazz group with hip hop styling from Dallas, Texas. If you are unfamiliar with Ghost-Note as a band, you may be familiar with the big names this group has worked with. Band members have quite an extensive musical history playing with artists such as Prince, Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Timberlake and many more! Like many jam-jazz fusion bands, the recordings can not compare with their live performances. When seeing Ghost Note, you feel their strong passion and dedication to this music. Each talented member truly brings their own set of skills and style of funk, and together they form an undeniable energy, that I can only hope to witness live again.
Following up after Ghost-Note was DJ Wuchon, a band member from Turkuaz who happened to play at last year’s Funk’N Beer Festival. After DJ Wuchon’s groovy set, the crowd was ready for the headliner, Lettuce, who absolutely brought the house, or shall I say church, down. Ever since stumbling upon Lettuce at Bonnaroo in 2016, I made it a life mission to see them live again. Their smooth composition and musical experimentation brings a bold and powerful energy you can’t help but get lost in. Six members make up this beautiful jazz- and hip hop-infused band who have all been making music since the ’90s. Their latest album, Elevate, was released this summer, featuring a wel- refined set of silky tunes, with my favorite being “Purple Cabbage.”
Night two was off to a little bit of a slower start due to conflicting shows in town. Lotus was also playing the same night as Funk’N Beer, leaving the jam fan community split. Being with a group of friends who also felt torn on whom to see that night, everyone ended up very happy with their decisions to stick around, especially for the tribute to Ohio funk, which featured members from The Motet and Turkuaz. Chris Houser of The Werks was also scheduled to play tribute but was unable to join the party.
Before the tribute to Ohio funk, the night started off again with a mix between DJs and bands, such as Self Test, Exmag, Shatter, and, most notably, The Motet, from Denver. Not knowing too much about The Motet except for a couple songs, I immediately fell in love with their high energy and soulful performance. What I enjoyed most about seeing The Motet was how each member got lost in playing their own instrument. You could tell that each bandmate brought something truly special to the table. With such a diverse range in musical talent, The Motet creates funky pop tunes with flavors of psychedelic jazz. If that doesn’t already get your body grooving, then lead vocalist Lyle Divinsky‘s contagious spirit definitely will. As Divinsky cruises from one side of the stage to other with his smooth moves and joyous demeanor, you are instantly inspired to follow his lead.
Ohio Funk Super Jam
In the 1970s and ’80s, Dayton, Ohio, was the hot spot for funk, where many notable bands were born, including The Ohio Players, Junie Morrison, Faze-O, Dayton, Sun, and Platypus. If you are unfamiliar with such classic funk names, it’s time to do your research. You can thank me later when you can’t stop dancing around your house to those sweet, sweet grooves. So to properly close out the festival, members from different bands came together to play tribute to Ohio’s greatest funk musicians. Members from The Motet, Turkuaz and others brilliantly jammed side by side, creating the ultimate party that I didn’t want to see end. Representing members of The Motet included one of the most skillful bassist I’ve seen, Garrett Sayers, the funky Joey Porter on keys, and energetic vocalist Lyle Divinsky. Representing members from Turkuaz were Craig Brodhead crushing it on guitar and Michelangelo Carubba keeping the beats steady on drums. The biggest take away from the tribute performance was understanding how incredibly powerful passion is and how it drives each musicians spirit to form their own style of funk fusion.
I can only hope to see Funk’N beer return to Columbus in 2020.