Show Review – Crystal Bay Ballroom 03-10-12

New Orleans Funk Reaches New Heights
Concert review: Papa Grows Funk, Vinyl
By Nick Brown

Crystal Bay is still recovering from hurricane-force funk.

Hailing from New Orleans, Papa Grows Funk, alongside Bay Area band Vinyl, descended upon the Crown Room Saturday, March 10. The evening was full of improvisation with everything a funk lover could want and more.

Just like the name, Vinyl has a classic funky sound with touches of Latin soul added to the mix. This band was not afraid to let it all hang out, and each member made sure of it. Danny Cao, trumpet, and Aaron Saul, saxophone, fed off each other’s energy all night long giving the crowd a large dose of dueling horns and high pitched notes.

Bandleader Jonathan Korty, a Hammond organ player, kept the reins loose and let the band run wild as his fingers graced the keys and let out the screeching sound the Hammond organ is famous for. Before their time was over, Korty welcomed John “Papa” Gros, from Papa Grows Funk. The two sat side-by-side blasting keys getting the crowd primed for the main attraction.

Papa Grows Funk hit the stage running, and the audience kept on dancing. Known for their improvisation Papa Grows Funk entertained the crowd with everything they had, including a couple bonus songs off its soon-to-be-released fifth album, “Needle In The Groove,” dropping March 27.

Papa Grows Funk, the Maple Leaf’s Monday night staple on NOLA’s Oak Street appeared right at home among the pines. With influences like Fats Domino and Louis Armstrong, Papa Grows Funk is everything you would come to expect: funky and jazzy, making each song its own.

Guitarist hero June Yamagish looked as if he was having a musical epiphany; closing his eyes, his hands moving in a blur, leaving concert revelers marveling in his display.

Bassist Marc Pero, saxophonist Jason Mindledorff and drummer Jeffery “Jellybean” Alexander were no exception to the talent-packed night. The three of them had a trio battle with drums answering bass and notes screaming from the sax. At one point during the show, after his thirst had been quenched, Mindledorff picked up his empty Corona bottle and proceeded to beat his newfound instrument with a drumstick. The night was all about improvisation, and Gros was having fun, donning an ear-to-ear grin as he led the funky quintet through a meandering night of funk.

For the encore, West Coast met Cajun South as Vinyl and Papa Grows Funk morphed into one large super group.

Korty and Gros once again doubled up on the keyboards, leaving the rest of the musicians to fall inline. The crowd ate it up. Gros raised two fingers in the air, symbolizing peace and letting the audience know it was soon to be over.

Everyone squeezed in their last dance moves and, as quickly as it had started, it was over, leaving the Hammond organ resonating through concert revelers.