Westsound Reunion-May 11th at the Wild Buffalo

The Westsound Reunion is not a band, it’s an idea. Bellingham has been blessed with a fantastic groove music scene for the past 15 years and the Westsound Reunion was put together to showcase the best of the old and the new funk coming out of our region. Our local tour stop took place May 11th at the Wild Buffalo with bands like Rippin’ Chicken, The Unsinkable Heavies, Polyrhythmics, and last but not least the Lucky Mystery Now Orchestra. A historic coming together of the most talented funk musicians in Washington took place as people happily danced away their troubles.

Rippin’ Chicken describes themselves as a “soul food organ trio gone rippin’”. More of a fun side project, don’t let their simple orchestration of organ, guitar, and drums fool you, these guys are monster players and their complex songs were met the whole night with sure-handed playing and jaws dropping in the audience. Ben Bloom actually played in all four bands that night so if you see him in Seattle or if we’re lucky enough to be hosting him in town, buy that man a beer because he earned it.

The Unsinkable Heavies are a subgroup of the Polyrhythmics but they play a completely different set. Their sound is dirty and often full of special effects, especially with the addition of Thomas Deacon on saxophone. Sometimes spacey, always dancable, any other night a band like this should be headlining.

The Polyrhythmics get my vote for Seattle’s most likely band to blow up huge and start touring nationally. With a couple CDs out now their work compares to some of the best local funk and soul bands of the past 40 years. Relying heavily on aftobeat and Latin music to build their groves, a powerful horn section drives technical and rhythmic melodies which take a degree in music composition to properly dissect.

Did I mention a degree in music composition? Sounds like a good time to bring up Joel Ricci or as most of B’ham knows him, Lucky Brown. The Lucky Mystery Now Orchestra is the type of over the top musical performance that made Lucky famous in the first place. The Mystery Now Orchestra featured all the members of both the Funk Revolution and the Polyrhythmics, sharing the stage at once. The band had two drummers, one very busy percussion player, two organ players, bass, guitar, two trombones, two saxophones, and two trumpets including Lucky who also sang. Joel went out of his way writing and rehearsing special music for the Westsound Reunion including a horns only classical interlude, special arrangements of old Lucky Brown charts, and some of the best new funk music being made today. Lucky himself seemed to spend more time conducting his giant orchestra then he did playing but the result was pure magic.

For those in attendance of the Westsound Reunion it will be a night not soon forgot. It was the kind of show people should feel guilty for missing, a couple times there was talk that it was the greatest $10 anyone had ever spent. If I go deaf tomorrow, at least I heard the Westsound Reunion.