Tag Archives: Tammany Hall

Funk Time: William Thompson Funk Experiment Brings the Party with Shine Time

by Matt Robert
This article originally appeared in the Thursday, June 7, 2013, issue of Worcester Magazine.

Though the origins of the William Thompson Funk Experiment are low-key and comical, there’s nothing to laugh at with this solid, grooving outfit. Though the band maintains a laid-back attitude, it is a tight, expressive funk band that draws on lots of styles – both the expected and unexpected – to create a sound rooted in the traditions of funk and reggae, but cognizant of present styles, too.

The band, says guitarist Nick Sergeant, started out in the suburbs of Worcester as WTF, or “What the Funk,” and was long referred to by various plays on those initials. They had their eventual name handed to them at a Tammany Hall show a while back when a friend spontaneously announced them to the audience as the “William Thompson Funk Experiment.” The band rolled with it, and it’s been their name ever since.

William Thompson Funk Experiment brings its alternative, psychedelic funk to Tammany Hall in downtown Worcester for one of only a few area shows on Saturday, June 8.

Sergeant says that the band members bring a lot of variety to the stew. Though, he says, their collective favorite groups are Deep Purple and Ween, he also notes the influence of funk bands, like Lettuce and Parliament/Funkadelic, as well as cerebral rock groups, like Pink Floyd and Tool. Then, there’s the jazz background of the two members who attended Berklee. Last, he says, front man Nico Ramey brings some hip-hop and R&B flavor.

“Ocean Jam,” from last year’s “Shine Time,” sums up the band’s approach pretty well, bookending a rocking funk jam with a chill, ambient groove. Guitarist Nick Sergeant negotiates each vibe, offering ethereal whale calls and glistening, chorused chord fills in the mellow jam, and a balls-out wah-wah solo in the funk portion. Keyboardist Justin Bradley demonstrates high-level chops and intimate familiarity with vintage keys sounds, laying down chunky, spaced out Rhodes and wild synth pitch bending, with tones right off of ’70s records, by the likes of Pink Floyd, Herbie Hancock, or Weather Report.

Combined with Elote Villanueva’s soaring soprano sax soloing, and the faraway, freakout lyrics of front man Nico Ramey, twisted with digital delay, the tune really cooks, with great band interplay, big chops, and wide dynamics. It is a sonic delight.

The rhythm section of Adam Casten (bass) and Tim Hetu (drums) is just what you’d expect – and want – from a funk band: tight, dynamic, and potent.

The live act is a stoner party on stage, with steady dance grooves and a broad sonic palate of horns, keys, guitar, dubstyle rapping, and plenty of histrionics and ear candy, perfect for club music and perfect for the dancing Tammany throng, which loves WTFE.

It’s no surprise that the band has made its biggest impact in front of festival crowds, and has become a three-year regular at the Strange Creek Festival in Greenfield, Mass.; last year’s Open Road Festival in Worcester; and the Camp Cold Brook Festival in Barre (the band plays it on June 21).

Sergeant says that the band does best in front of the varied crowds that festivals tend to draw and that they’ve picked up lots of fans in that environment. It’s easy to see how someone who might not be attracted to funk per se might hear things to enjoy in WTFE’s sound, which, as Sergeant says, mixes reggae, hip hop, metal, and jazz, among other things. Musicologists, as well as dancers looking to be swept away, might both enjoy the heady, yet sophisticated blends.

“Make Choices,” for instance, has a soundscape akin to “Ocean Jam,” but with Nico sounding more like Sublime’s Bradley Nowell rapping over a mid-tempo funk groove, hating on haters. Sweet swelling horns polish the arrangement, which mixes loads of ear candy, chunking and wahing guitar and steady, percussive Rhodes over high-watt, walking bass and complex, but meaty drums.

Sergeant says that the band broke out several new songs at the recent Strange Creek show, which fans can expect to hear at Tammany, too. The band, he says, which makes the rounds of southern New England venues, is conscious of overplaying the Worcester area, and books their dates carefully. In fact, the Cold Brook Festival is the last event they have booked at the moment, so, get out and hear them when this opportunity arises.

Catch WTFE live on Saturday, June 8 at Tammany Hall, 43 Pleasant St. at 8 p.m. The band’s album “Shine Time” is available online at cdbaby.com/cd/williamthompsonfunkexper and at shows. You can learn more and stream tracks at reverbnation.com/williamthompsonfunkexperiment.

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A Night of Great Local Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Roadkill Orchestra, Comanchero, Big Eyed Rabbit and Matt Robert – Tammany Hall – Friday, December 7, 2012

A Night of Great Local Rock ‘n’ Roll! The Roadkill Orchestra, Comanchero, Big Eyed Rabbit and Matt Robert Tammany Hall – Friday, December 7, 2012.

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Dirigo and Comanchero Bring American Roots to Tammany Hall

Dirigo and Comanchero at Tammany Hall, Worcester, Friday, April 27, 2012

by Matt Robert

This article originally appeared in Worcester Magazine’s Thursday, April 26, 2012, issue. All photos courtesy of Dirigo and Comanchero.

Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto? Let’s call the whole thing off.

Both Dirigo and Comanchero, who come together for a show on April 27 at Tammany Hall on Pleasant Street in Worcester, label themselves, though both also get a little squirmy about labels. Dirigo, who describe their music as “jamericana,” and Comanchero, who call theirs “nuevo Americana,” want listeners to be more open-minded.

“I hate the labels!” exclaims Luke “Patchen” Montgomery, guitarist for Dirigo, about the oft-maligned term “jam band.” “If you look at any old Led Zeppelin footage, they stretched stuff out and (their songs were) different from day to day. To me, that’s what a jam band is.”

“(Guitarist) Steve (Jones) is pretty heavily into the roots-Americana vibe,” adds Patchen. “We kind of combined those two sounds into jamericana. So, it’s like trying to do some country-flavored music, but also letting it stretch out. We didn’t want to do anything too Grateful Dead or Phish. We didn’t want to really just let it go completely out there into the ether. We kind of wanted it to have a basis in roots music – country music – but also let it kind of breathe a little bit.”

“The song is the essence of the whole thing,” Patchen adds. “I come from a background of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and Neil Young, for example, where the essence of the song is really the heart of the whole thing, and then stretching it out, letting it breathe and improvising on it is the secondary part,” he explains, citing The Stones’ “Let it Bleed” and “Sticky Fingers” as particular inspirations.

Dirigo and Comanchero share a love of roots music, in general, and American country music, in particular. So, while both bands enjoy instrumental, improvisational music, their approach is more Austin than San Francisco, more “Live at Folsom Prison” than “Live Dead.”

Dirigo, comprised of Patchen, bassist Erik Glockler, guitarist Steve Jones, and drummer Russ Lawton, know of what they speak. Dirigo features members of the seminal Burlington, Vt., jam band Strangefolk; Phish guitar guru, Trey Anastasio’s, touring band; and wellknown Maine folk/Americana band, The Boneheads. The band grew organically from post-Strangefolk-show acoustic jams, taking a life of its own as an acoustic duet (much like Strangefolk’s own early-’90s UVM origins), and by 2004, included drums and bass, adding the current band name in 2010.“It’s a good old rock ’n’ roll show,” says Patchen. “(We’re) just having a good time and having fun. We’ll definitely stretch things out and have a good time, for sure, and jam out,” he says about the Tammany show. “We really just want to have everybody dancing and having a good time – just enjoying the music.”

Sam Margolis, of Waltham’s, Comanchero, says that their mission is similar: “When I played lacrosse in college, we had a saying before every game: ‘Play loose, have fun, and leave it all on the field.’ I think we strive to create a vibe that is contagious for our audience. At the end of the day, we want to give our fans a new experience that’s entertaining, provocative and engaging.”

Comanchero’s live show, like Dirigo’s, is high-energy, tight and varied. “Songs like ‘One Foot in The Grave,’ ‘Jimmy Carter’ and ‘Fall in Line,’” says Margolis, citing three up-tempo, catholically country tunes from their 2011 release, “The Undeserved,” “get our crowds dancing. I think our Americana and roots influences shine through with these new tunes, but we still like to have fun sprinkling in other genres we dig, like reggae, Latin, and jam.”

Comanchero, made up of brothers Greg Moon (vocals, drums) and Bob Moon (vocals, guitar), Andrew Kramer (bass), Sam Margolis (vocals, guitar), and Jim Levin (percussion), came together in 2003, and have since released three CDs. The most recent, 2011’s “The Undeserved,” has received great reviews (see accompanying CD review) in a number of high-profile American and U.K. publications and paved the way for a recent gig with Ronnie Earl at the Regent Theatre, and spots this summer at the 2012 Harpoonfest, in Boston, and opening for Crosby, Stills & Nash in New Hampshire.

Of the April 27 show, Margolis says, “I can’t wait to play Worcester with Dirigo. This will be our fourth show playing with them and they tear down the house at every show. They’re amazingly talented musicians and can captivate their audience until the last note is played.” So, call it what you want. This Tammany show will unquestionably feature two road-tested, dynamic live acts with a taste for good old songs.

And there might just be a little jamming, too.

Dirigo and Comanchero, Friday, April 27, 2012. Tammany Hall, 43 Pleasant St., Worcester. dirigomusic.com, comancheromusic.com, tammanyhalllive.com.

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