Funk fans in the Bay Area were given a treat a few years back when Eddie Roberts from The New Mastersounds decided to move into our neck of the woods. Immediately his presence was felt at ALL the right shows that you should be attending, whether he was sitting in a three-piece suit with a beautiful woman on his arm taking in the sounds of another band or whether he was on stage shredding his guitar while making sure his facial hair is remaining perfectly coiffed, you couldn’t go anywhere in the San Francisco area that has “funk” associated with it without running into Eddie.
A few weekends back he decided to get the band fully back together by booking two nights of The New Mastersounds at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall for a benefit called The Payback, a way to help out the old neighborhood that he used to live in when he was a full-time Bay Area resident.
We were stoked to see that The Nth Power was also added to both nights, the super group lead by Nikki Glaspie. For two nights in a row, we were floored with amazing music to open the show with these guys delivering some seriously soulful, slow jam funk music, always appropriately ramping up to explosions of sound before finding the groove again behind Glaspie’s beats. They ended their two nights with a cover of “What a Fool Believes” and harmonized their way beautifully through the Doobie Brothers classic. Definitely enjoyed their sets; can’t wait to see them again come Jazz Fest 2015, but they’ll definitely be playing a ton ahead of that.
As for the four sets that came from the New Mastersounds between the two days of music, fans could not have been more thrilled with the performances that were coming from the stage. They had Joe Cohen from the Jazz Mafia up along with a few others in the horn section who’s names are escaping me right now, but they were all there both nights, which really added a lot of fun to the sets. Lyrics Born was in the house the first night and joined the band during the second set for some freestyling and emceeing, which definitely broke up the night and kicked up the energy into something decidedly funky and hip hop-y. For me, the true highlight was on night two when Zigaboo Modeliste was in the building, complete with a two drum-set attack on stage that got things going earlier than expected. First set of night two, the New Mastersounds got to geek out with a legend and play “Cissy Strut”. Afterwards Eddie just looked at the audience and raised a fist and shouted “history!” — clearly a big moment for these guys. At one point Simon got switched out and we were watching The New Mastersounds jam with Nikki AND Zigaboo at the same time.
That was mind-blowing bonkers for me as an old hobby drummer myself; watching them shred was easily one of the best musical moments I’ve witnessed all year. And they raised a ton of money, too, so thanks for the party with a purpose! Our friend Ian Stone grabbed some shots from the first night, which you can see below.