Five Alarm Funk
Vancouver, B.C. has always been a musical town. But back in the day, as far as sizzling, soulful funk, it was something of a desert … until some mysterious force drew two young cats together who would change that in a hurry.
From their first house party jams, drummer Tayo Branston and guitarist Gabe Boothroyd gathered a community of musicians who shared their love for James Brown, Tower Of Power, Tito Puente, Antibalas, Frank Zappa and other adventurous groove-driven players. They called themselves Five Alarm Funk, drew more than 300 fans to their first gig at a local place called The Fairview Pub, established a residency at Richards On Richards where upwards of 800 attendees would show up each night – to eventually embark on a 37-day, cross-continental track involving 30 shows from Vancouver to Fredericton.
Since then, they’ve expanded their lineup to include Eli Bennett on sax, Oliver Gibson on guitar, Tom Towers on congas, Carl Julig on timbales, Kent Wallace on trumpet, Jay Smith on bass, and Jens Christiansen on sax. They’ve broadened their territory to include the U.S., played as far afield as Taiwan, rocked the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and begun releasing EPs and CDs. The most recent of these, 2017’s Sweat, explodes with fiery rhythms, punchy horns and gang-chant vocals that sum up the irresistible essence of this band.
They’re now deep into a new project that involves adding all-star guest vocals onto some of the more volatile tracks from their catalog, beginning with a Bootsy Collins appearance. “I’ve been a Bootsy Collins fan ever since I was 15,” Branston marvels. “That track we gave him, ‘Capital City,’ is one of the funkiest things we’ve ever cut. With that experience and our back catalog, you’ll see a lot more of this from us.”
With future releases and reissues with big-time rappers and funksters on the horizon, their sights are set on bringing their magic to festivals throughout the world. More sweat, more dancing … more Five Alarm Funk.
Tickets: $32 Member, $37 Non-Member (+applicable taxes & fees)