This weekend: Funky Sole to celebrate the release of 'California Funk' at the Echoplex
That’s not to say our fair state is devoid of funk legends: the Bay Area gave the world Sly and the Family Stone and Tower of Power, while L.A. boasted Dyke and the Blazers and Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band (never mind that almost all those groups were made up of transplants rather than native Californians).
However, when it comes to the kind of regional scenes that have become the obsession of funk collectors over the last 15 years, awareness of California’s contributions has notably lagged behind such powerhouse states as Ohio, Texas and Florida.
There have been attempts at remedying this, most notably by Costa Mesa’s Ubiquity Records, which put two volumes in their Bay Area Funk series, plus a more R&B-oriented series called California Soul. However, a joint venture between L.A.’s Now-Again and London’s Jazzman Records has produced the most ambitious attempt yet at asserting Cali’s claim to funk fame: "California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From the Golden State."
If you’ve never heard of bands like L.A. Bare Faxx, J.G.D. and the New Breed or Mr. Clean & the Soul Inc., that’s the point: "California Funk’s" 21 tracks are stocked with releases that were originally released in pressings in the hundreds -- and in some cases, are the sole artifacts that these bands ever existed.
As you might expect, L.A. figures heavily, with few other acts as “local” as Larry Spikes' and Joe Combs’ California Gold Notes, who recorded their JBs-influenced “W.B. 302” inside a converted garage in the South Bay city of Carson. However, the compilation makes it a point to cover a broad stylistic and geographic range, one that can include Stockton’s impressively named Enrique Olivarez Y Los Vampiros and their jaunty, organ-heavy tune “Arriba Tipo” alongside Sacramento jazz outfit John Heartsman & Circle, dropping their hyperactive soul tune “Talking About My Baby.”
Since 2001, one of the few places along the Pacific that you could hear these kinds of songs has been Funky Sole, the premier funk/soul party in L.A., founded by Now-Again’s Eothen “Egon” Alapatt and Breakestra’s Miles Tackett. Alapatt will be this week’s special guest at Funky Sole (he hasn’t been a resident DJ there since 2008), and in celebration of the "California Funk" release, you can expect to hear all kinds of Golden State gems to complement the songs on the new anthology. Who knows? Maybe some of them will eventually find their way to a "California Funk Vol. 2."
-- Oliver Wang
Funky Sole with special guest Eothen “Egon” Alapatt, Saturday, Echoplex, 1822 Sunset Blvd., 10 p.m.-2 a.m., free.