Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Today: The first Funk Rumble Block Party in Chinatown

July 11, 2009 | 11:37 am

Although the contemporary conception of the summertime block party may have been birthed in the Big Apple, Los Angeles has recently made inroads with the continual evolution and expansion of Sunset Junction and the Echo Park, Topanga Canyon and Eagle Rock music festivals.* As of today, the scene gets even more teeming, with the debut of the Funk Rumble Block Party in Chinatown.

Organized by local promoters Flock Shop and Spectrumega, the annual party boasts a litany of the city's finest funk outfits and DJs, rocking four stages scattered across Broadway. Hosted by KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole, the event also features an art walk and a mini-indie film festival. With admission priced at a recession-ready $5 before 4 p.m. and $8 after, the city’s newest festival figures to be a worthy addition to an already crowded slate, and easily its funkiest.

Below the jump, a breakdown of the top acts getting down today, and ensuring that although the Bronx may have created it, Los Angeles will keep on shaking it.

Breakestra (8:30 p.m.-9:40 p.m.)

Often labeled Los Angeles’ finest funk outfit, Stones Throw-affiliated Breakestra is the city's answer to the Daptone Records crowd, crafting an irrepressibly soulful sound capable of making the tone deaf start toe-tapping. A 10-piece outfit formed by guitarist-bassist-producer Miles Tackett, Breakestra has graced the stage with practically every indie hip-hop luminary, in addition to regularly holding down the venerable Tackett-promoted Funky Sole and Root Down nights. It has a fall release slated to drop on revival powerhouse Strut Records. If you can't groove to Breakestra, you probably don't have a pulse.

The Lions (7 p.m.-8 p.m.)

The roots and dub-inflected reggae of Los Angeles’ own Lions, a spinoff of Breakestra, have been lauded by journalists from the O.C. to Orlando, Fla. And for good reason: Full of sunny day slink and sweet smoke, the Lions' languid and lovely melodies channel Kingston’s finest. Indeed, any Studio One and Black Ark acolyte will find the Lions eminently enjoyable, preferably after indulging in some Proposition 215-approved medicine.

Orgone (5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.)

The Wilhelm Reich-coined word “orgone” refers to a universal life force, a cosmic unit of energy, the creative force in nature. The members of North Hollywood-based Orgone seek to define themselves in those mystical terms, and judging from the seamless interplay evidenced on their debut album, “The Killion Floor,” little hyperbole is involved. Studio veterans who have recently recorded with Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Estelle and Anthony Hamilton, Orgone pulls equal parts from classic Stax soul and Nigerian Afro-beat. The result is a polyglot and polychromatic funk that succeeds in achieving its desired universalism.

J-Boogie’s Dubtronic Science (3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m)

Stitching together salsa, soul, reggae and hip-hop, San Francisco’s J-Boogie enumerates Thievery Corporation, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Ra, Pete Rock, Ozomatli, Jurassic 5, DJ Shadow, RJD2 and King Tubby as his chief influences, amounting to a genre-less sound defying classification. His latest Om Records release, “Soul Vibrations,” features guest spots from underground linchpins Lyrics Born, Zion I, Crown City Rockers and Ohmega Watts. Indicative of the Bay Area’s endemic eclecticism, J-Boogie’s blend of sound seems destined to mesh among Los Angeles’ melting pot.

-- Jeff Weiss

 * The last of which occurs in October but should count, thanks to the consistently warm weather.