Fred Wesley is now in his mid-sixties but still going strong blowing that funk trombone with his band the new JB’s. As the man who played for James Brown on “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” as well as co-writing and playing on “Hot Pants” and playing in the Horny Horns during the heydays of Parliament/Funkadelic, Mr. Wesley’s funk credentials are already assured.
There’s a decent sized crowd at the Old Market on this snowy February evening. We’ve been warmed up by the tunes of DJ Mick Fuller, who’s been doing his funk and soul thing for well over 20 years here in B-Town.
There’s a big cheer for Fred Wesley as he takes the stage with his band, consisting of drums, bass, trumpet, guitar and Mr. Wesley himself on trombone and vocals. The uptempo tunes they commence to play are all danceable funk fuelled jams. Some of it is more jazz influenced but most of it is gritty and raw, with call and response type vocals led by the man himself and answered by his band and the crowd. The band members each get a chance to solo and it’s obvious Fred Wesley has surrounded himself with musicians who’ve got chops.
There’s a great medley consisting of “Breakin’ Bread”, “Pass the peas” (a stone cold classic) and “Gimme some more” which had the crowd jumping from front to back. Rounding it off with “Funky good time” and “House Party” this was a tight, funky and danceable set that shows you can have the funk in your sixties and beyond. I hope he’s around to show us how it’s done for a good while to come yet. Peace!