East Side Slim
Funky Butt Brass Band – Cut The Body Loose
Artist Released, 2009
case any of you (especially folks close residing
close to St. Louis) didn’t yet know, there’s
a great funky brass band working the St. Louis area
– the Funky Butt Brass Band. Their live shows
are guaranteed to be a great time, and now you can
bring a piece of the band into your home (without
booking the band for a private party!) with the
new CD, 'Cut The Body Loose'.
The band consists of 6 musicians: Matt Brinkman,
sousaphone (the big tuba you stand inside
to play); Aaron Chandler, trombone and vocals;
Tim Halpin, guitar and vocals;
Adam Hucke, trumpet and vocals;
Ben Reece, sax and vocals; and
Ron Sikes, all forms of percussion.
The band really isn’t slavish to the New Orleans
brass band standard, but is thoroughly influenced
by it, infusing the sound into the band’s
eclectic musical palette.
The CD contains 14 tracks, 2 of which are band originals.
The arrangements on the remaining songs veer from
heartfelt adorations to highly unexpected rearrangements,
with the boys tackling 2 songs from the Townes Van
Zandt songbook, and other tunes from Professor Longhair,
King Curtis, Sonny Boy Williamson, and many others.
One thing the Funky Butters prove
here is that you don’t have to be from, or
living in, New Orleans to feel the funk. Their take
on funky brass band music might just make traditional
brass band music more accessible to the general
The CD is a total package, folks. Everything here
is 1st-class: song selection, musicianship, arrangements,
production and engineering, and artwork. Also, I
think the band has a definite contender for Best
Song at the Independent Music Awards with their
song Hey Yeah. Another St. Louis-based band, Alvin
Jett and Phat Noiz Blues Band had great success
at these same awards in 2007, winning for best blues
song of 2007. It would be great to see a repeat
of that success for the Funky Butt Brass Band.
1. Go To The Mardi Gras – (Henry Roeland
Byrd, aka Professor Longhair)
--If you’re going to form a band around New
Orleans funk and brass, you darn well better play
some Professor Longhair! This is a fairly faithful
version of The Professor’s classic tribute
to the Mardi Gras. A lot of the lyrical references
will be foreign to many of you, and were to me until
I read Dr. John’s autobiography. If you would
like to learn more about the culture of New Orleans
and the Mardi Gras, read this book.
2. Bourbon Street Parade – (Paul Barbarin)
--This syncopated funky song is played in the brass
form many of you are familiar with, with the possible
exception of the fact that if features quite of
bit of rhythm guitar chording work. As the Funky
Butt boys aren’t carrying 7 or 8 brass pieces,
the rhythm guitar work helps fill out the sound
of the band.
3. If You Love Me Like You Say – (“Little”
--This is the first tune on the CD that falls into
more of a blues/R&B vibe than a brass band thing.
But that’s ok, as the song sounds great and
helps to keep the proceedings interesting. Variety
can be the spice of life, and it sure is spicy here.
4. Ain’t Leavin’ Your Love
– (Townes Van Zandt)
--This is an up-tempo funky number with several
nice solo runs by the members of the horn section,
especially the trumpeter, and some fantastic stick
work by the drummer.
5. Stank – (Ron Sikes, from the FBBB)
--This song is written by band’s percussionist,
Ron Sikes. It’s pure funk on a jazzy edge,
not unlike most of what has come out of New Orleans
over the years. Once again, most every horn player
gets a little solo space. Dis one gon’ make
yo’ butt be fonky!
6. Shake Your Rugalator – (Craig Klein)
--This is another funky one (surprise!) driven along
with some fancy percussion work and strong rhythm
guitar chording. The lyric is pretty straightforward,
and mostly in place to provide a few breaks in-between
long instrumental-only passages. There is also some
cool solo space reserved for the sax player here,
a nice surprise since a lot of the horn solos on
the disc fell to the trumpeter.
7. St. Louis Blues – (W.C. Handy,
arrangement by Peter Cincotti)
--Oh no, another version of this classic, but yet
warhorse, tune - and I say that liking the song.
In fact, it’s the ring tone on my cell phone.
That said this FBBB arrangement is one of the freshest
takes I’ve heard of this old warhorse tune
in years. Very nice guitar chording, a great bass
line courtesy of the sousaphone, some greasy sax
work…this is extremely cool. I like it, and
you had better like it, too!
8. Gone, Gone Blues – (Townes Van
- OK, this one isn’t really a brass band tune.
It’s basically a swampy blues: dirty, greasy,
grindin’, slinky – it oozes fonk! For
some reason it appeals to me; can you tell?
9. Palm Court Strut – (Danny Barker/Pud
--It sure sounds like a jazzy, funky, adult version
of the hanky-panky to me. Well, that’s because
that is exactly what it is – the hanky-panky.
Put your left foot in, take your left foot out…
I bet this tune really goes over well in a live
Soul Serenade – (Curtis Ousley, aka King Curtis)
--Ah, the fabulous King Curtis composition, so well-know
to St. Louisans via Oliver Sain. This song has a
beautiful melody, and the Funky Butt boys keep that
in mind. They take things slow and easy, emphasizing
the melody, moving the horns in and around each
other, slowly building the intensity of the tune.
It also allows the saxophone to be featured again;
very nice indeed.
Hey Yeah – (Ron Sikes/Tim Halpin, from FBBB)
--This Funky Butt original tune is one that will
make you think. Listen carefully to the lyrics.
While the melody has a gentle, Caribbean-feel, the
words are a little more pointed. On the surface
the cut may seem nothing but a drinking song, but
on close inspection it shows itself to be a commentary
on the social ills facing most of us today –
government bailouts, climbing tax rates, unemployment,
home foreclosure, etc… The boys should definitely
consider entering this song in the Independent Music
Awards song of the year competition, along with
the album itself. Another St. Louis-based band,
Alvin Jett and Phat Noize Blues Band, did this a
couple years back with great results and response.
Hey Yeah is a fantastic tune!
One Way Out – (Rice “Sonny Boy Williamson”
Miller/Marshall Sehorn/Elmore James)
--This song might be more familiar to many of you
by another name - “(It’s a) Man Down
There”. This is a hard-edged up-tempo version
of the tune, not unlike the versions you might’ve
heard from the early Allman Brothers or the Butterfield
Blues Band. Rice Miller’s (Sonny Boy Williamson
II) version is still my favorite, but the Funky
Butters acquit themselves just fine here.
When I Die You Better Second Line – (Kermit
--The guys are firmly back in New Orleans territory
here, covering a Kermit Ruffins song. The title
about says it all; if that’s not New Orleans,
I don’t know what is. This track rides a mid-tempo
groove, with nice guitar comping, fun background
vocals, and fine horn work from all involved.
Rainy Day By The Riverside – (Bob Dylan/Traditional)
--This is a combination of Bob Dylan’s “Rainy
Day Women # 12 & 35” and the traditional
tune “Down By The Riverside.” This may
well be the slowest, most dirge-like version of
Dylan’s tune I’ve ever heard and it’s
also one of my favorite versions! The band uses
this medley to display exactly what a New Orleans
second line really is. You get the slow, martial
sounds of a funeral procession during the longer
first section of the song (Dylan’s portion
of the medley.) Around the 5 minute mark things
begin to change, and the song shifts gears into
a tone of revelry and celebration, as stated in
the liner notes “after the dearly departed
is laid to rest – cutting the body loose”,
celebrating the life of the loved one. This IS the
can be very difficult to make a band’s live
performance energy come across on a studio CD –
sometime “the feel” is lost. This studio
recording – Cut The Body Loose - captures
all the vibrant energy and feel of this band musical
style, which is usually best enjoyed in a live setting.
The Funky Butt Brass Band is certainly best enjoyed
live – it’s always a party when Funky
Butts are playing – but this CD will definitely
fill in nicely when you want a dose of the band
during the day - or night - or at your next party.
I’m assigning a rating of 4.0 on the STLBluesometer
scale for this CD. I am looking forward to more
albums from the band, and especially to more original
material on any future releases from the Funky Butt
Brass Band. Of course, if they continue with their
highly inventive arrangements, even their cover
songs end up sounding like band originals.
- aka "East