Home of the Live Music Calendar Follow STLBlues on Twitter Follow STLBlues on Facebook Home of the Live Music Calendar Live Music Is Better, Book It Here!! Live music is better, book yours now!
East Side SlimBy East Side Slim

Funky Butt Brass Band – Cut The Body Loose
Artist Released, 2009

In 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 provCD image - Funky Butt Brass Band – Cut The Body Loosee 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 public.

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.

The Songs:

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” Johnny Taylor)
--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 Zandt)
- 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 Brown)
--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 setting.

10. 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.

11. 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!

12. 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.

13. When I Die You Better Second Line – (Kermit Ruffins)
--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.

14. 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 second line.

The Verdict:

It 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.

Lee Howland - aka "East Side Slim"

The STLBluesometer

Enjoy our Blues reviews
STLBlues CD Reviews :: By band/artist first name
St. Louis based bands & musicians
More National Bands
 Live Music Calendar | Send Blues News | © STLBlues 2000 | Privacy Policy