Band to take center stage at Design District

Funk, jazz and rock fans: You no longer have to travel 870 miles to the Big Easy or pull out Grandpa’s old Hendrix vinyl to listen to quality funk music in the 21st century.

Papa Grows Funk, a New Orleans-based funk band who has garnered national and international attention, is coming to The Stage of Miami’s Design District on Saturday for a night of smooth instrumentals, jazzy vocals and a “Nawlins”-flared sound that is reminiscent of the funk of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Consisting of some of the best funk musicians in the country, Papa Grows Funk formed in 2001 out of the Crescent City’s Old Time Bar and has become one of the city’s most popular. Without a label, the band has managed to sell 30,000 copies of their four albums, with their fifth, titled Needle in the Groove, just being released locally.

“Funk” leader John “Papa” Gros (whose nickname stemmed from a “long night of drinking for a buddy to me that”) says that the album Needle in the Groove is different from all of their previous albums in that it is more of a collective effort, rather than each musician bringing in their own sounds into studio. In addition, outside help was brought in to give the album it’s great sound.

“We now have outside producers who give their own opinion on what we should sound like. We had Tom Drummond…and Allen Toussaint…we totally respect what  they do and they influence us,” Gros said.

The funk “super group” puts out music consisting of the grooving sounds of the Hammond, the sax, the guitar and a complete rhythm section that holds its own with or without lead singer’s John Gros’ vocals.

Never creating set lists or rehearsing before shows, Funk puts out a unique concert sound at each venue. They put out around 100 shows a year, reaching notoriety from New York to France to Japan for their self-described “booty shaking music” that emulates a sliver of what Mardi Gras has become.

Citing The Meters and Fats Domino as major influences, “Funk’s” strength is in its soothing sax and exciting percussion, with the guitar and vocal s sealing its Orleans’ sound.

Gross says that the band is excited to play in Miami for only the second time.

“I know a lot of the people down there because they travel to see us. Looking forward to seeing familiar faces,” Gros said.

According to the band’s lead, “Funk” loves playing on the road to see such familiar faces and New Orleans music fans. Expecting a full house, “Papa” tells Miamians to “be prepared to dance your butt off, because we are bringing the funk.”

The Stage’s chic design and comfortable layout with its preoccupation with culture and the arts lends itself to Papa Grows Funk’s non-mainstream style.

For more information, go to thestagemiami.com or papagrowsfunk.com.

November 16, 2011


Tyler Cooney

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