by Susan Frampton / photos by Judah Gutierrez
The growing energy among Augusta's music scene is young, fun, and for all ages. It encompasses all styles and genres, and reflects a city in motion. A band with a slightly naughty name bears partial responsibility for the current vibe.
In their first full-length album, the home-grown band, Funk You, brings a great big sound to town, leaving no doubt that they came to play and fully expect us to come along for the ride. The six-piece band that started playing together in 2011 has been described as "a rich collection of talent, creativity, and emotion." Their debut album proves their collaborative efforts to be the gift that keeps on giving their fans every reason to rock on.
Band members include: lead singer, Gavin Hamilton; Will Clark on drums; Will Foster at the keyboard; Evan Miller on guitar; Palmer Owens taking on percussion; and Rob Thompson with the lowdown on bass. They all grew up in Columbia and Richmond County, but each bring their individual influences to the table. They cite a diverse collection of musical mentors, including Stevie Wonder, Phish, The Grateful Dead, and naturally the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown. With a great network at their disposal of blues, hip-hop, soul, jazz, and the grand funk that put Augusta on the music map, the band has a limitless combination of styles from which to draw.
We caught up with the band by phone as they traveled to Stephentown, New York for the Disc Jam Music Festival, where they will play at the 4-day musical gathering just over the Massachusetts line. The energy of anticipation spills over into our conversation, making it difficult to tell which one is talking on speaker phone at any given time. Their laughing camaraderie makes it obvious that the time they spend performing and touring together enables them to finish each other's sentences.
The band has not yet crossed the threshold that allows them to be full-time musicians, so they all have other jobs that they have to work around to make their annual tour dates, and it is no small task to coordinate all the schedules.
"It's like having five different girlfriends," one says, a response they all find wildly funny. "I don't like any of you that much," another shouts.
If the response to their album is any indicator, it will hopefully not be long before they are able to quit their "day jobs," as plumbers, carpenters, and the like, to concentrate on their music careers. The tracks on self-produced Apparitions reflect the maturing of their musicianship. Smart lyrics and clean vocals follow the supernatural theme of the album that moves seamlessly from one style to the next.
The band strives to be universal - yet progressive and new - a goal they easily attain with the sound they produce, and they credit Augusta with helping to build that vibe. Augusta has proven to be fertile ground for the kind of creativity that bodes well for the future, and the band is humble about the contributions they have made. "There are a lot of people doing a great job of bringing in bands and making a collective effort to grow Augusta's music community."
Wherever the future takes Funk You, and whatever springs from their collective musical consciousness, you can bet that their home town will be ready and waiting to applaud them for keeping alive the legacy of grand funk born in Augusta.