By Shem Tane
On April 19, I saw Funky Dawgz Brass Band at the Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub in Cambridge, Mass. I ended up at this specific show through multiple recommendations from friends who couldn’t stop talking about the raw energy that the band blasts out of its trumpets, trombones, saxophones and tubas. My curiosity was piqued and I headed over to see and hear for myself. This a group that has spent years performing and touring around the country building its foundation on a certain tool in a musician’s toolbox: call and response- one of the main pillars for early jazz, blues and gospel music.
The idea of call and response creates a stronger connection between the performer and the audience. This was fully on display in the Funky Dawgz’s performance as they assigned different roles to various sides of the venue, including choruses and dance moves, with band members like a nervous hostess, constantly checking to make sure people were having a good time. The set included several covers by Michael Jackson and even Rick Astley. They ended the night with a line procession off the stage and into the crowd with a rendition of “When The Saints go Marching In”, channeling the whole city of New Orleans in those last minutes of the show.
At its core Funky Dawgz draws from New Orleans jazz bands that built their talents and notoriety with parades and constantly engaging the crowd. The fact that a brass ensemble was able to energize a crowd of 50 people to mimic the excitement of an audience of 500 speaks volumes about the band’s stage presence. If you want to know more about Funky Dawgz, please visit their website at http://www.funkydawgzbrassband.com
For a list of upcoming shows at the Middle East, visit http://www.mideastoffers.com.