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Tweed Funk: Come Together

James Nadal By

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The world is about to tune into what has been Milwaukee's best kept secret. Tweed Funk is a high-powered, horn driven ensemble that has been winner of Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) awards since their 2010 formation. Come Together is their fourth release on the Tweed Tone label, and is a seamless combination of top tier musicians fronted by an energetic vocalist.

Joseph "Smokey" Holman is the kind of soul singer all bands are looking for, and only one is lucky to get. Listening to this music for a lifetime, he sang in Memphis for the Hi label, tried to get a shot at Motown in Detroit, recorded for Curtis Mayfield in Chicago, then disappeared from the scene. Surfacing amidst the Milwaukee soul revival in 1994, he kept at it until hooking up with Tweed Funk brought it back around.

The band is a determined outfit who writes all their material, and is musically prepared as any working jazz group around, except they play funky soul. Propelled by veteran bassist Eric Madunic, guitarist JD Optekar, and anchored by drummer Dave Schoepke, they feature the horn section of Andrew Spadafora on saxophones, and trumpet man Doug Woolverton.

The cohesiveness is obvious from "Light Up The Night," bringing up the vintage sound of the Stax era. The horns introduce the gospel inspired "Don't Give Up," accented by rising organ riffs, and stimulating female chorus, courtesy of The Whiskeybelles, who contribute on four other tracks. "Muse," takes the funk into the street, before they lighten it up with "Sweet Music," Holman's poignant tale of a man saved by the songs in his heart. If it is in the ballads that a true soul singer is defined, "Embrace," and "Bullet," leave no doubt that Holman is for real. They give some room to the trumpeter and sax man on the instrumental "Who Is This," then get on the good foot with "Love Ain't Easy," a classic retro-soul slider with requisite greasy bass. They go out as they came in, with the solid "Soul Rockin," a self-explained number exhibiting controlled tension in the groove.

There has been a positive trend in the music industry concerning the revitalization of soul music. Whether or not it is due to the popularity cycles in music, it has been a boom for those bands and singers who can perform and record this music with legitimacy. Tweed Funk is out on the road playing numerous gigs from small clubs to large stage venues, and are reaping the results as the word gets out beyond their local turf. In show business it's not only what you do, it's how you do it, and these guys do it right.

Track Listing: Light Up the Night; Don’t Give Up; Muse; Sweet Music; Come Together; Embrace; Who Is This; Love Ain’t Easy; Bullet; Soul Rockin.

Personnel: Joseph “Smokey” Holman: lead vocals; Eric Madunic: bass, Hammond organ (1, 2); Rhodes piano (6); guitar (8); vocals (8); Dave Schoepke: drums, percussion; Andrew Spadafora: tenor sax, bari sax (8); Doug Woolverton: trumpet; JD Optekar: guitar; Chrissy Dzioba: backing vocals; Sara Moilanen: backing vocals.

Title: Come Together | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Tweed Tone Records


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