Stones Throw Soul Tour
Peanut Butter Wolf, Dam-Funk
The Stepkids, Myron & E, The Doobie Sisters
308 N. 2nd Ave.
Phoenix, AZ, 85003
Known as Los Angeles' "Ambassador of Boogie Funk," Dãm-Funk represents the citizens of the Funkmosphere. Headquartered in the Leimert Park section of L.A., Dãm (pronounced: 'Dame' as in Damon) spent the last few years cultivating a musical renaissance rooted in the early-'80s styles known as Boogie, Modern Soul and Electro-Funk.
The next phase of the Ambassador's mission is his debut album Toeachizown: continuing the classic West Coast tradition into today's scene with Dãm's own original "Modern-Funk" compositions. By plugging in his arsenal of vintage synths and drum machines, Dãm channels the galactic harmonies of his inspiration into his own brand of new boogie. Stones Throw Records' like-minded honcho Peanut Butter Wolf brought Dãm on to the team to glide into the future with his unique, synth and bass-driven vibe. It's a promising new chapter for Southern Cali space funk.
The Stepkids are futuristic electro soul recorded on a reel-to-reel; soaring harmonies sung by three singer/songwriters; Kandinsky-esque visuals that make for enigmatic live performances.
"A lot of what excites us about this band is this band itself," says bassist and keyboardist Dan Edinberg. "It's not either of us; it's about creating an entity where the entity itself is what's important."
It's an approach that comes from more than a decade of musical experimentation. Raised on the East Coast jazz and R&B circuit, individual band members went on to share stages with 50 Cent and Lauryn Hill, tour internationally with indie punk band Zox, score movies and commercials, and produce solo albums. However, it was an interest in creating an aesthetic identity which supersedes conventional pop notions of stardom and self-importance that ultimately drew them together.
The Stepkids groove is a startling, yet sexy, fusion of punk, jazz, West African
traditional, 1960s folk, neo and classic soul, classic funk and 20th century classical; think T.Rex meets Sun Ra, Sly Stone meets Stravinsky, and Dylan meets Dilla. Philosophy and literature provide a conceptual schematic, from existential musings ("Legend in My Own Mind"), to the work of Charles Bukowski ("La La") and Plato's theoretical "Allegory of the Cave" ("Shadows on Behalf"). Add to this a vested interest in the recording process, and you have an imaginative album of Technicolor brilliance expertly self-engineered and self-produced. Live, kaleidoscopic projections by experimental video artist Jesse Mann consume the stage with light for a multi-sensory experience.
And every song on the Stepkids self-titled debut album is written with equal input from each member.
"All three of us write and all three of us sing," says Jeff Gitelman, who resigned from touring as Alicia Keys' guitarist to concentrate full-time on recording the Stepkids self-titled debut album.
"There's an equal split in the creative process, and we're really happy about that," says drummer Tim Walsh. "Any lyric, any melody, any idea could have been done by any of us."
There's no singular icon, no singular sound, and no singular way of making it happen for the Stepkids. It's psychedelia for the 21st century, where the focus is on the whole – and that includes you.
Myron & E
The vocal duo is something of a rarity. There have been countless solo stars, trios, quartets and quintets, but the pairing of equally talented singers isn't nearly as common. Sam and Dave, Ashford and Simpson, the Righteous Brothers and the Everly Brothers comprise a short list of standouts. Enter Myron & E.
Myron (Myron Glasper) was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. He sang in choirs and played piano growing up, and was a star athlete in football and track, but found his calling as a dancer. Working with Rosie Perez landed him on the early '90s sketch comedy show In Living Color. During those years, however, the streets of South Central were no place to foster creativity, so Myron moved to the Bay and began touring as a backup singer, which is where he met E (Eric "E da Boss" Cooke).
E, a native of Newark, New Jersey, got his first taste of music by playing records during family card games and fish frys. As a teen, he began collecting records of his own and DJing, hanging at the Music Factory and Rock and Soul in New York City. After relocating to southwest Virginia, he graduated high school and began DJing parties, which allowed him to invest in an Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard, two Technics turntables and an eight-track recorder.
The two began working together while on the road with the Bay Area's Blackalicious, and shortly after, E released an independent record as E da Boss. While touring in Finland behind his solo project, E found himself in an impromptu jam session with members of The Soul Investigators, whose work with singer Nicole Willis helped define them as one of Europe's foremost retro-soul bands.
Investigators producer Didier Selin was impressed enough to leave E with several unfinished tracks. Back in the U.S., E recruited Myron as a singing and songwriting partner, and Myron & E was born.
Myron & E and the Soul Investigators released a string of excellent funk 45s on the Timmion label—starting with 2008's "Cold Game"/"I Can't Let You Get Away"—before signing with Stones Throw last year. Since then, Myron & E have been focused on building their live performance, which includes sold-out shows before even having a full-length release and a stellar showing at SXSW. "We showed up to show out and that's what we did," E says of their SXSW appearance.
Myron & E are proud to be releasing their debut album, Broadway, this summer. For the album, the Soul Investigators provided demos from overseas with the duo stationed on the west coast writing the lyrics and singing all the vocals. E, in particular, has a practice of sending YouTube links of classic soul and R&B songs to the band to provide inspiration for recreating that vibe. One such link was to Edwin Starr's "Running Back and Forth." The Soul Investigators responded with "Everyday Love."
"I don't really think there's anybody else that can do it as good as they can," E says about the band. "They do it like none other."