Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Funk Band for the Common Man

Steve Penhollow

Whatzup Features Writer

Published February 2, 2017

Heads Up! This article is 6 years old.

If you want to celebrate some achievement in your life or curse some setback in Irish wake fashion, your best bet would be to get a bunch of friends together and go see the Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra.

Calling them one of Fort Wayne’s best party bands doesn’t really do justice to the excellence of their playing and the synergy among players.

But the band sure does know how to throw a party.

The Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra are releasing their first CD, Funk Band for the Common Man, and are commemorating this occasion with a party on February 4 at Columbia Street West.

Funk Band for the Common Man is a good CD to put on if you want to combat the winter blues. In six months’ time it will also be a good CD to put on if you want to celebrate having forgotten winter ever happened.

At one level, Funk Band for the Common Man is a historical tour. I hesitate to use the phrase “historical tour” because it might put people in mind of artifacts in glass cases and educational spiels delivered in low tones. This CD is not that kind of historical tour.

Instead, it pays lively homage to every epoch of funk music: the James Brown era; the Earth, Wind and Fire era; the Minneapolis sound; Rick James’ punk funk; and the dawn of hip-hop.

Anchoring most of the songs is the excellent rapping of bandleader Aaron King. I am the last person anyone seeking hip-hop expertise would want to go to, but King’s writing and performing work here transcends the ignorance of people like me. He is unquestionably dazzling.

Other members are Tony Didier, Jason Westerman, Drake Bates, Miguel Burney, Jamont Simmons and Dave Latchaw.

Highlights of the CD are “Ain’t Nobody Funking Around,” which evokes (for me) Kool & the Gang, and the title track, which seems reminiscent of the atmospheric seventies soundtrack work of Herbie Hancock or Lalo Schifrin.

This is a muscular and meaty release performed impeccably. Hopefully, it’s the first of many to come.

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