The Equifunk Music Festival is a grassroots, funk-oriented festival held on the pristine grounds of a summer camp in the Pennsylvania Poconos. The festival has reached its fifth year by staying true to their model of offering festival goers a one-of-a-kind experience without ripping money from wallets at every given chance. The all-inclusive food & beer weekend has cabins, camping, and a state of the art indoor/outdoor stage. Best of all, you can beat the heat at a day-long, live band pool party. Equifunk’s business model is what makes it a unique gathering, and certainly an interesting case study. Here is their “cost-to-fun ratio analysis” of their festival vs. bigger name brand festivals.
With a lineup that matures year after year, Equifunk is staged to change music festivals the same way Billy Bean changed baseball. If it wasn’t, it would have disappeared years ago like Vegoose, Nateva and Langerado (twice!). Most of the music you will find at Equifunk is the stuff bred in the beer-soaked bars of Chicago and the muddy banks of the Mississippi River Delta; eminently danceable across generations. It’s downright refreshing. Here is a band-by-band breakdown of what to expect this year if you attend. The festival is happening from August 17 - 19 and tickets are still available at www.equifunk.com.
Galactic feat Corey Glover:
Why they’re funky Galactic wrote the book on keeping New Orleans funk relevant by evolving with popular music and not pigeonholing their sound. Basically, if you can dance to it, Galactic can play it, and play it well. Hip hop, jazz, blues, electronic, and rock are all anchored in a thick bed of NOLA funk. At Equifunk they will be fronted by Corey Glover, as they have been since 2010. As a member of the rock fusion band, Living Colour, Glover has proven he has the pipes to keep up with this all-star group. This will, no doubt, be an incredible show.
What to expect: Be prepared for a generous set of genre exploration, rhythmically rooted by drum hero Stanton Moore. When they play “Shibuya”, get ready to either go all out, or gracefully visit the restroom if you’re not game.
Why they’re funkyThey’re not! Well that’s not entirely true—but compared to the flavor of classic horn and porn funk being thrown around by the other bands, Suckerpunch is a strong palette jump. Comprised by key members of The Disco Biscuits, Lotus and The New Deal, the livetronica act is a supergroup that has been dormant for nearly ten years.
What to expect: This is Jamie Shield’s first string of shows since The New Deal disbanded in January and some of the Biscuit-related songs actually evolved from the Suckerpunch side project. With the Brownstein/Greenfield combo holding down the rhythm section and Shields/Manger pumping synths and keys, anything goes. There is little doubt that they will bring the late dance party night fire.
Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk:
Why they’re funky What’s in a name? Bill Shakespeare would argue, not much. But when that name is Neville, The Bard would even agree, it probably means you’ve got funk and soul written in your DNA. Son to Aaron Neville, and nephew to members of The Neville Brothers, Ivan had little choice about having rhythm. Fortunately he has embraced it, and formed a band called Dumpstaphunk.
What to expect: Old school R&B vocals in action, backed by a band of real musicians who are a testament to NOLA’s strength and resilience. This will be a treat to the purists and newcomers alike.
Why they’re funky If Superfly was remade about a modern day spy, Orgone would be the perfect band to replace the Curtis Mayfield’s masterpiece of a soundtrack. These guys sound like a 1970’s funk band that you somehow missed in your dad’s record collection.
What to expect: Orgone has a gritty taste you won’t find in most super-smooth funk groups. Their sparsely lyriced sound carries a west coast vibe that slinks over you and forces you into the groove. Orgone has been around for a little over a decade and has spent some time backing hip-hop groups and cutting their teeth out on the open road. These guys opened for Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, so you can expect high energy and some jaw dropping performances pouring out of the ten-piece band.
Why they’re funky Electronic music should never be boxed out of the funk category, especially these days, when literally everything is electronic in one way or another. If it makes you move, and it comes from a more organic place than the robot vomit ruling the airwaves, then “funk” is an appropriate name for it. RAC is a group of remix artists and DJs that utilize synths, vintage drum samples, and other gizmos in a live setting, which ends up creating a deft blend of all-out dance music and indie pop.
What to expect: Expect to dance. Expect to want more. Expect to download everything they’ve ever remixed after the show.
The Pimps of Joytime:
Why they’re funky Well for starters, they’ve invented their own style called ‘Janxta Funk (part gangsta, party janky)—so they’re pretty funky. Assembled by Brian J in 2005, ‘Pimps’ is an eclectic group of vocalists and musicians whose hometown influences are so far reaching that their sound is almost more of a concept then a discernible genre type. On a single track they can blend Latin rhythms through New Orleans ragtime while incorporating layers of Caribbean calypso over a DJ sample straight out of Brooklyn.
What to expect: Expect to dance harder than the stoop kids in Spanish Harlem when they first heard Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine. Pimps of Joytime has been tearing up the U.S., playing hundreds of shows and major festivals. Their live cohesion and room control is at its absolute peak as they wind down the summer tour circuit. Expect to be surprised, then enamoured and eventually very sad that they only played for two hours.
Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds:
Why they’re funky Sheer manpower can go a long way onstage, but it can be an unwieldy beast if not well-rehearsed and organized. Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds are a nine-piece band that beautifully comes together on tight, funky, rock compositions. Their songs sound like Susan Tedeschi took over for John Popper as singer of Blues Traveler, but Popper still sits in the back adding his signature harmonica fills. These guys are catchy, fun, and talented.
What to expect: You’re in for a satisfying set of funk and blues songs that actually have some structure. There will be jamming, for sure, but these guys can really craft danceable and memorable tunes. Arleigh Kincheloe is one of those powerful female voices that leaves you dumbstruck and staring at the stage.
Bustle In Your Hedgerow:
Why they’re funky This band is a supergroup consisting of four prodigies playing instrumental Led Zeppelin covers. No other keyboard player is experimenting right now quite like Marco Benevento. Joe Russo has garnered the nickname “The Madness” behind the drumkit for his complex and unrelenting rhythms. Dave Dreiwitz brought the low end to the diverse songs of Ween for years. Finally, guitarist Scott Metzger plays guitar in the criminally underrated band RANA.
What to expect: Almost everyone who loves music has gone through a Led Zeppelin phase at some point. This will be four ridiculously talented musicians re-embracing their Zep phase so you can re-embrace yours in turn. In short, it will amazing.
The Main Squeeze:
Why they’re funky The Main Squeeze a.k.a Bloomington Indiana’s Best Band is a group of hard working motherfunkers. Few words can capture the absolute onslaught of energy between this band and their crowd. Their cover choices range from Stevie Wonder, the Allman Brothers Band, Strauss and Jay-Z and their stage presence has that raw style that made funk ever seem cool in the first place.
What to expect: The Main Squeeze barely had a website last year and have since released an album, played Bonnaroo, won the Venetian Jazz & Blues festival in Macau, China, won the Rolling Stone Magazine local band competition AND subsequently opened for Janes Addiction & The Roots. These guys are going to work hard as hell to ensure you know their name at the end of their set. Expect them to kick you right in the ass.
// Notes from the Road
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