A while back I put in motion a trip over Veterans Day weekend. The trip would involve a couple of cities and two bands. The first leg was Seattle and the second was Denver. The good thing about The New Mastersounds show in Seattle was it was a part of their west coast tour. They were playing Portland as part of the same tour. I saw them last on the east coast for their winter tour and thought it would be fitting to catch as many shows as possible on this west coast fall tour.
The Portland show was a no brainier honestly as this is in my back yard. I was so existed you would have thought I would have a better plan then I did. My whole night was planned around just getting to the Wonder Ballroom and seeing what happens. I did a map search and noticed there would be plenty to keep my occupied before the show.
First thing is always food. On the same block as the theater was Russell St. BBQ. Some really decent BBQ here let me tell you. I got the port shoulder without sauce and I am glad I did. It had a great smoke flavor that was pronounced but not overpowering. It was a little dry but not a deal breaker by any means. Sides all traditional and very good. I wish I could have stayed for dessert but I was so full I had to skip it. I let my dessert be beer.
Not very far from everywhere was Ex Novo Brewing Co.. I had plenty of time to kill before the show so ponied up for a couple of beers here. Really cool place I must say. Serves food and has a second floor. You can see the brewery making equipment right from the bar which was cool. Decent beer with lots to explore on the menu. I was actually able to see the Trail Blazers game and unfortunately they lost that night to the Memphis Grizzles.
I honestly spent to much time at Ex Novo but it was a good hanging out. Kung Fu was opening and started at 8:30 that night. I unfortunately missed their set completely because I was to busy drinking beer. I just didn’t feel like standing around waiting for The New Mastersounds, the brewery was a much better option.
The Wonder Ballroom really just is four walls and a roof. Very simple design, I can’t stress that enough. The front part of the building is large enough for a ticket booth and bathrooms, that is it. There is a very small second balcony area that looks rickety as hell. There is a downstairs bar and smoking area but I didn’t get a chance to explore that area. Certainly an interesting place to see a concert.
The New Mastersounds kicked ass that night. Another great performance by the band. As a change of pace Simon Allen was back at drums. The last few shows I have seen of The New Mastersounds have been with Alan Evans which was awesome to see him sit in. Many of the same classic songs I am use to with the same energy as always. They actually mentioned there was no official setlist for the night, they were going to just going with the flow of the audience. Their song catalog is now large enough they can play nearly two hours without fear of repeating anything or losing the vibe.
Another great performance by The New Mastersounds and a good evening out. I found another great BBQ place in Portland and another brewery checked off my list. I am excited to see them again in two days in Seattle which should be a great time as well.
Back in November I planned on seeing WSP in Asheville but that fell through. As I was looking for my next travel adventure I saw the The New Mastersounds were playing the Orange Peel as their tour closer in Asheville and I was in. As I started doing my research on the town I was getting more excited.
For years I have been a fan of The New Mastersounds and their particular brand of funk. Many years ago I saw them at the 8×10 and later that same year at the State Theatre. At both shows I was blown away by the rhythm and soul of the band. As soon as they started playing I just couldn’t help but get up and dance, it was infections. The show at the Orange Peel was similar but also a lot different. It had been almost 8 years since I last saw them and the band has definitely evolved. I have kept up with their new albums over the years and for the most part they are all darn good.
Tonight’s show was a co-headline with Turkuaz who opened the show that night. I have heard a few of their songs on Jam On and they played this years Lockn’ Festival which I caught most of and it was pretty good. Not exactly my thing but the crowd was eating it up. Throughout The New Mastersounds set various members of Turkuaz sat in to lend a hand. They had vocalists and in particular they had members from the horn section laying down the beats. What truly blew me away was that Alan Evans from Soulive was the drummer all night. Not exactly sure what happened to the original drummer or if Alan was covering all tour but it was awesome to see him again.
This was not just a trip to see The New Mastersounds but also to see what Asheville had to offer. I have heard this town is great for hippies and is very open and welcoming. North Carolina I don’t really think of as progressive but Asheville is certainly leaps and bounds ahead of the most of the state. The whole time I was there I felt very at home and at ease. This is certainly a town where I fit in. One thing in particular that struck me was the number of breweries. I swear there must be a law but there seemed to be a brewery on every block, sometimes two. There are so many some are tucked down dead end allies.
I had already scoped out a few places to drink before coming down. When I checked in at the hotel they wanted to hand me a guide but I told her I was all prepared. I even talked beer with a very sweet old lady at a craft shop who was selling me on going to the Asheville Brewing Company for beer and pizza. Doing my research I certainly wanted to hit up the Funkatorium which specializes in sour/wild ales. I have been a fan of this style for many years so when I found they had 20+ beers on tap of nothing but sour I was excited. The brewery is run by Wicked Weed Brewing which coincidentally has their main brewery right next to the Orange Peel which was awesome in it own right.
After arriving to Asheville I walked around the city for a while and stopped by Bhramari Brewing Company as my first brewery. Like many of the breweries they have a great outdoor patio with ample seating on the inside. Here I sat down for a glass of Street Busker and Molly’s Lips. Both of which I thought were excellent. I kinda screwed myself by going directly to the bar to get my first drink so the servers avoided me like the plaque. So I skipped this place to order food and headed to find something to eat.
I stumbled across The Blackbird and their burger which was amazing. After reading the description I was excited to try it but all I could find on their menu was wine and this was a beer trip. I should have looked at the bar first but when I finally did I noticed the beer taps. The food was great, service excellent and the atmosphere was swanky which was a change of pace for me. After finishing my meal it was off to Wicked Weed for a quick beer before the show. I was surprised at how busy the place was. There were several bouncers outside and when I first passed by they had a line waiting to get into the place. You would think it was a night club but they just serve beer. The top level was busy as shit so I went down to the tap room and got my beer there, hanging outside while I people watched and enjoyed my Pillow Talker. She was so good to me that night.
The next morning I did my normal thing of finding a local coffee shop and sitting down to write some letters to friends and family about my adventure. High Five a few blocks from the hotel was the perfect spot to collect my thoughts and kill some time before the Funkatorium opened a noon. I got the Cubano which all I really got from the barista was it had a crap ton of espresso. Still with some time to kill I walked around downtown in the light rain visiting several art shops and a chocolatier I found.
Finally noon came and the Funkatorium was open. They use a special yeast to give the beer a sour flavor and it requires some aging in wooden barrels to get the flavors right. Generally 12 to 18 months of aging and as a bonus when bottle you can age them for several more years. Because of aging there is a significant investment in time and money when making sour beers. I believe this is one reason it hasn’t yet taken off in the country but the Funkatorium had some foresight and started their operations years ago to get ahead of the craze.
For me this place was a mecca. I booked a brewery tour for 1pm but arrived early to get one drink in before we got down to serious business. I have been on brewery tours before but this was the first one dedicated to the wild ale craft. I was simply blown away by our guide Jessie and his knowledge of the process. Wild ales are also know as lambics but just like champagne, they can only come from a certain area in Belgium to be called lambic. Produced in any other area they are simple sour or wild ales. When you walk into the back of the warehouse you will be shocked at the number of barrels they have aging beer. The warehouse is stacked floor to ceiling with barrels of all types. They have grown so much they are working on building a dedicated brewing facility for distribution but the Funkatorium will remain open for small batch and experimental beers.
With the finally brewery under my belt it was time to head home. The weather was still crappy but thankfully only rained a little on my way out of town, no ice this time. Asheville was a great place to visit and catch a show. The restaurants are great and if you are a beer lover, this is certainly the place. I found out it is the water that makes the beer here so good. No special processing or filtration required. Just get a connection to the city water supply and start brewing. I will definitely have to come back to do a tour of more local breweries.
The New Mastersounds
Saturday, December 17th 2016
The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
Set 1 (starts at 11:05pm)
1. Monday Meters
2. Way Out West
4. In the Middle
5. Flimsy Lewis
6. Sitting On My Knees
7. Will it Go Round in Circles#
8. I am Somebody%
9. Turn this Thing Around^
10. Jan Jan&
11. Never Did I Ever@
13. One Note Brown
Set over at 12:24am
Encore: 14. On the Border*
house lights at 12:44am
Alan Evans on drums all night.
# – with horns from Turkuaz and Josh on vocals
% – with Greg from Turkuaz
^ – with Sammi and horns
& – with Michelangelo Carubba on drums and Turkuaz horns
@ – with Shira and horns
! – with both Sammi and Shira and horns
* – with Turkuaz and with bass player & drummer from Turkuaz
** – with Turkuaz and with bass player & drummer from New Mastersounds
I was very excited when I found out the New Mastersounds were coming back to town. I saw them in early January up at the 8×10 and it was a great show. A small club nicely packed with people that danced the night away to rhythmic beats. So when I saw they where playing a slew of shows in the area I jumped at the chance to see them at the State Theatre. They were playing the 8×10 the following night, but I decided to hedge my beats and catch the show closer to home on a Thursday.
Just like the first show at the 8×10, tickets were only $12 (playbill), a steel for any show, and with that ticket price it didn’t take much arm twisting to get Jeremy interested. After the show in Baltimore I got a few albums and let him listen, he was hooked. Then when I found the set posted on the Archive I gave him a copy to enjoy and for me to reminisce.
After a long week I was looking forward to the Thursday night show to let loose and have a little fun. We arrived at what turned out to be real early. The website and ticket both said music started at 8:30, but when we walked in the venue it was completely empty. Obviously others new something we didn’t at the time. The opening act, Higher Hands, was not even close to taking the stage when we arrived. So it was already late before the show even began. I felt bad that we arrived so early and had to sit and wait but there was nothing I could do about it. There was no one else to talk to and my limited reserve of cash quickly plowed through the $6 Guinness I was drinking. We did however spent a lot of time joking on the DJ spinning before the show started. I thought the first guy was pretty good at time, there was a good 20 minutes during his set that was banging. At times his buddy would jump in and twist a knob, literally that was all he would do. We joked “Thanks for saving the day, you really had my back with that knob twist.”
When Higher Hands finally took the stage at 9:40, the venue started to fill in, at least now people were on the dance floor and not just milling around the bar. I have seen them several times before and they are……well, alright. They need to refine their sound a little more, work on some new songs, and ditch the singer. If they can do that they would be much better. But to their credit they got the audience energized for a night full of funk. After a short intermission and some more music by the DJ’s, this time by DJ JMack’s partner. Finally the house lights went dead and the band walked on the stage.
There was not to a whole lot of fan fair. Of course the audience cheered, I for one was all to happy to get the beats rolling and bring me back to life. There was just no pomp and circumstance. Each member casually walked over to their instrument, greeted the crowd and it was on after that. For the first few songs I was sitting at our table on the side, tapping my foot. By the third song I couldn’t take it any longer and I needed to get up and dance. Their shows are filled with such energy it just makes you want to get on your feet. For about the next hour and a half I danced my ass off into the wee hours of the morning.
The band didn’t take the stage till about 10:40 so
I was expecting a late show, just didn’t think it would go as late as it did. As the night went on they played several of their hits and a few from their new album Ten Years On that is not yet available in the states. By the end of the night I was ampped and ready for more. The show didn’t end till 12:40 but I didn’t care, even if it was a school night and I had to be up early the next morning for work. I could have danced for another hour easy.
This is the second time I have seen New Mastersounds and I will continue to see them because of their high energy levels. They have this driving beat that makes you want to get up and dance to some funky stuff. I am hoping they will return early next year for another US tour.
The New Mastersounds
State Theatre – Falls Church, VA
November 5th 2009
I have been listening to the Soulsearching podcast with Michael Rutten for almost two years. I found the podcast by accident while listening to Raute Musik’s Lounge station from Germany. Michael has introduced me to a ton of good music and when I can find it on iTunes I get it. One of the band that he has played several time is The New Mastersounds from Leads in England. They have this jazz/soul/funk sound that just wont stop. The few songs I heard on his program are funky with a rhythm and beat that wont quit. After checking their website I found they would be touring the United States in January with a local stop in Baltimore at The 8×10. With a kick ass band doing a US tour at a local venue and tickets only $12 it was a sign. I needed to go to this concert.
The show was on Friday January 9th so it was a no brainer to make it an evening in Baltimore. I left work about 6:30 to get up there. I was a little worried about crossing the Woodrow Wilson bridge, but with the redesign getting across was a piece of cake. Finding a parking spot in Federal Hill turned out to be a problem. The one parking deck they have was filled up. So I spent the next 45 minutes driving around the narrow streets looking for a parking space. The ones that I did find were to small so I started to expand my circle looking for a spot. I eventually found a spot about 8 blocks away near a high school. After that long walk I was really hungry for some food.
Walking down the street I found this great little Thai place called Ten-O-Six, exactly what I was looking for. When I walked by the front window I could see the chef cooking, that was what drew me to the restaurant. When I walked in it was a tiny little place that was packed for a Friday night. Being just one person I took a seat at the bar where I could see the chef work. I ordered a duck dish that was amazing. It came with some vegetables in a good sauce and rice. Being Thia it was spicy, but a good level of spice. Nothing to weak and not to strong, just the right amount. And for $13 the price couldn’t be beat. For desert I had the creme brulee that was fantastic. I stumbled across this restaurant and I thoroughly enjoy the place, I highly recommend the place if you are in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore.
After a great meal it was time to head to the club. I was running late, because of my parking situation, but didn’t mind. The food more than made up for it and I was only missing the opening act, Higher Hands. I saw them once opening up for Soulive back in August at the Rams Head Live also in Baltimore. They are pretty good, but not high on my list of bands to watch. So when I got there I got a beer and stacked out a spot. Higher Hand only played a few songs and they where off, hell it didn’t even take long before The New Mastersounds came to the stage.
These guys played two sets that night and kicked ass. They brought the funk all the way from Leads in England to this little venue in Baltimore and I was completely blown away by them. The venue was packed with people dancing to the music. Many of the songs I recognized from their album This Is What We Do. The rest of them were just as good. I wish I knew the setlist better because the second to last song ending the first set was great. The jam in the middle was put together perfectly at the right time. All I can say is if they come to your town make the trip to see them, you will not be disappointed.
After a long night it was time to head home. I was thinking about heading over to Sabatino’s in Little Italy for a cappuccino and tiramisu, but getting back to my car at 2am all I wanted to do was get home. I could barely make it home I was so tired. When I finally did make it, it was lights out the moment my head hit the pillow. My chance to see them again will happen soon. They are announcing a three week US tour for March and I am pretty sure they will be back to Baltimore. I will see you all there!
The New Mastersounds
The 8×10 – Baltimore, MD
Friday, January 9th, 2009
Set 1 (10:47 start)
02. Carrot Juice
03. All I Want (Right Now)
06. Coming Up Roses
07. Brother Soul
08. Baby Bouncer
Set 2 (12:08 start)
02. Hole In The Bag
04. Six Underground
05. Turn this Thing Around
06. 3 on the B
07. You’ve Got It All
08. Eazin Down
09. Quantico VA
10. Nervous (remix)
12. One Note Brown (with jam intro)
1:35 end with encore