Funk comes in all shapes and sizes these days. Those eager to see two very different versions headed to the Putnam Den in Saratoga on December 6 to see The New Mastersounds, originally from the U.K., co-headline with Brooklyn’s Turkuaz.
The two boast their own unique style, but both brought anyone with a pulse to their feet that night. The show was part of an extensive tour to promote a split 7” vinyl featuring both bands performing a cover song from the other’s catalog, while also joining in on the collaboration.
The New Mastersounds came as a pleasant surprise to those witnessing the foursome’s raw talent for the first time. The band makes its rounds on this side of the pond, but the majority of those in attendance had likely never seen them before.
With slicked back hair and a blue suit jacket complete with a pocket square, guitarist Eddie Roberts paralleled his fashion swagger with his musical prowess. He laid down soulful yet jazzy riffs throughout the evening with ease. Pete Shand thudded the bass to bring the familiar foundation of funk this upstate New York crowd came to see. The level of technicality in which Joe Tatton wailed on the organ was impressive and moving, even adding synthesized tones later in the set. The funk was here and the crowd was loving it, whistling loudly indicating their approval and awe.
Their set was upbeat and drove harder and faster as it progressed. They slowed it down slightly to do a one-of-a-kind version of Sneaker Pimp’s “Six Underground,” a song that became popular in the 90s, included on the soundtrack of the movie Can’t Hardly Wait.
Without a horn section, their sound is old-timey soul but with a modern funk that hits just right. They welcomed Turkuaz saxophone player Greg Sanderson on stage who fits the band like a glove. Den dwellers had fogged up the windows at this point and many headed outside to catch some air only to be sprinkled with wet snowflakes. The already thick crowd swelled as more joined the party for Turkuaz.
Anticipation built as the 9-piece ensemble entered the stage and prepared to take off. “You’re in for a treat” was heard muttered in the crowd from the more experienced Turkuaz fans to some of the “newbs.” They weren’t wrong.
They set sail into fan favorite “Bubba,” and then to a speedy rendition of “Percy Thrills, The Moondog.” After big songs, the explosions of color and sounds end abruptly as the lights shut completely off on stage, like a period indicating the end of a sentence.
The Turkuaz ladies, Sammi Garett and Shira Elias, choreographed their moves and vocals to add a splash of Motown to the pop funk. Chris Brouwers keyboard skills were reminiscent of the digital sounds of the 1980s. Josh Schwartz took a break from the sax and sang, and “Dude’s got some pipes on him,” was overheard in the crowd.
Shira Elias and Sammi Garett took the lead vocals on a funked up rendition of The Band’s “Don’t Do It,” providing a welcomed twist on the beloved classic. The energetic and colorful evening came to a close with a one-two punch of “Chatte Lunatique” and “Ballad of Castor Troy” in which drummer Michelangelo Carubba delivered a solid solo.
The tour hits the road and heads south to Pittsburgh, PA on December 8, Washington D.C. on December 9 and on to Philadelphia on December 10.