Higher Funktion Filled The Heartwood Dance Floor on Friday Night

Review by Bill Monahan of Higher Funktion at Heartwood Hall on Friday, July 14, 2017

There was no better place to be on Friday night than Heartwood Concert Hall where Higher Funktion had the place hopping with funk and soul.   The six-piece band ran through a couple of sets that reproduced all the energy and excitement of some of the great summer hits of the sixties.

They began with some Sam and Dave and Wilson Pickett and then moved on to The Outsiders’ “Time Won’t Let Me” while the horn section of Wayne McGrath, Ian Harper and Chris Palmer, and great lead vocals from Randy Martin started to get the blood moving.  And then when they moved on to Sly and The Family Stone’s rousing “Dance To The Music” the dance floor filled with bouncing bodies.

The Heartwood Concert Hall is an ideal venue for this type of show, and the best shows they have there feature high energy jumping bands that make you want to move.  It’s spacious yet warm and when it starts hopping the energy bounces off the walls.

Funk music is all about rhythm and riffs and it requires a tight band to pull it off.  Higher Funktion has what it takes.  An outstanding contributor to the sound is Jayden Grahlman on guitar.  Whether he’s setting up that chunky rhythm that makes you want to jump up, playing in perfect sync with the horns or inserting a blistering solo, that guitar seems like the lifeblood of the groove.

The horn section is the real pumping heart of the sound, even while Randy Martin’s bass and Steve Morel’s drums provide the tight driving beat.  Sax, trombone and trumpet provide true reproductions of the most memorable horn riffs that make the songs they cover so timeless, and they use their skills to replace other instruments as well on some of the covers they do.  Like their arrangement of the great accordion riff that is central to Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al”

And that township jive cover shows the great range of the band, which is not limited to funk.  They do a great version of “A Message To You”, the rock steady number that was made famous in the late seventies by the British ska band, The Specials.  They capture the original groove of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” and even manage to pull off a compelling version of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, highlighted by Jayden Grahlman’s reproduction of the original Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar solo that made that song so special.

Higher Funktion is all about groove and energy, the kind of band that makes you want to dance all night.  Something to look forward to for fans who missed them on Friday, or who want another taste of the excitement, is this coming Friday, July 21, when they will be headlining the second in the Meaford Summer Concert Series, playing for free in the downtown Market Square under the moonlight (the serious moonlight).  What a party that will be!

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