Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Jan 25th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Synthetic Soul

music JunoWhat1Denver disco and electro-funk trio Juno What?! will move you

When Joey Porter sings onstage, it’s easy to get distracted by the giant straw that stretches from his mouth all the way down to the effects pedal sitting beside his vintage keyboard, a 1982 Roland Juno-106. Porter—one-third of the far-out funk collective from Denver, Colo., known as Juno What?!—isn’t sipping on anything but his own feel-good lyrics, voiced like a robot thanks to this ingenious and manipulative contraption: the talk box.

“I’ve been using the talk box for 20 years,” says Porter, a Tennessee native. “I really like soulful music, but I don’t have a soulful singing voice. A white boy in Nashville turns funk musician … doesn’t make sense to me either.”

How Porter found his funk doesn’t need to make perfect sense, though. In fact, nothing about Juno What?!’s music—created by Porter and his New Yorker bandmates, Dave Watts (drums and samples) and Steve Watkins (keyboards, talk box, bass)—should be deconstructed for greater meaning. “It ain’t nothing deep,” Porter says, quoting directly from the title track off of their second album, 2011’s Shameless—a song reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s classic “Superstition,” but even more upbeat and danceable with its electro-funk spin.

“That’s the whole thing about Juno What?!,” confesses Porter, “being shameless.” For him, it’s about exuding an overall rhythm that sounds profound, and prompts listeners to get up and groove for minutes on end. “We’re saying shake your butt,” he says, with a laugh. “People need that in life—times are stressful.”

That philosophy is prevalent throughout “Get on Down,” the epic six-and-a-half-minute dance track on the band’s latest album, Late Night Live, released in September 2011. The seven-track set was recorded in two consecutive nights last May at Cervantes’ Other Side, a music venue in Denver, and is a live version of their 2009 album with the same title. Late Night Live stays true to standard Juno What?! form, in that nearly all of the songs fall between the six- and seven-minute range, and are heavy on synth, bass, robot-like vocals, and funky yet futuristic-sounding beats.

music JunoWhat2Their tracks are consistently lengthy, yet the band skillfully manages to avoid becoming tiresome. “In general, electronic bands aren’t trying to be funky,” says Porter. “Ours is trying to have a bit more syncopation. We go out of our way to not be repetitive.”

Juno What?! has drawn influence from several bands from the late ’70s and early ’80s—including fellow talk box users Zapp and Roger and The Gap Band—since its inception in 2008. Each of the three groups has mastered the ability to keep the audience in motion from the very start to finish of a song. “You don’t want to just change up the beat every few minutes,” explains Porter.

This weekend, the Denver trio will head to Moe’s Alley, where they will perform a high-energy set alongside their funky friends and local favorite, On The Spot (OTS) Trio—pre-show stretching is a must.

“When you’re in a funk band, you’re kinda half pep rally,” says Porter. “You have to be vibing the most if you want everyone to follow you.” For those who don’t identify themselves as dancers—just wait. “You’re gonna shake your ass, even if you’re not rhythmically inclined.”


Juno What?! plays at 8:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26, at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $9/adv, $12/door. For more information, call 479-1854.

Comments (2)Add Comment
...
written by brian sirus b smith, February 24, 2012
keep on bringin that funk, would love to book you guys for envision festival in costa rica for next year, im a funk guitar player from chicago who used to play with kris yunker back in maui.....keep the vibe ultra funky and feel free to contact me, peace SIRUS B
...
written by Buddy Smith, February 23, 2012
These guys are awesome! I saw them the the Summer Meltdown festival last summer and they SOLE the show. I will say that the straw is distracting, but once you start dancing it's easy to ignore.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Force of Nature

Santa Cruz’s Carlie Statsky brings her love of the natural world to the hyper-personal art of wedding photography

 

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

The magical time of Mercury’s retrograde cycle is here once again, until Feb. 11, and then some. The Mercury retro cycle actually lasts eight weeks when we consider its retrograde shadow, giving us six months a year for review. We know the rules of Mercury retro: Be careful with everything; cars, driving, money, resources, friends, friendships, groups, interactions, thinking, talking, communications. Avoid big purchases, important meetings and important repairs. Mercury retrograde times are for review, reassessment and rest. Our minds are overloaded from the last Mercury retro. Our minds need to assess what we’ve done since October—eliminating what is not needed, keeping what’s important, preparing for new information in the next three months (till mid-May). Mercury in Aquarius retrograde … we reinvent ourselves, seek the unusual, we don’t hide, we’re just careful. We live in two worlds; outer appearances and inner reckonings, with both sides of our brain activated. Yet, like the light of the Gemini twins, one light waxes (inner world), the other (outer realities) wanes. Like Virgo, we see what’s been overlooked—assessing, ordering and organizing information. It’s an entirely inner process. When speaking we may utter only half of the sentence. We’re in the underworld, closer to Spirit, eyes unseeing, senses alerted, re-doing things over and over till we sometimes collapse. Because we’re in other realms, we’re wobbly, make mistakes, and don’t really know what we want. It’s not a time for decisions. Not yet. It’s a time of review. And completing things. Mercury retro: integration, slowing down, resolution, rapprochement.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of January 23

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Bye Bye Benten!

Benten closing, plus Award-winning gin, a massive burrito and chocolate review

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Scanning the shelves of Deluxe Foods of Aptos, which carries an impressive selection of local and imported wines, I picked up a bottle of Trout Gulch Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, described as “a local favorite” by the busy market.

 

Cremer House

What’s old is cutting-edge again in Felton

 

How are you going to make a tangible difference in your community this year?

Spread more kindness and compassion.