Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Oct 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

 

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Light Humor

College comedy questions a post-racial America in ‘Dear White People’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher