Robert Walter didn’t exactly fade into the background, but one reason it’s been a top-marks year for him so far is that one of Walter’s most beloved bands, the 20th Congress, is finally back in action. It just dropped a new album, Get Thy Bearings, on the Royal Potato Family Records label, and a bunch of live dates are already booked, with many more to come.
To Walter, it was just plain time to get the textured funk and groove of the 20th Congress back from recess. He’s been plenty busy – the legendary Greyboy Allstars, of which he was a co-founder, have been steadily semi-regular since their 2006 reboot, for example. But it became clear during a recent interview with Hidden Track that for Walter, the 20th Congress is still what keeps his creative juices flowing like no other outfit.
Now in his mid-40s, Walter’s no longer a young upstart – he’s the seasoned, heavy-yet-nimble, richly nuanced player his early years with the Greyboys always promised he’d be. Having moved back to California (L.A. specifically) in the last few years after half a decade in New Orleans, he spends time with the reunited Greyboys, and plenty of time with Mike Andrews, aka Elgin Park, scoring movies. But national audiences will see a lot more of him this year.
Kung Fu and Robert Walter’s 20th Congress @ The Aggie & Cervantes – January 24 and 25
Photos and Words: Mike Sherry
Robert Walter’s 20th Congress resumed session this past weekend on Colorado’s front range, joined by Kung Fu (having skied down from dates in Aspen, Breckenridge and Boulder), in a double-showcase of talents both sublime and ridiculous. On Thursday night The Aggie in Fort Collins got an extra treat on the bill as bassist Garrett Sayers of The Motet led his trio through a spunky, jazzy opening set. Friday’s show featured Jet Edison kicking off an evening that would stretch to nearly 3AM.
[All Photos by Mike Sherry]
Never a band in need of a warm-up number, Kung Fu took the stage and the funk by the horns with the greasy Do The Right Thing. Keeping a steady increase on the heat, the sultry vibe of Snaggle boiled to a kettle of frenetic notes blasted from all directions in a jumping Scapegoat Blues. As the band grooved through (let’s just get “Zappa-esque” out of the way) Letters From Bobby Portugal, guitarist Tim Palmieri showed why his style is so difficult to pin down yet so easy to love: tasteful, sustained phrasings washing into bright flourishes and not simply climaxing at the highest fret but then a peaceful return to terra firma.
But nobody was grounded for long. Robert Walter presented his newly sworn-in 20th Congress: incumbent Cochemea Gastelum on sax, Simon Lott on drums and Greyboy Allstars vet Chris Stillwell holding down the bottom end. The quartet eased into the jazzy Sweetie Pie with nonchalance and poise, how else to follow scorching heat but with the epitome of cool? But things only picked up as Robert introduced Dog Party (“…what your dogs do when you’re not at home.”) and the brand-new Hunk, a choice cut of Nawlins funk.
Will It Go Round In Circles first appeared on the 1972 Billy Preston album Music Is My Life. The track would then be issued as a single the following year and eventually hit #1 on the Billboard Top Singles chart.
Band From TV: Band From TV makes their second Cover Wars appearance this week, they previously were featured in the You Can’t Always Get What You Want edition back in July. As we mentioned then, this is a group made up of professional actors and all of their proceeds go directly to charity – pretty cool. Source: Hoggin All The Covers
READ ON for the scoop on the rest of this week’s contestants…
Moving on to this week, we look at a song The Beatles recorded during the Let It Be sessions, but didn’t make the album. Don’t Let Me Down was featured as the b-side of the single Get Back. I keep coming back to The Beatles because so many great artists have covered their tunes. Instead of copying and pasting a lot of fun facts and quotes about the song, I recommend just checking out the entry over at The Beatles Bible. For me, it’s all about the measure of 5/4 to start every verse.
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