Music saves the day yet again! With dramatic weather becoming the normal state of things, even for tough New Yorkers, that does not stop music lovers from flocking to the groove watering hole. This past weekend, that heavenly spot was the Brooklyn Bowl with its special and always funk-captivating guests The Greyboy Allstars. These musicians; Karl Denson, Elgin Park, Robert Walter, Christ Stillwell and Aaron Redfield, brought their typical flair that encouraged that devoted fan base to fill up the venue. It was the perfect respite from the unbelievable wind outside that seemed to permeate everything with a skin-deep chill.
As fans braved the freezing currents on the winter-blown streets, many huddled together outside the Brooklyn Bowl smoking to warm up. An unusual series of security checks welcomed guests as they made their way slowly inside. From the single step through the doors, a rambunctious noise of chatter and radio overplay greeted listeners. The venue, from the bar to the concert floor, was packed and bustling. Swirling lights from the giant disco ball illuminated the space, while bowlers made good use of the lanes. A sky blue and grass green glare lay heavy on the stage as the roadies set up for the main act of the night. Every inch of the venue was intermingled with intense conversations and boisterous laughter. Even as the roadies set towels at each of the musician spots, anticipation was eager amongst the crowd. On the walls and television screens above the bowling lanes were films of music videos and some stop motion clips. It was a weird vibe, granted, but somehow worked with the funky bits of music to come. Even the roadies got a kick out of it as they danced along on stage. With the final set list pages being place on the stage floor, the quintet made their way down from the green room in patient steps on the fire escape stairs.
The men lingered by the steps a bit off stage and then arrived to scattered applause that grew quickly. Karl, sporting his signature goatee, lead the charge with two saxophones in hand and a lasting grin on his face. As the other men made their way to their individual instruments, a discordant mix of instrument tuning began. Aaron took things off right away on the drums and a catchy bounce elevated the vibe of the evening. Elgin chimed in with some loud and vibrating licks on the guitar and the music was in full swing. Karl, naturally, was the center of attention as he filled out the sound with his bellows through the saxophone. From there, a collective rhythm shone through to a glorious flow. It was swaying funk that allowed the listener to be at ease and go along with the tunes as the changes occurred. They gave in to the craft. Finally, the legendary Robert twinkled the lead on the organ and keys to a rapid pace patter that had the eyes squinting with pleasure. A cacophony of funk-jazz followed close behind with the changes between the lead making for a diverse listening experience. It was to be expected and enjoyed. Twitchy elements of improvisation and constant prance added to the fun.
Musical jams continued on as the men were washed aglow in a purple haze. A trippy world entered the equation. Sudden reverb elongated the stream and the shift in funk was hard to focus on. However, that only made the listening experience an adventure. The Greyboy Allstars do not stick to a usual performance and tend to explore the terrain for more ambitious ground. Psychedelic funk-jazz was the name of the game at one point. Every part of their music remained amusing and free-spirited. Wicked fast drumming heightened the frenzy. It continued to be a whirlwind of a spectacle with each man owning his medium. Chris, however, may have been the most relaxed and determined musician on stage. With his laser-eye attention to detail and limited movements, he was completely engrossed in his bass guitar. Robert’s organ blasts were met with pleasant praise from the crowd who applauded with equal volume. There was solid unified chords to keep ears fixated on the music. Elgin’s guitar was consistent in flying in with licks that seemed to wail on forever. Karl was never still. He had an arsenal of instruments, other than his saxophone, that he wielded as he held that band leader role. Such instruments included a tambourine, shakers, the flute and the best item in his capacity, his voice.
Karl’s vocals held the epitome of epic soul and funk. He was able to alternate in and out with his vocals and various instrumentation with ease. Some fans envisioned the potential for someday including a choir for added accompaniment. Gospel-funk gave the spiritual goodness to everyone. Karl even took off his glasses to revel in the moment. When he shook his shaker, it looked as if he was playing air guitar with his saxophone. Jam sessions continued well into the wee hours of the night and it only got more intense. Listeners definitely got their money’s worth!
Give a listen to The Greyboy Allstars below:
An acid jazz band that focuses more on jazz than groove-oriented dance music, the Greyboy Allstars came together in 1993 when noted rare-groove DJ Greyboy (aka Andreas Stevens) met up with Karl Denson, a saxophone player who was then touring with Lenny Kravitz.