What four-letter “F” word best describes the overwhelming trend in the local music scene? That’s right: funk. Funk is in, and whether that’s because of the popularity of jam bands or because all things naturally lead to funk, who can say?
Funk is in, and whether that’s because of the popularity of jam bands or because all things naturally lead to funk, who can say?
Whatever the reason, there is a lot of it going around. That’s great for the people who go to listen, but it does make it harder on the people who go to play. It means you have to work that much harder to stand out in a crowd. Competition is fierce.
But it’s a piece of cake for the guys in Soul Mechanic, who demonstrate time and again that they have the chops, dedication and direction to rise above the rest. If Soul Mechanic doesn’t do it for you, you might just have to funk yourself.
It started, as these things often do, with two guys in college. In 2009, bassist front-man Tyler Reddick decided it was time for a new project and recruited long-time friend Clark Jackson for the job.
The two began producing fresh, original tunes at an exponential rate while simultaneously casting about for the players that would round out the band. At one time they even snagged local phenom Yattie “The Stage Terrorist” Westfield, which frankly always looks good on a band’s resumé.
Eventually they found a winning combination in guitarist William English and drummer Kyle Kinzalow. The stage was set, the band was ready, it was time to go forth and play—so they did. A lot.
Soul Mechanic is band that’s been everywhere, man. The long string of shows at festivals and venues throughout the Southeast is a testament not only to their popularity and talent but especially to their drive and determination. It’s this as much as anything that allows them to rise above the rest. They’re going places and don’t intend to waste a minute getting there.
Reddick’s bass lines are the kind of head-bobbing cool that makes you move whether you want to or not. Coupled with his smartly crafted lyrics and languid delivery, the guy encapsulates some of the best of ’70s soul. I’m surprised (and a little disappointed) that he isn’t sporting a huge afro.
Kinzalow’s drumming is the perfect complement to Reddick’s bass, Together, they form a potent sexual groove that is the soul of…soul. If you’re going to play funk and the rhythm section isn’t bringing it, nothing anyone else is doing will matter. These guys bring it.
English’s guitar work has been described as Zeppelin-esque, and that’s fair enough, although I think he practices more subtlety than Jimmy Page (a good thing). Jackson sounds like a fellow who graduated from the Carlos Santana school of tone and tasty licks.
In a genre of music that can lend itself to hot-dogging, English and Jackson both demonstrate a sense of style and restraint that makes their work infinitely more compelling, and the combination of their respective styles makes for an interesting flavor.
Side note to aspiring guitar gods: Few things are as off-putting as a guitarist with no sense of control. Yes, precious, we all see what you can do—but there really IS such a thing as too many notes. Here’s a handy mnemonic device to help you remember to play appropriately: If it don’t fit, it sounds like…shinola.
Soul Mechanic: They’re playing every place you want to be (including the Widespread Panic after-party at Rhythm & Brews and the Sweetwater 420 after-party in Atlanta) and best of all, the kids have a new studio album called Research to Reality set to drop any day now. Tune in, turn on and funk out.