I recently put my virtual hands on a great online collection of music from the Brecker Brothers.
When I was in my funk music phase the Brecker Brothers were for my money the hottest, toughest, baddest, funkiest thing since sliced metaphors. Saxophonist extraordinaire Michael Brecker formed the Brothers with real life sibling Randy on trumpet and flugelhorn. They toured for most of the ‘70’s, ’80’s and 90’s, behind a series of joyous, musically-adventurous song collections. We lost Brother Michael to leukemia in 2007.
I cut my funk teeth on F. Zappa, G. Clinton, J. Brown; I got myself P-Funked, Slyly Stoned, Ohio-played and Chaka-conned; after having heard it all I finally set the excellence bar right at heart level: the Brecker Brothers. It was really great having “Some Skunk Funk” and “Sneaking Up Behind You” in my ears again!
So there I was chairdancing to “East River”, a wall-of-sound funker (think Rick James with steroid-fueled horns) that the Brothers scored a minor hit with in the late ‘70’s. A Second Life friend messaged me asking if I wanted to go to an inworld music venue. I think I had seen the better part of thirty music sets that week, so I didn’t exactly leap at the offer. But I did eventually accept it – after my friend used the “F” word – funk. So off we went to hear Ganjo Mokeev perform.
Live in Second Life, Ganjo Mokeev is one slippery mofo as a guitarist. He’s fast and assaultive as a lead player, and sweet and harmonic in his chording. Kind of a morph between the punch of P-Funk’s Eddie “Maggot Brain” Hazel and the tickle of Charles Smith in his early “Kool and the Gang” days. Ganjo is strong vocally and has a powerful grasp on how to do the song justice while retaining the necessary party feel for the audience. He truly likes to perform, and it shows in the way he interacts with his crowd.
One of Ganjo’s strong selling points (to me, anyway) is that he has meticulously crafted his own backing tracks which he jams to in his SL show. He literally does all of the parts himself: rhythm guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, backing vocals and horns. He likes to joke with his audiences that he plays in the “All-Ganjo Band”.
He got my attention straightaway when he absolutely tore up Joss Stone’s “Don’t Start Lying To Me Now”. Infused with a chunky/funky rhythm and a slick-yet-aggressive lead guitar (shades of Hiram Bullock!), he made this already-great tune tighter and tastier.
Then he slipped into a slowed-down-but-steam-powered version of the Grand Funk Railroad chestnut “Some Kind of Wonderful”. The song took on a much funkier feel with the tempo relaxed, and G-Man made great use of the space to throw in some wicked and authentic keyboards a la the classic Hammond B3 organ (with Leslie tone cabinets) sound.
That same soulful B3-inflected rhythm also powers up one of Ganjo’s hottest originals: an audience favorite “This Is How We Swang”. SL’s Grandmaster of Funk adds a heart-attack guitar solo to some clever scat vocals on top of the mega-slinky “this is how we swang” vocal theme.
Much to my delight Mokeev sent a thrill through the house on the opening notes of the Frank Zappa hit “Cosmic Debris” which he not only recreated practically note-for-note, but also “Ganjoed” up a bit. “Is that a real poncho, or is that a Sears poncho?” Gotta love it!
And his many fans do love it. Ganjo enjoys packed houses everywhere he plays across the grid, and has even set several attendance records at my friend Lingual Markus’s great SL venue The Roof@NYC.
He’s aka GaryO, who streams from Denver, Colorado where he is a mainstay (“songwriter/vocals/guitar” the GaryO website tells me) in a top R&B/Dance band called Phat Daddy. The website (twoblackdogs.net) also informs me that Ganjo/Gary “prefers music with strong rhythmic grooves”. Ya think?
That same site offers a nice page of tracks for listening or downloading. “It’s Like This” and “Be Myself”, a beat-laden, tongue-in-cheek discussion of identity, were particularly appealing to me although all of the tracks on offer sounded great.
No question: catch Ganjo Mokeev live and I guarantee you’ll have a great time. And you and your friends will be treated to an hour of massive funk from one very talented performer. Ganjo would be on my “Must See Acts of 2012” list – if I had one.