This post is gonna be a little short because it's only about one (really awesome) band. Some more substantial posts will be coming soon!
It's hard out here for an unemployed, music-crazy blogger. Lately, I've been trying to drum up support for a worthy local band, working on a couple of different posts and, oh yeah, looking for a job that'll help finance my show-going and writing and that won't make me want to smash my head against a wall. Last night, I decided to take a break and just wander around downtown for a bit. I was not prepared in any way for what I found when I stepped inside Tom Grainey's and went down into the basement bar.
It can no longer be ignored: I am calling for a full-scale investigation into the astonishing rise in funkiness in the Pacific Northwest. The eight-person band Manimalhouse said that they were from Portland, OR, but they sounded like they could've hailed from Memphis or Augusta. They served up some slick, tight, hot buttered soul and funk with a dash of disco and a side order of cool jazz. Petite, sexy Reyna Mallare belted out the songs in a gritty, sultry voice that evoked both Etta James and Donna Summer. Nattily dressed Brody Lowe backed her up on vocals and moved to the beat with some sly, restrained, James Brown-derived footwork. Bassist Jeff Tummond, saxophonist Reid Neuman, trombonist Jon Ramm, guitarist Dan Lee and keyboardist Dave Dernovsek each got off at least one mind-blowing solo apiece. Last but most definitely not least, drummer Mark Blanding provided the backbone for the group, pounding out the rhythms with spot-on precision and unflagging energy.
The concrete bunker that serves as the concert space for Grainey's Basement was simultaneously too small for Manimalhouse's massive sound and just the right size: stepping inside, it felt like I'd wandered into the Chicago/ Southern juke joint of my dreams. The band blasted through one song after the next with unmistakable enthusiasm, and the steadily growing crowd responded in kind by dancing their asses off. The setlist was a combination of playful, rock-solid original material and inspired covers--En Vogue/ Salt N Pepa's "Whatta Man" and TLC's "Waterfalls" sounded right at home next to "I Can't Stand the Rain."
You can find more info about Manimalhouse on Facebook and elsewhere online. And for those of you in the Boise area, I should mention that they're playing again at Grainey's Basement tonight. Trust me: you won't regret it if you go see them.