J-Calvin’s Funk Express formed inside of three minutes. Its core members, who also play in Stillhouse Junkies, Hello, Dollface, and Farmington Hill, among others, had been playing in the house band for the “Rocky Horror” Halloween performance when an impromptu soundcheck jam led to the birth of the band. Bands often form via serendipitous occasions – Scrubber was a short-lived Durango band that formed after someone made a cool sticker for a joke band. However, a built-upon melody by a house band giving birth to a new group full of excited and anxious players is a more ambitious yet traditional path.
“We were sound-checking and someone started playing something, and we all started riffing on it,” said drummer Ted Moore, who also holds down drumming duties for Farmington Hill. “The whole thing lasted two and a half minutes; we were then backstage and we were talking, saying it was a lot of fun, and agreed we should do a project just like that. The next day, Jesse (Ogle) came up and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got us two nights on Dec. 1 and 2.’ And we go from there.”
J-Calvin’s Funk Express’ Durango debut will be Dec. 1 and 2 at El Rancho Tavern.
Recently, Durango has seen an increase of local musicians forming bands outside of their more established bands. The core of bass player Ogle (of Hello, Dollface and who is also the J. Calvin namesake of the band), drummer Moore, guitar player Fred Kosak (Stillhouse Junkies, Badly Bent), saxophone player Jeff Giroux, and guitar player Guillaume Metz are joined by Sam Kelly (Elder Grown), Brandon Clark (Elder Grown), Bradley Hoessle (Afrobeatniks), and vocalist Angi Gulino.
Funk may be a loose term when it comes to this band’s description, as the music is borderless. They’re a new band with a growing list of originals peppered into explorations of funk, soul, jazz, and funked-up versions of ’90s rock.
“It’s paying tribute to a lot of cool artists that we all like,” said Ogle. “It’s funky but it’s also down-tempo”
“We’re casting the net widely to stuff not typically done with a funk feel,” added Kosak. “We’re exploring some stuff that lends itself well to a groove, seeing what we can do with it, making it more suited to this rhythm section and have some tunes people will know.”
Talking to Moore, Ogle, and Kosak reveals three things. One is a general love of playing. The second is a love of playing music with the members of this band; despite being a new band, there’s a youthful exuberance excitement of what’s to come. Third is the common bond of many musicians, a love of music. Not just funk, or punk, jazz, rap, drone-womp, or bluegrass, but a love of all music and an excitement knowing what they do in this band can be brought back to their other bands. It’s proof Durango is currently fertile with musicians, established bands, and bands on the up-and-coming.
“I like how open it is. I like playing all sorts of stuff, and I really like playing with people who have a broad palette, have a good ear, and that can land me anywhere. It landed me in Farmington Hill and Hello, Dollface,” said Moore. “This is another thing and even more exciting because it’s happening now, and evolving now. It’s really dynamic; there is a lot of back and forth. That gets me there, that’s the common thread through any group I’ve played with.”