It’s always nice to see familiar faces in a new city- especially when those familiar faces belong to the members of Kung Fu and that city is New Orleans! This week, one of The Music Vibes’ favorite acts heads south for shows surrounding the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and we could not be more thrilled! The musical chemistry between band members Tim Palmieri (guitar), Robert Somerville (tenor sax), Todd Stoops (keyboards), Chris DeAngelis (bass guitar), and Adrian Tramontano (drums/percussion) is contagious as their audience finds themselves catching the beat and dancing along! Many music fans enjoys the best of varied genres so it is no wonder that Kung Fu’s fresh new take on fusion wins over music’s most enthusiastic supporters. Kung Fu has been well received in the past few years and their release of Tsar Bomba this past summer was no exception. Rest assured that Kung Fu’s upcoming performances will include both old and new favorites!
The high-energy funk fusion band will be making numerous New Orleans appearances ranging from a block party to multi-act festivals and even a Steely Dan cover show! That’s right- Kung Fu will be kicking off the festivities by participating in the Oak St Block Party alongside The Nth Power, Leftover Salmon, The Heard, Sonic Bloom, Eddie Roberts and more! A special evening of music will commence when Kung Fu plays a Steely Dan Royal Scam show with Mr. Bernard Purdie, himself, as well as Al Schnier of moe. and additional performers! From there, they have appearances of some of Nola’s most renowned venues- Blue Nile, Mardi Gras World, and the Parish at House of Blues. Since so many artists flock to the Crescent City this time of year, you can bet you’ll get a well-rounded musical fix regardless of which show (or shows) you choose!
Kung Fu’s tendency to get jazzy makes them a perfect match for Nawlins’ biggest musical event and we were certainly are eager to see exactly what they have planned. We caught up with bassist Chris DeAngelis to find out more! DeAngelis joined the band a few years back but seeing them play together, you would never be able to tell he was not part of the original lineup. His musicianship on bass fits the band perfectly and we were thrilled to get his perspective on what they’ve been up to!
Kung Fu has had a presence at the shows surrounding Jazz Fest for the past few years- had you ever attended as a patron or did you first become familiar with this time of year as a performer? Any fest stories that immediately come to mind?
I’ve only recently started attending Jazz Fest over the last couple years. Last year I checked out the festival grounds and in just under an hour I was able to see Phish, Robert Plant and Branford Marsalis at the same festival. Those kinds of choices surely don’t present themselves every day. Its concert ADD at its finest.
Often, festivals bring to mind open fields and scenic views, but Jazz Fest turns the entire city into stomping grounds for the music fans. Can you describe the experience of a city being transformed in urban festival grounds? Any venue you are especially looking forward to playing? Any advice for a first timer navigating the scene?
You can either have a preconceived plan of shows that you want to attend or you can just wait until you get there and let the city guide you. Both options can be fun , but if you’re looking to wing it the only advice I can give you is to open your ears and follow your heart.
Any must-eat meals or must-see attractions?
I always try to hit up Mothers while I’m in New Orleans. The Ferdi special is a must for me.
Naughty Professor is really rocking the Nawlins’ scene lately and is playing numerous opening slots. Have you had the opportunity to see them play before?
No, but now I’m really excited to see them.
What inspired you to play a Steely Dan cover show (both in December and during Fest)? In what ways will your musicianship be inspired by the band and in what ways can we expect to see your own styles?
I’m not sure exactly how the idea came about but everyone in the band are big Dan fans and love the Royal Scam record. The idea was tossed around when we were trying to think of ideas for our holiday shows at Toads Place. We really wanted them to be special and when Jon Herrington and Bernard Purdie were added to the bill then things really got interesting. Learning and playing the music was a huge learning experience for myself and I’m sure everyone else. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort levels is vital to any musical growth I think.
Which bassists have been influential in your own journey?
There’s so so many but here’s a few off the top of my head
Any performances you’d like to catch while in Nola?
Our performance schedule is pretty jam packed so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for any R&R!
How is your experience in Kung Fu different than The Breakfast, where you take on the lead vocals?
The Breakfast is a much more rock, open ended and improvising kind of band where Kung Fu is conceptually a little different. We don’t take as many musical risks and things tend to be a little more concise and scripted to put on a tighter show. Both can be really fun though. Depends on the vibe but Kung Fu has definitely been known to get a little weird too
Would you consider this the start of festival season? What do you have in store for the summer?
Yes i guess this is the start of festival season. We are playing a lot of festivals and we will hopefully be incorporating some of the cheap homemade pyrotechnics that I’ve been cultivating in my back yard.
Last time this year you were preparing to release Tsar Bomba. How did releasing an album in the height of festival season allow you to spread the word? What have become your favorite songs to play?
Wow has it been a year already? It seems like just yesterday that we started playing those tunes. I enjoy Hollywood kisses and Belatone the most I would say
We were sorry to hear about Stoops’ back crack gone wrong! Is he healing okay?
Any experiences with overzealous fans that have left you guys laughing?
Only thing I can say is that if I see a gigantic, excited man running towards me yelling my name in the early morning hours, I’m definitely running in the opposite direction.
How do you select which musicians/songs to cover in your Hood Rat Bass series? How did this venture begin?
The whole Hood Rat bass vid series came about over the last few months actually. My apartment is very poorly insulated and in my attempts to be as frugal as possible with the god awful electric heat, I like to practice with my hood on. The past few months have been a very creative time and the videos are being well received ,which is pretty motivating to produce more. I just try to play my favorite songs of all time that would sound cool on 5 string bass. I’m always open for suggestions too! Who knows you might even see a few gigs lined up once the repertoire grows some more.
The Music Vibes really appreciates the heart behind Brotherly Love Productions! What has been your experience working with them and what to do you value most in a music- related partnership?
Brotherly love has been nothing but love for this guy! They are big music fans who really put that kind of passion behind everything they do. That goes a long way with me and they are super professional.
If you were to give advice to an aspiring musician, what would you say?
I would say they best thing to do is to learn as much as you can all the time and NEVER stop being open to new musical experiences. I have found something useful in every single genre of music that has helped shape my own personal style over the years and I never intend on stopping that growth. There’s only two kinds of music, good and bad. And I intend on seeking out all the good stuff and hopefully making some of it too.
If you are not familiar with Kung Fu, your ears will definitely want to make their acquaintance at one of the following events:
Be sure to “Do the Right Thing” and catch one of Jazz Fest’s finest acts!!
Visit www.kungfumusic.com to find out more!
Interview by Mia Jester
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