The New Mastersounds, from Leeds, England, began a US tour on Wednesday, November 4th in Charlottesville, VA in support of their freshly released album, Ten Years On, released on One Note Records. The venue, called Rapture, was tiny and packed. The band was in top form musically, which consists of an instrumental quartet of Eddie Roberts on guitar, Simon Allen on drums, Pete Shand on bass and Joe Tatton on keyboards.
Funk is a music that creates a great feeling and there are many good bands that play great funk. The difference in good funk bands and great funk bands is in the writing. The New Orleans iconic band, the Meters, are at the top of the heap because their instrumentals have strong melody lines that are conversational, simple sounding, and memorable. The New Mastersounds’ talent in writing and playing puts them in this same arena. Eddie Roberts’ solos were a thoughtful blend of groove oriented chord playing mixed with scorching linear note runs. Likewise, Joe Tatton’s solos on the Hammond B-3 organ filled the room with warm, phat tones that brought to mind a hot, smoky New Orleans club pumping out the best of southern soul. Although Pete Shand does not solo per se, he relentlessly plays deep pocket grooves all night. Simon Allen rarely takes his eyes off of Roberts, ready to take the groove wherever the guitarist wants to go.
The on stage communication between these musicians is an exciting element of the show. This was the third time I’ve seen them and it is fun to see how seamlessly they switch gears and change arrangements on the fly, each time getting laughs from their band mates. Their communication with the audience is equally fun. It is almost comical to hear this great funk/soul music and then hear their English accents when they speak. Eddie and Simon do the talking and both are smart and funny, engaging the audience in a personal manner which assumes that the audience is also smart and funny. They make you feel as if they are surprised you came to hang out at their party, and they really appreciate that you did.
Before and after the show, the Mastersounds hang out with the audience, engaging in conversation, taking photographs with people and signing autographs. They don’t act like rock stars, they act like friends. Don’t miss this band if they come near you.