Tweed Funk’s latest release offers the listener a tasty choice of cuts that expresses the musicality and feel of the band performing live. By limiting overdubs and minimizing production efforts, the sound is raw and everything was done in one or at most two takes.
Tweed Funk is a Milwaukee based group of blues/soul/funk musicians who can tear up a stage. Led by the effervescent and cool Smokey on lead vocals, their swinging sound will get fans up on their feet and moving! JD Optekar provides the guitar, Eric Madunic is on bass (and lead vocals on one cut), Nick Lang is on drums, and John Lovas (sax) and Kevin Klemme (trumpet) are the horn section.
The CD is a fun mix of originals and four covers. The CD blasts off with”Blues In My Soul,” where they get into the funk right off the bat. Smokey is crooning he’s “got the blues down in my soul” while the boys chime in on a nice vocal harmony. Optekar plucks out a dirty guitar lead and the horns punctuate the the solo nicely. That transitions into a forthright and driving cut entitled “Time to Burn.” Optekar takes the first solo and later Lovas offers up a little homage to the saxophone gods. “Hoodoo Power” has some of that grooving Philadelphia soul sound to the guitar line and horns. Smokey testifies how he’s worked to make his woman happy because she’s go that hoodoo power. JD gives us a short solo and the horns plays some nice transitional stuff between choruses, verses and the bridge. “Divided” is a slow social commentary about the divisiveness of our land where Smokey asks “if we will ever be one again?” JD lays out a thoughtful solo in keeping with the tone of the cut and later Lovas again gives us a nice solo in the latter half of the tune.
The band switches to a swinging sound with “Deed is Done” as the guitar and horns set the tone with a pretty intro. Smokey bounces through the vocals and occasionally the horns together answer his calls. The sax and then trumpet solos go first here and Klemme gives us sweet some fluttering lip effects to finish the solo off. What would a good blues album be without a song about adult beverages and other pursuits? “Sippin Misery” is a beautiful slow blues where Smokey really bares his soul and Klemme puts the trumpet cup to great use as he make the horn flutter and moan in a blissful, bluesy manner. The down tempo here is a big contrast to the rest of the stuff and really lets the boys show some variety in their approach. Lang’s using the brushes thoughtfully and the whole sound is really slow and well done. The last original is “Get It On,” not to be confused with the almost similarly named Marvin Gaye song. Brian “Looper” Lucas appears here on harp as he and Smokey share the front of the band. He blows some mean stuff here in support of the band. Optekar wails on a later solo that is big and hairy and fun. Lucas and Smokey and the band take us home to close things out quite well.
The covers are also pretty darn good. “Let the Good Times Roll” is given a nice coat of new paint as Smokey shouts his ass off to sell this one. “Sugarfoot” also features Smokey in his role as one of the coolest blues shouters out there expressing himself as few can. “I Got Loaded” and “Knock on Wood” strike me more as big and fun party songs than a means to go out and do something new and different, but they do represent the band’s fun side and they are executed well with the big and diverse sound of this band. Madunic holds his own vocally on the latter number.
So album number three from this band is now out and available and I must say I think it is the best of the three so far! If you want to swing and jive with the Wisconsin kings of funk, blues and soul, then pick this album up and enjoy- you won’t be disappointed! Highly recommended!