We don’t cover a lot of funk/soul/R&B on this site. Some might argue that’s because there isn’t much of the music here in Austin, but to that I’d suggest you aren’t looking hard enough. There are some great funk/soul groups here like, T-Bird & the Breaks, Soul Track Mind, and Akina Adderley and the Playboys. I don’t know if I’d classify it as a thriving scene, but there’s certainly a number of good artists you can get into if you’re craving some horns or some syncopation. One of the reasons why we may not have covered many of them (T-Bird being the lone and notable exception) is that we focus mostly on record reviews, and it is notoriously hard to capture a stellar live funk sound on a measly little record (or CD or mp3 or what-have-you).
This is the case with another up-and-coming funk group in town: KP and the Boom Boom. I have seen this group twice now in concert (once opening for Soul Track Mind and once opening for T-Bird), and each time I was significantly impressed with their presence and performance. KP is a dynamic frontwoman, and the music is almost impossible to stand still to. In the live setting, you aren’t listening to every little note or beat; you’re just letting the music carry you. The musicians in this group are good enough to create that irresistible groove. Additionally, KP and the Boom Boom have a heavy Latin influence to their music that sets them apart from the rest of the funk/soul batch in town. They rely heavily on various Latin rhythms (I’m still not great at differentiating between salsa, cumbia, etc – but hopefully you get the idea) across multiple songs. KP even slips into and out of Spanish lyrics throughout their repertoire. This mixture of styles makes for a thrilling live experience.KP and the Boom Boom - 'So What'
On record, though, it can make things a bit uneven. Listening to their self-titled debut EP in my car or sitting on my couch while surfing the internet, the songs don’t stand out as much, and it can be jarring going from the sultry groove of “Queen of Sheeba” to the slow burn of “Love You Right” (though I’ve never been into slow jams like “Love You Right,” whether done by Tower of Power or Minnie Riperton – both good reference points for this one). The album closes on the classic swing of “Don’t Mess With Mama,” throwing in a whole different style with which to contend. Though it’s weird to listen to on my own at home, it has made the live experience that much better for being familiar with the songs.
KP and the Boom Boom shows lots of promise. There is a high level of musicianship, and some interesting mixture of styles. However, the live setting is where this group really shines. Get out there and see them at some point when you’re feeling like dancing the night away. You won’t regret it.