12.05.2007

Get Out! :: Carolina Funk CD Release @ The Whig :: 12.07.07


The South is notorious for its regionalism. Take barbecue, for instance. In South Carolina alone there are three distinct types of barbecue, each holding preference in a different region of the state. Throw in other Southern states, and you’ll find even more types— including that delicious Texas brisket. This regionalism applies to soul music as well as soul food, and Friday, Columbians can get the first taste of a new funk compilation highlighting R&B, soul and lots of funk acts local to the Carolinas from the late ‘60s to mid-‘70s. Out on London-based label Jazzman Records, which has put out other compilations featuring Texas and Florida funk, Carolina Funk: Funk 45s from the Atlantic Coast was put together by Chapel Hill native Jason Perlmutter, a long-time record collector and disk jockey.

The 22 tracks presented here are an assidiuous look at a bygone piece of local music history. According to local DJ Matt Bradley (perhaps better known as SinDoolah), 'Most of this stuff is super-obscure. I don’t think anybody knows about it but Jason.' Indeed, Perlmutter himself had to track down most of the producers or musicians himself to get the details and stories behind the recordings, which are all discussed at length in his meticulous and fascinating liner notes. 'The music isn’t out there,' Perlmutter admits. 'The history isn’t out there. It suggests a need for someone to write a book.'

The songs are just as varied and enthralling as the stories behind them. Rising out of the gospel music tradition and the socioeconomic plight of being African-American in the South during such a tumultuous time of racism and impoverishment, funk artists in the Carolinas definitely had plenty of blood, sweat and tears to put into these songs. With James Brown just down the road in Augusta, these artists also had the inspiration and drive to make some amazing music. There is an enduring nature to it that Bradley explains well: 'It’s desperate music. It comes from hard times, poverty.'

The compilation includes artists such as Asheville’s Innersouls, Florence’s Soul Impossibles, Columbia’s own Paul Burton and Winston-Salem’s Donnie Brown. While all the tracks are incredible, there are a few that stand out above the pack. Burton’s 'So Very Hard to Make It (Without You)' is one of the more soulful tracks on the album and one of the best baby-come-back-to-me songs I’ve ever heard, on par with some of Sam Cooke's stuff.

Female vocalist Sundia’s 'Stand Up and Be a Man' is a raspy funk groove that nears perfection. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, indeed. Frankie and the Damons drive a heavy funk frenzy while extolling the problems behind a 'Bad Woman.' If you’re not a funk fan, this comp has the power to convert you.

Projects like this are the type of thing that collectors, historians and music lovers everywhere hold in high regard, and Carolina Funk is no exception. It’s a collection worthy of the Numero Group Eccentric Soul series that bloggers and funk aficionados have been praising for years, and the fact that it all happened right here in our own backyard gives it even more gravitas. 'There’s people on this thing walking around town,' Bradley says. 'Maybe old dudes who are on here will come forward now.' Perlmutter certainly hopes so. 'I’d like to reach out to people who might have made records like these that I don’t know,' he says.

SinDoolah kicks off the night with some salacious soul and freaky funk, then Perlmutter himself will get on the ones and twos, playing more grooves including some of the tracks from the compilation. As Perlmutter forewarns, 'Tell people to bring their dancing shoes.' And don’t forget to bring $10 with you so you can get yourself a copy of the compilation. Believe me, 45 cents a song is well worth it for this eye-opening look at an important part of our local music history.

The spinning begins at 10 p.m. Admission is free; copies of the compilation will be available for $10. Call 931-8852 for more information.

Paul Burton - So Very Hard to Make It (Without You)

Go to Jason Perlmutter's myspace to hear more tracks, and head to GorillaVsBear to pick up Frankie and The Damons doing 'Bad Woman.'

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