Freekbass gives in-your-face-funk

Robert Checkal

Three-piece band to play Halloween-themed show tonight at Kent Stage

When Cincinnati funk band Freekbass takes the stage, expect the unexpected. On the spot jam sessions and in-your-face funk are filtered through modern rock and dance.

“It’s funny writing set lists sometimes,” bassist Chris Sherman said. “A three-minute song can become 20.”

The three-piece band began as an experimental solo project for Sherman in 2001. As he laid down some tracks with a few friends, he said he thought it’d be cool to play them live. He said two shows led to more and more shows, which led the band to their current status as a unique and talent-driven three-piece dynamic.

“When you’re a three-piece, everything is stripped down and naked,” Sherman said. “Every person has a lot of responsibility.”

The band just released its third studio album, “Junkyard Waltz” Tuesday. Tonight’s performance at the Kent Stage kicks off a month of CD release parties.

Sherman said the CD is different from anything the band has done before, and it takes them in a “new, bold direction. Not only does the CD offer the funk and modern spin of Freekbass, it also features guest spots from Bernie Worrell (of the Talking Heads), Mike Gordon (of Phish) and Buckethead, a well-known frequenter of Cincinnati.

“Cincinnati has a pretty rich history of funk,” Sherman said. “No matter where you are in Cincinnati, funk’s always around.”

James Brown, one of the most respected and well-known names in funk, recorded all of his studio albums in Cincinnati. Just one year after Brown’s death, a tribute show was formed in his honor. Among the bands to play was Freekbass. The one-time show was so well-received that it became a tour.

Sherman said his favorite part about the tour was the show’s finales.


Freekbass with Lotus Grove and The Know Nothings

The Kent Stage

Tonight, 8 p.m.

$10 day of show

“Each act would do 20 to 30 minutes and at the end everybody would play in one big jam session,” Sherman said. “It was really, really cool, we were privileged to be a small part of this history.”

The original show became a CD/DVD set, featuring I-Candi, Djizzle, Freekbass, Bootsy Collins and more.

Bootsy Collins is also the executive producer of Freekbass’s newest CD, and he was a member of the original James Brown (J.B.) Band and Parliament-Funkadelic. He’s been collaborating, writing, producing and performing since.

He’s also responsible for Freekbass’ stage name. After Sherman laid down a bass track for a compilation Jimi Hendrix tribute album in the mid 90’s, Bootsy yelled, “Play that Freaky Bass, Baba!”

Contact all reporter Robert Checkal at [email protected].