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Listening to Records With Funk Genius Joshua Fairman

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Joshua Fairman and Jordan Linit have been playing music together since they were thirteen. In middle school, their parents would drop them off at Blues Bars with state-issued papers giving the teenagers permission to play music in an adult venue. Then, the boys would go home and listen to their parents’ jazz and funk albums. The pair has come a long way from their days of listening to funk greats. Now they’re playing with them.

This month, Fairman and Linit’s newest project, Analog Son, is releasing its second album, Stomp and Shout. Analog Son is a supergroup comprising a rotating cast of 28 musicians, among them funk musician greats like Ivan Neville of Dumpstaphunk, Nigel Hall of Nth Power and Lettuce, Terrence Houston of the Funky Meters, Joe Tatton of the New Mastersounds, Joey Porter of Motet, and Jason Hann of String Cheese. The project emerged organically from Fairman’s recording studio, Scanhope Sound. Between the artists passing through the studio to record and a recent jam cruise, Fairman and Linit were meeting a lot of musicians, many of whom were in the funk scene. They began dreaming of a collaborative project and soon decided to ask the artists who passed through the studio to record on their tracks. You can listen to a preview of the album now via The Rooster. 

“We would write a song, take it to the studio and see what happened when other musicians touched it,” Fairman says. “The basic idea was just to play the funkiest music we could with the funkiest people we could. We never really knew what was going to happen.”

What emerged was a spontaneous funk collaboration. It’s an album that Fairman says is meant to make your upper lip move, to make you really feel. Fairman says there isn’t really a funk genre—it’s a mixture of sounds and genres—but there is a real funk movement emerging right now, and they have at least half the major players in that movement on this album.

The album itself is a kind of tribute to the funk music scene and the sounds that created it. Even the name is an homage to all the musicians that came before them and that old, warm sound of analog recordings that Fairman and Linit grew up listening to. Those musical influences shaped Fairman and Linit as musicians and, by extension, colored the foundations of Stomp and Shout. In fact, the first track of the album is proof of that. The track, “Shady Nights,” got its title from the heavy influence of The Shady Horns who “took the track to the next level," and it has a perfect mixture of all the genres and albums that influenced it.

On a snowy day, Fairman invited us inside to listen to some of the albums that colored that first track and the rest of Stomp and Shout. 

Bob Marley’s Babylon by Bus

“Shady Nights” begins with an intro of trippy, old school tape delays and dub sounds, which, Fairman says, is courtesy of Bob Marley and reggae music. Unlike the other albums we listened to, Fairman says this album’s influence was more present in the production techniques than the chords or rhythms. It’s the delays and reverb that snuck in, probably because Fairman has listened to the albums thousands of times. He’s always loved it because it’s live, and it’s really able to capture the energy of the room the way he hopes Stomp and Shout does.

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik

This influence is especially apparent in the bridge of “Shady Nights,” in what Fairman calls that “dirty pop-rock-funk.” One of the first funky records Fairman ever heard was the Chili Peppers’ Freaky Styley, produced by Parliament-Funkadelic’s George Clinton—one of the godfathers of funk. They were some of the first to put those funk sounds in pop rock, and it helped draw Fairman and Linit into the genre.

Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters

“Listen to that—it’s trancey,” Fairman says, bopping his head to “Chameleon.” “That’s funky shit.” Fairman and Linit have always listened to jazz. Linit especially loves Miles Davis, whose music he began transcribing in high school. But they say Head Hunters is probably the most influential record for the whole band because it’s so improvisational. The entire record is only four songs with really complex rhythms, which you can feel replicated in “Shady Nights’” B sections and extended solos. Most importantly, Head Hunters was one of the first fusion funk records that became mainstream, so it paved the way for the kind of funk Analog Son is producing.

Parliament-Funkadelic’s Mothership Connection

Parts of “Shady Nights” are clear throwbacks to 70’s funk like this Parliament album. It’s another one that Fairman has been listening to since he was a kid, and he loves it because “it sounds like it came straight from outer space.” Funk has evolved over time, influenced by artists like James Brown, the Meters and even Lettuce and the New Master Sounds, who play on Stomp and Shout. But it was Parliament who took funk to a whole different level. When it came out, it changed the game. Today, all funk music is influenced by this album.

Analog Son’s album release show, featuring Nigel Hall and Jason Hann, is March 7 at the Bluebird Theater. Their third record will be recorded in New Orleans this May. 

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