Downtown Music Revolution, Sat., May 8

Downtown Music Revolution kicks off 12th season of free concerts

COUNCIL MEMBERS Anthony Smith (foreground) with Global Funk Council in the Plaza.

COUNCIL MEMBERS Anthony Smith (foreground) with Global Funk Council in the Plaza.

Photo By Tom Angel

Global Funk Council

Barefoot mothers twirled with their young daughters, couples walked by holding hands, a group of friends played hacky-sack for what seemed like hours before dropping the sack—and all the while a steady stream of funky beats and groovy melodies flowed from the bandstand in the middle of the denuded Downtown Park Plaza.

It was the first of many Saturdays in the 12th annual Downtown Music Revolution free concert series, and the band was international touring jam band Global Funk Council.

A “free-expression zone” is what organizer DNA called his longstanding music series. He said it started as one of the only places to see a wide variety of bands, from Nothing Rhymes with Orange to the Mother Hips, together in one place. Now, he says, “The Music Revolution is a night to come let your hair down and be yourself.”

As headliners, GFC was so different musically from punk openers Contraband that it was hard to believe they were sharing the same stage.

The band’s sound is a layered and complex blend of jazz, funk, jam, reggae and Latin influences. Jonathan Stoyanoff on bass and Josh Surheinrich on guitar took turns plucking syncopated rhythms and soloing off Ryan Krieger’s steady drumbeat. Keyboard player Anthony Smith switched off between an electric organ, a synthesizer and a standard keyboard to create a variety of sounds that more than compensated for the missing horns you hear on the band’s debut album Keep on Pushin’.

In the tradition of improvisational bands, vocals were minimal. This made the music repetitive at times but provided comforting background noise to the socializing and community time that are the heart of the Revolution.