Reed Yearwood - The Jamwich - Album Review: Marvelous Funkshun – Live in the Camel City

Psych-blues hasn’t been this fun in a while. It’s no wonder fans –aptly dubbed “The Funkshun”– have been burning down the house every chance they get to see Marvelous Funkshun strut their stuff. And that is quite often! The band has been touring the southeastern U.S. extensively since their formation in 2014. They self-proclaim to represent a blend of Funk, Southern Rock, Blues, Sacred Steel, Hip Hop and R&B and this listener can’t help but get down with the jam! The idea of a successful musician is to blend the energy of an amazing live show seamlessly with an album release… what better way to send that energy to the masses than with an intimate peak inside a live show? Any funk, jamband, southern rock, or Hip Hop fan will instantly feel transported right into the live performance. Hip hop? Isn’t that a little out of place? Hardly so, these guys have opened for household names in the game like Snoop Dogg.

When the energy is full and Marvelous Funkshun is tightening up their groove; guitarist Sam Robinson wails over top of driving funk lines pumping out by bassist Will Bagly and drummer Camry Harris. Almost as a perfect weave, ebbing and flowing with ease Michael Kinchen punches and coordinates melodic textures on what is undoubtedly a HammondⓇ keyboard. Chris Johnson compliments the melodies with tasteful pedal steel playing, bridging the gap between guitar and organ sound. It is a rare treat to get to hear some quality pedal steel, especially in an environment that is fostered by heavy funk. The result is somewhat remarkable and beyond making me feel like I was present for their show I found myself eagerly awaiting a chance to catch a live set from these guys. Their talent is unique, their instrumentation: unique, and the way their songs are presented to the audience is… unique.

“Memoria” takes a trip down memory lane and features familiar tunes for both young and old. One look at this band and an audience member should be able to tell they’re going to be in for a wild ride. A wild ride indeed, jams like “Liquor Store” and “Crazy” roll for over 9 minutes in length which should tell you how deep this crew gets into their groove. The fans adore it. It’s no wonder Camel City (Winston-Salem, NC) is coming to know and love their new household name. If you’re looking for solid, energizing LIVE funk music, the right place is Marvelous Funkshun: LIVE in the Camel City.

Lisa O’Donnell - Winston Salem Journal - Homecoming Jam will serve up the grooves at The Millennium Center

Consider the Homecoming Jam on Nov. 2 at the Millennium Center as an appetizer to the annual Thanksgathering.

Though the lineups for the shows will be different, they will feature one key ingredient — lots of jam.

Sam Robinson, Marvelous Funkshun’s ace guitarist, is pulling the shows together, reaching out to the tight jam-band network to compile two groovy lineups with the capacity to bend minds.

The Homecoming Jam is sort of a convenient way to tap into Wake Forest University’s homecoming weekend, Robinson said. The Deacons play Syracuse on Nov. 3.

“These shows come together when the Millennium Center comes open,” Robinson said. “A lot of the people in the lineup are people we’ve played with and that we like to bring back to Winston.”

The Homecoming Jam will be at the Millennium Center, 101 W. Fifth St., and begins with pre-party patio show with BadCameo at 6 p.m. Others on the lineup include Winston-Salem acts Marvelous Funkshun (rock and funk) and RKIII (experimental jazz); and the Joe Marcinek Band featuring Alan Evans (Soulive) Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy) and Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk), all of whom are superstars on the jam-band circuit.

The headliner is the Roosevelt Collier Trio, featuring Collier, a lap steel player who is a disciple of Robert Randolph. Randolph introduced “sacred steel” to the mainstream. It’s a style of music with roots in the black Pentecostal church that is soulful, bluesy and rocking, genres that jam-band fans gobble up like a certain kind of brownie.

Collier’s family, the Lee family, has also helped bring the music out of the church, with its band, the Lee Boys. The Lee Boys count Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, Warren Haynes, formerly of the Allman Brothers Band and Los Lobos among their fans.

Collier grew up in a House of God church in Miami, Fla., where sacred steel music raised the rafters each Sunday.

“It’s definitely a style of music that is designed to touch and heal somebody,” said Collier, talking on the road between shows.

He said he isn’t surprised that music steeped in the gospel has found a home in the jam-band scene, which celebrates transcendence through improvisation.

“Our music is so jam-my,” Collier said. “It’s feel-good music. The jam-band scene gravitated to us quickly as soon as we hit the scene.”

Collier is touring behind his solo album, “Exit 16,” a reference to the exit that leads to his home. Relix, the jam-band bible, raved: “Exit 16 , the debut release from the Floridian, is some nasty, mean-ass funky business.”

It was produced by Michael League of the Brooklyn jazz collective, Snarky Puppy.

Collier’s soulful chops have landed him some guest spots with some of the scene’s biggest names including the Allman Brothers Band, who invited him to join them for “One Way Out” during their final run of shows in 2014.

A few weeks later, the jam scene returns to The Millennium Center for the third annual Thanksgathering on Nov. 21, 23 and 24. Bands on the bill include Dr. Bacon, Fat Cheek Kat, The Lee Boys, Big Daddy Love, Heather Gillis, Daniel Seriff and Marvelous Funkshun. George Porter Jr., the bass player for the original Meters is the headliner.

Marvelous Funkshun Shows Dunedin Brewery a Marvelously Funky Good Time

Marvelous Funkshun, the dynamic jam quintet from Winston-Salem, was winding down their summer tour when they made a stop at the Dunedin Brewery on Saturday, July 22nd. Shortly before they embarked on the tour, they had released an eponymous EP (read our review here).

Marvelous Funkshun are: Sam Robinson, guitar, vocals; Chris Johnson, pedal steel guitar; Will Bagley, bass; Ranzy Moore, drums; and Michael Kinchen, Hammond B3 organ, synthesizers. However, for this pat of the tour, Kitchen was not aboard. However, at the last moment, Bill Stevens was able to get a flight in to play keyboards. However, he didn’t have any equipment with him. That might have been a problem elsewhere, but not at DunBrew. Proprietor Mike Bryant to the rescue… with keyboard!

We had missed the beginning of the set, which included three tunes from the EP and a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover (“Soul to Squeeze”). They were all up in “Rest My Bones” when we arrived. Next they blasted a tremendous version of “Funky Bitch” (and I learned this is a Son Seals tune!), followed by a solid “Simple Kind of Man.” Johnson adds so much to this band’s sound with his blistering pedal steel guitar. Robinson was abusing his guitar pedals and handling the vocals as they closed the set with R.L. Burnside’s “Georgia Women,” a really badass boogie driven by Bagley on bass and Moore’s thundering drums.

MF opened the second set with the first song I ever heard them perform, a totally redneck version of “Get Low,” that classic by Little John and the Eastside Boyz. Just awesome! “Liquor Store” from the EP was next, full of great solos and massive rhythm section. Stevens may have been a last-minute fill-in, but you would never have known it; his keyboards were part of every tune, especially this one with the Hammond B3 effect. Johnson soared, then Bagley before they segued into a great “Use Me,” then back to “Liquor Store.”

They proceeded to tear up a Bukka White tune popularized by North Mississippi All-Stars, “Shake ’Em On Down,” and did they ever! Later in the set, they killed “Goin’ Down,” which moved easily into “Just Got Paid.” After “Crazy” (Gnarls style), they turned Johnson loose on one of his true showcases (and one he does with The Lee Boys), the medley “Superstition > Don’t Stop (’Til You Get Enough) > Superstition.” WOW.

Set three was short but sweet. First, they teased me mercilessly with a lovely but all-too-brief warm-up of Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower.” Then they shot directly into a nasty “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” Robinson and Johnson trading Hendrix licks all the while. Another tune from the EP, “Wastin’ Time,” turned into a scorching hot dance number. And that led to “Church Jam” with Bagley and Robinson singing together and Stevens taking a dynamite synthesizer solo (on a keyboard he’d never seen before!).

Marvelous Funkshun is good for your soul. Catch them when you can. You can thank me later.

[SET 1: Memoria, Fancy Car, $100 Bottles of Wine, Soul to Squeeze (RHCP), Rest My Bones, Funky Bitch, Simple Kind of Man, Georgia Women (RL Burnside); SET 2: Get Low, Liquor Store > Use Me > Liquor Store, Shake ’Em On Down, Check Back, Hook, Beanie, Goin’ Down > Just Got Paid, Crazy, Superstition > Don’t Stop > Superstition; SET 3: Little Sunflower tease, Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Wastin’ Time]

You can access the link for the show here.

Marvelous Funkshun

Winston-Salem’s Marvelous Funkshun Releases New EP, Hits the Road

Music Fest News!

Posted on June 19, 2017 by Scott Hopkins

Start with plenty of great Southern rock. Then mix in funk, fusion, R&B, blues, and a righteous portion of sacred steel, and you’ve got Marvelous Funkshun, the quintet from Winston-Salem NC who have been cooking up their musical recipe since 2014. The band is on the road after releasing a fine new five-song EP. They also issued a fine album recorded live at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem.

Marvelous Funkshun are: Sam Robinson, guitar, vocals; Chris Johnson, pedal steel guitar; Will Bagley, bass; Ranzy Moore, drums; and Michael Kinchen, Hammond B3 organ, synthesizers. This new album was recorded by Daniel Seriff at I Shot the Seriff Studios in Winston-Salem, mixed by John Keane at John Keane Studios in Athens, GA, and mastered by Dave McNair at Dave McNair Mastering in Winston-Salem. The excellent album cover is courtesy of Drew DePorter.

The new self-titled EP gives a great look into the workings of this band, beginning with “Fancy Car.” It sets up immediately as solid rock with a great fusion flair, funky chunky guitar in the driver’s seat. Johnson, who is also holds down the sacred steel chair in The Lee Boys these days, makes himself known first with a fine solo. Robinson then takes a turn, punishing his wah-wah pedal in the process, followed from some slinky synths by Kinchen.

On “Wastin’ Time,” Robinson’s singing is enhanced by Joy Rivers’ fine background vocals. And this track also features guest Kofi Burbridge on electric piano tangling with Kinchen’s Hammond B3. Johnson, Burbridge, and Robinson all rip solos here.

The rhythm section of Bagley and Moore stands out on all five tracks, but they come to the fore on a slide feature titled “Memoria.” Kinchen’s B3 fires things up right away, and then Robinson takes over. He is a huge Derek Trucks fan (aren’t we all?), and he just rips. After five glorious minutes, Johnson make it even more praise-worthy as he quotes both “Amazing Grace” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Next is a song about being turned upside down by a high-maintenance woman: “$100 Bottles of Wine.” Robinson’s refrain is “You can tell by the way she walks, what she wants she gets.” Rivers’ backing vocals are even more effective here. Appropriate to the tune, Johnson and Robinson each scorch a couple of solos, with Kinchen’s B3 dancing in the background.

The album closes with the quieter, bluesy lament of “Liquor Store,” introduced first by Robinson, then Johnson, then Moore’s cymbals before the whole band falls in line. Rivers guests on this one, too.

The live recording goes back two years to 04/16/15 when Marvelous Funkshun opened for Snoop Dogg at Ziggy’s. That album was just released last December. It features early versions of “Liquor Store” and “Memoria” as well as some smokin’ covers of “Hear My Train A-Comin’,” “Shakey Ground” and “Power of Soul.”

We first heard them Valentine’s Day 2015 at Gov-Fest in Lakeland FL. At the time, we wrote:

Marvelous Funkshun, had a very, very tough act to follow. How should they approach it? Of all the options you did consider, you most probably did NOT consider “Get Low” by Lil John and the East Side Boyz, done totally redneck country style. My head was turning like Linda Blair’s. Maybe we should make ourselves scarce for a wee bit if that is what’s going to happen. PSYCH! GOTCHA! They immediately made a u-turn and funked up “Shaky Ground,” which maneuvered its way into “We Want the Funk (Night of the Thumpasaurus Peoples).” It was red hot. Then they slowed things down with a slow, slinky take on “Hear My Train A-Comin’.” Psychedelic rock? They had that covered, too, thank you very much. They can come back to visit from Winston-Salem any time.

Give them a listen now and a look-see when they visit your area! It’s a Marvelous idea!

Use this link for the Bandcamp edition of the EP. Use this link for the Bandcamp edition of the live album.

Thanks to MrJayFoo, Marvelous Funkshun, and The Sober Goat for their videos.


06/23  Plyler Park | Myrtle Beach SC
07/04  Second and Green Tavern | Winston-Salem NC
07/06  The Pour House | Charleston SC  w/ The Lee Boys
07/14  Deep South the Bar | Raleigh NC
07/15  Bubba’s Love Shack | North Myrtle Beach SC
07/21  Barrelhouse South | Savannah GA
07/22  Dunedin Brewery | Dunedin FL
07/26  Guanabana’s | Jupiter FL
07/28  Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ – Sullivan’s Island | Charleston SC
11/22  Millennium Center | Winston-Salem NC

Eddie Huffman - Winston Salem Journal

They gathered one last time on a cold Thanksgiving weekend in 2007. The place was the original Ziggy’s on Baity Street. The emcee was Grady Cook, host of the “Stoners Serenade” radio show on WQFS at Guilford College in Greensboro.

“On the last Saturday night on the last weekend of this place, in all of its history and all of the great musicians who have graced this stage, I cannot think of anybody I would rather see take it on out than these guys right here,” Cook said as the crowd roared. “Ladies and gentlemen, Perpetual Groove!”

Ziggy’s was a haven for jam bands, and Perpetual Groove, based in Athens, Ga., was a crowd favorite there for years. Now Perpetual Groove is teaming up with Marvelous Funkshun of Winston-Salem at the Millennium Center. They will perform there Feb. 24 along with two members of Fat Cheek Kat: Andrew Lazare and Cass Copsey.

“PGroove was booking North Carolina dates, and it just kinda organically fell into place,” said Sam Robinson, 33, singer and guitarist for Marvelous Funkshun.

Robinson shared the bill with Perpetual Groove at the final Ziggy’s shows in one of his earlier bands, Carolina Clearwater. The Ziggy’s shows were part of an annual tradition called Thanksgathering.

The Feb. 24 show by Perpetual Groove and Marvelous Funkshun comes on the heels of a Thanksgathering concert three months ago in the same venue. Robinson worked with Greg Carlyle, the CEO of the Millennium Center, to re-create the spirit of the original Thanksgatherings, organized for years at Ziggy’s by the club’s old general manager, Mark Bloomfield.

The closing of the latest version of Ziggy’s a year ago inspired that show.

“I just kind of felt like we needed it for the scene,” Robinson said. “There’s definitely a void to fill.”

Marvelous Funkshun has been around since 2012, playing a blend of funk, rock, blues, sacred steel, R&B and hiphop. The band has toured extensively from Florida to West Virginia since 2014 and shared bills with Perpetual Groove and other artists, including Eric Gales, Big Something and the Lee Boys.

Chris Johnson, who plays pedal steel for Marvelous Funkshun, also plays in the Lee Boys. He and drummer Ranzy Moore both grew up playing music in church. The other members of Marvelous Funkshun are Will Bagley on bass and Michael Kinchen on keyboards.

Bagley and Robinson previously played together in Sam Robinson and the Groove Elaters. That band was often joined by a couple of veteran musicians, Artimus Pyle of Lynyrd Skynyrd and and Kofi Burbridge of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Robinson said.

Moore, 32, grew up in Mount Airy playing with relatives at the House of God.

“I’ve been playing ever since I could beat up on pots and pans,” he said.

He plays with his brother and cousins in a sacred steel band called the Allen Boys.

“Pretty much my whole family has some type of musical talent,” Moore said.

People sometimes detect his church origins in his playing, he said.

“Any born-and-raised drummer has a unique type of jam or style,” Moore said. “Most of the time you find it in your songs. You can always hear somebody say, ‘You must be a church drummer because you just took that to church.’”

He joined Marvelous Funkshun about a year ago. Robinson and Bagley have been in the band from the beginning. Robinson grew up in Winston-Salem and took piano lessons as a child.

“I kept that up until I thought the guitar was a little cooler,” he said.

Perpetual Groove started out in Savannah, Ga., before moving upstate to Athens. Students at the Savannah College of Art and Design formed the band in 1997. The group took a hiatus from 2013-15, but has been going strong since then, continuing to tour extensively.

The latest Perpetual Groove record, “Familiar Stare,” came out in 2016. The four-song EP came on the heels of five full-length albums and another EP.

Elise Olmstead - Appalachian Jamwich

Marvelous Funkshun, or “The Funkshun,” as fans like to call them, released their first album Live at Ziggy’s in February 2016, and we’re glad it found its way into the Jamwich rotation.  The band’s sound is a captivating, strangely danceable fusion of southern rock and jam sounds, mixing a little funk in there, too.  The steel lap guitar paired with improvisational jams and psychedelic sounds makes for a party on the scale of a Widespread Panic show.

Though the album is only 5 songs, they average in around 10 minutes, giving you a great feeling of their live flow and transporting you to Ziggy’s, right there with the band.  The show that was recorded was actually their set from a day they played with Ballyhoo and Snoop Dogg. “We were really just trying to play to a crowd that probably was not really there to see us.  The philosophy was just to keep it funky, but still be ourselves.” Sam says that “it wasn’t originally supposed to be an album actually,” and it just happened to be recorded by his friend Sean Grogan when mixing for the show that night.  They liked it and had it run through analog gear and mixed. “Everything is exactly how it was played, no edits.”

The first song, “Liquor Store,” gives you a taste of their bluesy side but throw you a curveball with a funky bassline. This is where we get our first taste of their sound, before launching into what is my favorite track, “Hear My Train a Comin.'” The beginning builds in a harmonizing riff, building into a triumphant release of aninstrumental jam and blistering guitar solos.

Marvelous Funkshun’s style can be unpredictable, and the 14 minute “Hear My Train a Comin'” took the tone way down into a slow-tempo blues exploration. ” The similarities to the Sacred Steel tradition made “Hear My Train” a perfect choice,” Sam Robinson says of the track.  “Rest My Bones” takes no time in giving us a beat to dance to in this feel-good blues rock tune.  They end the album with their funkiest song of all, “Shaky Ground.” “Shaky Ground is always fun to dance to,” says Sam.  The track does in fact induce involuntary head-bobbing and toe-tapping, so be warned.  It’s a great way to go out with a bang, but leaves us wanting more.

Vincent Harris - Greenville Journal

On the surface, there would seem to be a lot of similarities between the Winston-Salem group called Marvelous Funkshun and acclaimed pedal-steel player Robert Randolph’s Family Band. After all, both groups prominently feature the crying, rubbery, liquid-mercury sound of the pedal steel alongside deep funk grooves and a jam-heavy approach to their songs. And both outfits acknowledge a debt to the Sacred Steel genre, a vein of gospel music that uses the pedal steel as flexibly and emotionally as a human voice. But a closer look reveals some key differences.

Randolph’s band, though all skilled musicians, essentially serves as a platform for his jaw-dropping playing. It’s easy enough to imagine another player taking someone’s place in the Family Band and not making that much of a difference, musically. Marvelous Funkshun is a much more democratic group. Chris Johnson’s steel shares equal time with guitarist Sam Robinson, who serves as the band’s main songwriter, and bassist Will Bagley. In fact, as skillful as Johnson’s solos are, Bagley might be the band’s secret weapon: His bass solos are dizzying displays of technique.

Also, the band, which will play at Gottrocks in Greenville next Thursday, focuses far less on gospel in their music than Randolph does. They tend more towards heavy funk with a great deal of ensemble playing, which is exactly what Robinson and Bagley were aiming for when they formed the group. “We not only wanted to be able to play original music and tour with it, but we wanted a band that had an identity behind it,” Robinson says. “We try to draw on our individual backgrounds and include the styles and feels that embody who we are as individuals and represent it with the group.”

That sound involves a great deal of improvisation, especially on stage. “The songs are written out, but they have sections that allow for the musicians to improvise,” Robinson says. “We don’t have any particular order for who leads these sections, but we like to see where it goes. The jams and the general flow are definitely part of a musical conversation. Being able to communicate musically is an important part of any live band and listening is the key. We try every show to listen as closely as possible and have an actual ‘conversation’ versus the band backing up guitar solos or whatnot all night. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, too.”

As for the pedal steel, Chris Johnson says it creates an entirely different dynamic than another guitar player or keyboard player might. “I personally think that the pedal steel is a very versatile instrument that covers a ton of sonic territory,” he says.

Robinson adds that the instrument has so much history in so many different kinds of music that it can’t help but expand the horizons of any ensemble it’s used in. “The pedal steel was first popularized by country artists like the late Buddy Emmons half a century ago,” he says. “But it evolved behind the scenes in the House of God church as a lead instrument, which then influenced players like Robert Randolph and Roosevelt Collier to expand the music into rock, funk and blues. Chris is just building upon that legacy to take pedal steel guitar music to even further heights.”

And that, in turn, pushed Marvelous Funkshun to create an original sound out of familiar elements. “I think music these days has to draw on as many influences as possible to stay relevant and fresh,” Robinson says, “and artists from different genres focus on the same kinds of things such as song craftsmanship and musicianship. We strive to write songs that have a little more meaning than just a catchy hook.”

Scott Hopkins – Tie Your Shoes Reviews

“Marvelous Funkshun, had a very, very tough act to follow. How should they approach it? Of all the options you did consider, you most probably did NOT consider “Get Low” by Lil John and the East Side Boyz, done totally redneck country style. My head was turning like Linda Blair’s. Maybe we should make ourselves scarce for a wee bit if that is what’s going to happen. PSYCH! GOTCHA! They immediately made a u-turn and funked up “Shaky Ground,” which maneuvered its way into “We Want the Funk (Night of the Thumpasaurus Peoples).” It was red hot. Then they slowed things down with a slow, slinky take on “Hear My Train A-Comin’.” Psychedelic rock? They had that covered, too, thank you very much. They can come back to visit from Winston-Salem any time.”

Ryan Snyder – YES! Weekly

“The Sunday finale is an especially good one with homegrown blues-rock quintet Marvelous Funkshun, led by guitar shredder Sam Robinson. The band not long ago released its self-titled debut record, a quirky eight-song set of old school jam-banding, high on Hammond, pedal steel and soaring guitar licks, with guest appearances from longtime Robinson associate Kofi Burbridge of the Tedeschi-Trucks Band on masterful jazz flute. True to Robinson’s previous work, he has a lot of fun with the lyrics — “I don’t need no fancy dinner for two/Just give me two tickets to the next Bonnaroo” on “Hippie Girl” or “The hooch can make ‘em crazy/But it keeps the lovin’ hot” on “Between the Lines”.”