Funk Monkey features an A-list of local talent including Greg Hicks, trombone (Bonerama); Brad Walker, sax (Eric Lindell/Colin Lake); Bert Cotton, guitar (Bonerama); Dave Pomerleau, bass and vocals (Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes); Eddie Christmas, drums (Jon Cleary); and Rik Fletcher, organ/keys (Smilin’ Myron). Recorded live at the Maple Leaf in July of 2017, Rollin’ Live at the Leaf combines the infectious enthusiasm of the streets with the polished playing of premier musicians. Six of the ten tracks were written or co-written by Bert Cotton and there are well-placed covers from the Poets of Rhythm, Allen Toussaint and Corey Harris.
“Light It” gets things started with Cotton’s rhythmic strumming laying the foundation for the rest of the band to jump in before featuring some slinky jazz chops. Throughout the track, the band seems to effortlessly change directions as if testing the waters to see where they want to head the rest of the evening. Next up is “Shoshoni,” which showcases the heavy groove and forceful horn work so often associated with Bonerama. Pomerleau gets his first chance to shine on vocals with a cover of the Poets of Rhythm’s “Practice What You Preach.” On the Toussaint-penned “Fair Child” the band locks into a deep solid groove leading one to think there is a lot of territory to be mined by digging deep into the Toussaint catalog.
Throughout the night, Hicks and Walker do a great job of playing with and off one another, and at times their playing brings to mind great combinations like Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. But don’t for a minute think that this is solely about killer horn work. The pocket created by Pomerleau and Christmas is deep and wide, allowing Cotton to explore and jam as needed; and Rik Fletcher is stellar throughout, adding extra texture and funk to the party.