With Brooklyn’s high-energy funk and soul quintet Pimps of Joytime teamed with the giant performance art and music troupe MarchFourth, which includes acrobatics, hoops and stiltwalkers, it’s as if the circus is coming to town.
“It’s intense,” said Brian Jay, Pimps of Joytime’s bandleader.
The tour is funking up some of the coolest cities on the West Coast: Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Bend, San Francisco and on March 10 it came to Crystal Bay on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore
“It’s a lot of energy and it’s been awesome,” Jay said. “They (MarchFourth) are such a spectacle and are musically great, too. So there’s been a great reaction.”
Later this month, Pimps of Joytime will release its fourth album, “Third Wall Chronicles,” 10 songs that can be called all-American funk. It was recorded at Jay’s New York studio with co-producer Steve Berlin, who is from Portland, Oregon, writer and multi-instrumentalist Anthony “A.C.” Cole, from Detroit, and keyboardist Ivan Neville, from New Orleans.
A singer, songwriter and guitarist, Jay was the sole producer for the three previous Pimps’ albums. He has also produced albums for a number of New Orleans artists, such as Galactic’s Corey Henry, Cyril Neville, James Andrews and Bernard “Pretty” Purdie. This was the first time Jay has worked with another producer for a Pimps of Joytime album. He appreciated Berlin’s attention to detail.
“(Berlin) said I have some ideas about how to take this to the next level,” Jay told Tahoe Onstage. “It was nice having another set of ears. He spent 10 days in my studio.”
A member of Los Lobos, Berlin is one of the best in the business. (He’s produced records for Lake Tahoe favorite Scott Pemberton, the “timber rocker.”)
“Brian Jay is a bit of a genius,” Berlin said in a press statement. “It was a blast just coming in and making a few things larger and more colorful. He has the remarkable ability to get an idea, get a sound and make it real at a speed that I’ve never seen before.”
Jay needs to work fast because he has projects in the works, including one with A.C. Cole called Capital F! Formerly with J.J. Grey and Mofro, Cole is the drummer for Doyle Bramhall II. He’s also a relative of Nat King Cole.
“We are working on album of Anthony Cole’s tunes, to be released within the next year,” Jay said. “He’s an encyclopedia of African-American music, and he’s a great singer and songwriter who plays every instrument. He was on last (Pimps of Joytime) record, too.”
Jay also teamed with Hill Country bluesman Cedric Burnside in a pair of sessions that will result in an album and likely show dates. The son of R.L Burnside, Cedric is a drummer who has played in a duo with guitarist Lightnin’ Malcolm.
“I met Cedric at a rehearsal when we were waiting for Papa Mali,” Jay said. “He was on guitar and I jumped on drums. He really liking my drumming. He was just starting to write songs on guitar. So I invited him to my studio and we recorded some (songs) and it turned out great. It just all worked out that he wants to start playing electric guitar. He’s really writing some great Hill Country music. Just awesome, authentic stuff.”
With hypnotic rhythms from extended grooves, funk and Hill Country blues are similar.
“They’re relatives,” Jay said. “I love rock and roll, I mean real rock and roll, and I think Hill Country is closer to what really inspired rock and roll to happen in the first place.”
Editor’s note: More photos from Friday’s show, including sets by MarchFourth and Mojo Green will be posted soon.