A 10-piece funk band from Sacramento had the idea to travel through Austin, Texas, and into New Orleans in support its new album,” Kinetic.” It turned out better than anyone imagined.
“It was a life-changer,” said Ideateam’s singer Julian Cunningham. “It opened our eyes to the fact that we can do this and people are receptive to what we do and that the caliber of musicians we are exposing ourselves to is calling on us to be better.”
The band members arrived in New Orleans and explored the French Quarter. They walked down a street and into the middle of a block party hosted by none other than the great Trombone Shorty. Laissez le bon temps rouler!
“That inspired us to practice more, to write more music and to just go back,” Cunningham said. “We’re planning another trip back next spring. We caught the buzz.”
Four friends who attended high school together in Amador County started the band, which early on only played instruments. A horn section was added, then a vocalist. The final additions came three years ago when Cunningham and trombonist Josh Cambridge joined.
The logistics of a 10-member band make it difficult to travel, book shows and for anyone to make serious money. In May, Cunningham finished his bachelor’s degree in jazz studies and vocal performance at Sacramento State University.
“Right now, it’s all about the dream and to just push the music that we love out there,” Cunningham said. “All of us have day jobs to supplement this band. From the outset, we believed we had something special and people have affirmed that by every show they went to by every CD that we sold. That’s what keeps us going. The love and the creativity.”
The band’s rehearsal room is adorned with a painting from its 2016 performance at Live at Lakeview in South Lake Tahoe. The ensemble returned to the site on July 5. South Lake Tahoe artist Darren Senn opens.
Here are Ideateam members: Kyle Pulskamp (bass), Timothy Snoke (guitar), Joe Carusi (drums), Justin Butler (guitar), Mark Miller (alto sax), Josh Cambridge (trombone), Chris Ryan (tenor sax), Aaron Smith (trumpet), Mike Ruiz (percussion and drums) and Julian Cunningham (vocals).
Album view: ‘Kinetic’ takes on retro funk
One of Sacramento’s hottest funk ensembles has the right idea with this new album. I’m sorry fellas, I had to. Now that I’ve got that pun out of the way, let’s dig deep into this funky delight.
“Kinetic” comes out the gates with a nice lean in the saddle and loose grip on the reins. Track 1, “Workin,” is bonafide greasy. Ideateam’s skill with its contemporary take on retro funk-soul grooves is immediately made clear. Even more evident is the vocal control and delivery by Julian Cunningham. Reaffirmed on several other tracks on the album, this kid can belt it.
There is an undeniable strength in the band’s ability to groove. All of its instrumental tracks heighten the album dramatically. Ideateam’s originality is so abundant in tracks such as “Breezy” and “Dr. Jeff.” The half time breakdown on the latter had me bumping my headphones off. Then they follow with a young Luther Vandross-esque soul ballad, “Euphoria.”
All these highly dynamic transitions illustrate an overall theme: This album has something for everyone. A 10-piece ensemble holds a lot of musical perspectives, and the musicians seem to have voiced them all well. The album spans from psychedelic space jams to simple disco, vocal ballads to funk odysseys. Ideateam’s “Kinetic” encapsulates the entire umbrella of “funk” impressively. It is well worth the listen.
– Dan Green