The Funk Ark: "High Noon" + Tour Dates + MP3
After a highly praised debut, Washington DC’s The Funk Ark is back with an even tighter follow up album. Less than a year has passed since the release of From The Rooftops on ESL Music and the world funk ensemble has established itself as one of the strongest players in the scene both in the studio and with their high-octane live performances. High Noon is the title of The Funk Ark’s sophomore release and was recorded and produced by Adrián Quesada of the Grammy award winning group, Grupo Fantasma.
The Funk Ark is the creation of Will Rast, the band’s composer, pianist, and spokesperson, fulfilling his lifelong desire of turning his soul over to The Funk. “I decided to become a musician in high school,” he recalls. “I played my first gigs when I was 15, in bars and jazz clubs around Washington, DC.” Rast worked as a freelance jazz session player and made a name for himself as a stylistically versatile sideman with various R&B and world music artists. With The Funk Ark, he gets to play an amalgamation of all the sounds he loves with some of the best musicians in the DC area. “To me, funk is the universal connection linking all music – people like James Brown and the JBs, The Meters, Santana, Fela Kuti, Medeski, Martin and Wood and The Fania Allstars. The Funk Ark is my shot at making the music that I love to listen to.”
You can feel that spiritual element in every note the Funk Ark plays. The band has only been together for a few years, but they’ve made a huge impact, both in their hometown of Washington DC, and nationwide. From the Rooftops, the band’s explosive debut, garnered universal praise for its bottomless grooves and soulful ensemble playing. On High Noon, the band digs even deeper, with a multi-faceted approach that captures the band’s international perspective and irresistible live energy. “We recorded High Noon in two days in Austin, with Grammy winning producer Adrián Quesada and engineer Sam Patlove at Big Orange Studios,” Rast explains. “Adrián also mixed it and introduced us to Erik Wofford, who mastered the record. We’d perfected the new tunes on the road, then went into the studio and played them live, all of us together in one room.”
The Funk Ark’s full tilt boogie makes High Noon a delight from the first note and comes close to capturing the energy of the band’s live gigs. Things kick off with “Chaga,” a sizzling Afro-funk throw down driven by Rast’s slick Farfisa, sharp horn stabs, and the rhythm section’s bubbling percussion. Matt Rippetoe and Josh Levy trade concise sax solos to keep the temperature high. “419” takes things tribal, with a skewed 5/4 Afro-beat bounce highlighted by R&B horns, Latin flavored percussion and Greg Loman’s stuttering guitar. Guest vocalist Mustafa Akbar adds a hint of sanctified soul to “Funky Southern,” which draws its inspiration from sources closer to home by blending classic DC Go-Go and New Orleans funk. The song tips its hat to the music of the American South, the source of all things funky in the US of A. With its sinuous desert groove, the title track sounds like the soundtrack of a Spaghetti Western filmed in the Sahara. The melodies suggest a late night jam that could be taking place in any club from Atlanta, GA to the Kalakuta Republic. The album’s irresistible pulse never lets up, weaving a hypnotic spell that invites you to become one with the funk.
Funk is the heartbeat of the African Motherland, the thread that links all Western music. Soukous and samba, Afro-beat and Go-Go, jazz and hip-hop – they all throb with the thump of the funk. True to their name, it’s the sound at the core of everything The Funk Ark plays. “Funk seems simple, but it takes an almost spiritual dedication to the music to play it well,” says Rast. “When we’re playing at our best, the music becomes greater than the sum of its parts. What we do requires each player to contribute a small, but integral, part of the whole; when we all lock into the groove, it becomes a sort of meditation.”
The Funk Ark is: Will Rast – Keys (Mya, Ocote Soul Sounds, Federic Aubele, Thievery Corporation); Joe Herrera – Trumpet; Matt Rippetoe – Baritone Sax; Greg Loman – Lead Guitar; Rodney Richardson – Rhythm Guitar; Marc Blackwood – Bass; Josh Kay – Percussion; Lee Durham – Drums; John Spiece – Percussion (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, Ocote Soul Sounds, Marco Benevento, Mike Dillon, Hairy Apes BMX); Josh Levy – Baritone Sax, Flute (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout Ocote Soul Sounds); Mustafa Akbar – vocals on Funky Southern."
TOUR DATES 4/20 @ Mauch Chunk Opera House - Jim Thorpe, PA 4/21 @ Martin's Downtown - Roanoke, VA 4/26 @ Doc Taylor's Seaside Market Lounge - Virginia Beach, VA 5/04 @ Stage One - Fairfield, CT 5/05 @ Empire Dine And Dance - Portland, ME 5/12 @ The Hamilton - Washington, DC 5/19 @ Balliceaux - Richmond, VA 6/28 @ Electric Forest Festival – Rothbury, MI