Funk can't be faked. It's one of those musical styles that customarily fails if you're not genuine about doing it. In college, I saw a good share of trust-fund funksters fall flat, their grooves eclipsed by their propensity to noodle jazz arpeggios on $8,000 guitars. The beat, it must be said, wasn't brought.
Harmonious Junk doesn't fake it. While the Denver four-piece shows no fear of the jam, their roots and their joy clearly connect to playing a solid blend of funk, jazz and R&B.
Led by James Brown Band rhythm guitarist Damon Wood, the group (Jack Alterman on bass, Chad Aman on keys and Mario di Bona on drums) is enjoying local fame and critical success for their first disc, Space Cadet, a 10-track tour through all things old-school. There certainly is some Stevie Ray Vaughn in Wood's guitar work, but there also are healthy doses of Allman-esque riffs and Hendrix improv, and even sprinklings of Walter Becker.
Wood clearly has the chops to bring it, but Harmonious provides him and the rest of the band an outlet to show off a wide range of skills.
Wood started his career in Las Vegas, playing in prog-rock bands, Vegas-style oldies outfits and a touring Southern rock project with Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman Jimmie Van Zant. Then he formed the soul-rock group that caught James Brown's eye and prompted the Hardest Working Man in Show Business to offer Wood a temporary place in his band as part of a European tour.
Years later, the guitarist is enjoying a permanent-ish slot in the James Brown Band, as well as his side-project efforts.
Harmonious has gained a well-earned reputation in Denver as the party band du jour, alternating their own compositions with cover hits that run the gamut from Stevie Wonder to Otis Redding.
Bring the party, I say. Everybody needs a little funk now and then. Just mean it.
-- Aaron Retka
Jose Muldoon's, 222 N. Tejon St.
Friday, Sept. 9, 8 p.m.
Free; check out harmoniousjunk.com for more.