Funky Johnson’s sounds out across Summit County
Ryan Summerlin February 14, 2013
Funky Johnson plays the first Friday of each month at the Goat Soup & Whiskey Tavern in Keystone and the third Friday at The Motherloaded Tavern in Breckenridge, plus most weekends in between. The group is Chris Bauer (guitar and vocals), Dan Brewer (bass), Dave Nichol (drums), Jessica Jones (vocals) and Chris Zaragoza (percussion). They play funk, old soul and rhythm and blues, including both covers and originals. Brewer and Bauer, both ski patrollers at Keystone Resort, came up with the idea that Summit County needed a funk band while sitting around jamming one night. “There is an overabundance of bluegrass and jam bands in Summit County,” Brewer joked. “I’m in one of those bands and Chris plays in another, so it’s just nice to play something different.” Brewer also plays in the jam act, High Five, and Bauer plays with The Luv Brothers, a bluegrass band.What began as a trio in 2011 is now a six-piece band when saxophonist Jason Gabriel joins in, which has been a lot lately. Zaragoza is new to the group too, and the vocalist, Jones, came on board in the fall of 2012. “It’s just getting tighter, easier for everybody,” Brewer said on Funky Johnson’s growing size. Jones was an important addition. “She helped us evolve into more of a soul music, R&B, Motown-type band and it just rounded us off with the female vocals being added to the sound we already had,” he said. “She’s got some pipes on her.” Previously the group was doing more “instrumental funky-type stuff” and “a lot more jamming,” he said. “Now we’re doing a lot more songwriting and full-on songs.” Among them are crowd favorites like “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye, “My Girl” by The Temptations and “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5. “I guess people just like old Motown music. It makes them feel good,” Brewer said. “There’s no age group; we get a lot of folks that are a little older and folks that are a little younger so it’s pretty cool to see that. Typically at The Motherloaded they’re dancing on the tables and having a good time.” He recounts a night playing at the Snake River Saloon in Keystone: The dance floor was packed and people were getting down when suddenly, one of the dancers fell. “Come to find out she tore her ACL while dancing to the funky sounds of Funky Johnson,” Brewer said. “An ambulance came, and a fire truck; it was the best light show we’ve ever had.”The band’s name started as a joke among friends, who – for whatever the reason – liked to call each other “Johnson.” Then they put “funky” in front of it. “We never thought of the correlation of what a ‘Johnson’ might be until after we made the name,” Brewer swears.The band is about getting folks on the dance floor – or the tables, as the case may be – and making them feel good, Brewer said. Catch the group tonight at The Motherloaded Tavern or Feb. 22 at Jonny G’s in Frisco.