Grooves of James Brown’s band and the Big Easy blast into Breckenridge |

Grooves of James Brown’s band and the Big Easy blast into Breckenridge

Kimberly Nicoletti

BRECKENRIDGE – The Big Easy blasts into Breckenridge when Papa Grows Funk fuses rock, jazz and blues into a funky groove that heats up as the band members interact in a musical dialogue.

“We just start tossing things out,” frontman John Gros said. “It’s a different conversation every night, because we have a lot to say and most of it is just hilarious nonsense where we’re all trying to make each other crack up. Our chemistry as bandmates is really strong, and I think that’s what makes our music really strong.”

The band is a powerhouse of musicians hailing from the Funky Meters, Wild Magnolias, Galactic and George Porter Jr.’s band. Drummer Russell Batiste Jr., originally from the Funky Meters, transforms simple grooves into complex syncopations.

“He finds a way to take anything we’re doing and turn it upside down and inside out,” Gros said. “We never know what he’s going to do.”

June Yamagishi of the Wild Magnolias is the rhythm master of the band.

“He is funk, funk, funky,” Gros said. “No matter how hard the groove is going, June finds a way to soar on top of it all. No matter how high the roof is, he finds a way to blow it off.”

Sax player Jason Mingledorff, formerly of Galactic, earned his nickname as Big Wind by pushing the other band members to match his high level of performance.

Bassist Peter V, of Cyrill Neville, is the master of the groove.

“Once he starts laying down a groove, he just gets in a zone for three or four hours and we just ride on his groove,” Gros said.

The funksters are serious about the Big Easy sound that goes back more than 100 years, originating from Cuba.

“It’s a lifestyle,” Gros said. “It’s a way of communication for us. It’s a celebration of life, an expression of the culture of New Orleans.”

When Papa Grows Funk shows up,the band throws a party, New Orleans style.

“No matter who shows up, it seems everybody’s just screaming by the end of the night,” Gros said.

Soul Power Posse, from James Brown’s back-up band, opens the party, connecting funk from the 1960s with hits of the new millennium.

“It’s high-energy, party funk music,” sax player Leroy Harper said. “It’s kinda like bands used to be in the 1970s.”

Waldo Weathers, who played sax with Charley Pride and Brown, sings lead vocals steeped in traditional rhythm-and-blues roots. Damon Woods brings the bluesy spirit of the guitar and mixes it with funk and cutting edge sounds. Drummer Robert Mousy Thompson, originally of Peaches and Herb, brings the heart and soul of the Brown groove.

Tickets are $17 in advance, $19 the day of the show and may be purchased by calling (970) 547-3100 or logging onto www.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail

Event: Soul Power Posse and Papa Grows Funk

When: 8 p.m., Friday, July 5

Where: Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge

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