Celebrating Two Decades of Funk

October 2, 2014 |
Funky Bonz photo courtesy of Brent Kort

Funky Bonz
photo courtesy of Brent Kort

While it may seem like being a musician in a band is a glorious, instantly rewarding, fool-proof way to shine in the spotlight and soak up all of the success that comes with performing on stage and recording albums, the sad truth is that most musical outfits are short lived and only have the lifespan of around two years (if you’re lucky). But despite those dismal odds, some bands are able to rise above the usual cases of inner-band drama, creative differences and musical ennui that typically capsize most groups.

One stunning example lies in Tucson’s very own Funky Bonz, which has been cranking out albums and electrifying live audiences for over 21 years. If that doesn’t impress you, then perhaps taking a listen to the band’s groove-filled, genre-hopping funk will.

Founded in 1991 by singer Brent Kort (who has remained as the only constant member), the group found its niche in the flourishing Tucson music scene as it quickly gained popularity for impressive musicianship and upbeat songwriting.

“Some of our songs have lasted for over 20 years, but our songwriting skills have definitely evolved and I rely a lot on my band members’ talent as well,” reflects Kort. “I love all of my original members, but when I started replacing members when they were leaving, I always gained some extra elements added into the music. At one point we added horns and have been a horn-driven funk band. We’ve seen a lot of different versions of this band, and I am very excited about the current line up we have.”

Merging funk, blues, reggae, rock, jam and dance music into its own personal style, Funky Bonz has made a big name for itself in the Southwest. The band has received six TAMMIES (Tucson Area Music Awards) and have shared the stage with acts such as Bootsy Collins, AWOLNATION, Fishbone, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Weapon of Choice, Leftover Salmon, Ozomatli, The Slackers and many other heavy hitters. But even with the success that Kort and Funky Bonz have experienced, the members never let it get to their heads and they remain fixed on why they first began playing music – writing danceable, upbeat songs just for the funk of it.

“I’ve never had any delusions of grandeur with this, and we’ve been through so many stages with this band and endured it all. For a while we were weekend warriors who were always touring the Southwest, though now we’re mainly homebodies, but we do still play out of town every once in a while,” says Kort. “It’s fun to collaborate with other musicians and we’ve never taken ourselves too seriously. We just like to play in front of a crowd and have a good time. I love writing music and I couldn’t ask for better people to share these visions in my head with and perform them out live for people.”

To celebrate its twenty plus years as a band, Funky Bonz released a retrospective album that encompasses the music created by the ensemble over the past two decades titled Buried Bonz: A Recorded History, Volume 1. This pseudo-greatest hits album offers a selection of the best songs from previous records, unreleased material, covers and even new tracks that the band recently recorded in Wavelab Studios. The album is currently available on iTunes.

“We went into Wavelab Studios and we recorded a few new songs for it, so there will be brand new stuff with our new members. I always love going into the studio and I wish I could spend more time in it, but time is money. I love Wavelab and I’ve always loved working in there,” says Kort. “I’ve had great experiences in the studio and this time we brought in guests to play with us on some songs. We were on a short-lived label called ExPat Records, so we made an EP for them that was only released through their distribution, but those songs will be on this. It’ll be a little old, a little new and all funk.”

Funky Bonz will also be celebrating by performing Downtown on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. as part of 2nd Saturdays on the Scott Avenue stage. With a stellar new horn section and a talented line up supporting him, Kort feels that his current lineup is one of his best ever. And if previous concerts serve as any indication, then Funky Bonz’s October 2nd Saturdays performance is one not to be missed.

“We’re going to play a lot of the songs off of our new album starting with our new stuff. We’re really looking forward to it because (2nd Saturdays) is one of the best stages to play at in town and it is really one of the best events in town. There’s always a great crowd that really seem to enjoy live music. Tucson is a great place for music because there are plenty of bars that give bands the opportunity to play for people and there are plenty of bands that come through town to play here. We have a very versatile scene here in Tucson.”

Visit Facebook.com/FunkyBonz for updates on shows and new albums. To purchase the music of Funky Bonz, visit iTunes. See 2ndSaturdays.com for more information on the Oct. 11 event.

Funky Bonz photo courtesy Brent Kort

Funky Bonz
photo courtesy Brent Kort