The coveted Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver, Colorado, was blessed with a full force of funky goodness on Friday, November 3rd. Denver act The Elegant Plums kicked the evening off with their 10-piece band of musicians delivering a fun-loving blend of Funk, Soul, Rock, and Disco (to name a few). Their undeniable and huge stage presence set the energetic mood on a funky foot with lovely harmonies, a full horn section, and forward pushing dance vibes.
Next up was a big one – a Denver debut for the Italian guitar phenom, Giacomo Turra, and his brilliant band, consisting of Francesco Dallago (bass and vocals), Anna Polinari (keys and vocals), Alessandro Russo (saxophone and percussion), and Matteo Dallapè (drums). Channeling his own style fused with the best in American Funk music, the sound bridges classic Funk and R&B. This being their first large U.S. tour, the crowd was extra psyched to welcome the lovable Europeans to the Mile High City.
Immediately upon gracing the stage, Turra asks “You guys like Funk music?” Excited cheers answered a unanimous ‘YES,’ as the band skipped zero beats getting straight into the groove. With Giacomo leading the way, the band ripped through funky staples, sampling Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots,” an tastefully wonderful funky cover of Mac Miller’s “What’s the Use,” and a tease of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” The collaborative passing of musical energy between Turra blends so well with each member of the band holding their own. Anna Polinari’s angelic voice as she delivers the soprano vocals and hits the licks on keys, casting spells to keep the magic alive.
Slick bass grooves kept in line by musician Francesco Dallago meshed perfectly with Matteo Dallapè as he kept time throughout the set as the band ethereally moved through original tune “Summer in 1984.” They then cascaded into “Get Into The Groove,” Turra’s first original released in summer of 2022 with musician Mikey Jose, who has been with the band on a handful of their tour dates. This delectable track features Anna and Mikey (at this show, Turra) trading vox while deep-cut sax lines run through the funk number that aligns perfectly with the song’s name.
As the captivated audience raged on, the band medley’d through classic cuts like House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West,” and an instrumental sample of Michael Jackon’s “Rock with You.” Besides just watching Turra do his thing on the rhythm guitar, a highlight of the night was when Francesco Dallago took over and played an Italian Disco song, serenading the crowd in his first language as Turra stood alongside his bud, hyping him up and harmonizing along the way.
The surprises just kept showing up, this time via a mashup between Chic’s “Le Freak” and Yolanda Be Cool and DCup’s “We No Speak Americano,” which was obviously a huge moment for the bouncy Americans. Saxophone and percussion player Alessandro Russo kept the happiness flowing all the way through – when he wasn’t touting his horn, his smile beamed right into the heart’s of everyone in the crowd. The set capped off with another welcome curveball, transitioning from Kool & the Gang to Tom Misch…what a way to show Denver what the FUNK is up!
After a quick switchover, the headliners for the eve, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, prepared to teach us their lessons in funky Soul-Jazz. When they took the stage, the trio immediately entered into a DLO3 staple “Chicken Leg.” Delvon didn’t hesitate to start cracking jokes as he introduced the new faces in his trio. “They play way better than they look,” he said as he welcomed Austin, Texas’s Josh Perdue, “who could be a King of the Hill character” on guitar and Atlanta, Georgia’s Sam Groveman who “looks like the original nutty professor,” who who met on TikTok, on the drum kit.
With a lighthearted air in the atmosphere, the band ripped into a new tune called “Get Cha Mind Together”, featuring Josh bringing his soulful Rock and Roll playing to the front of the field. A one from the historical Funk playbook unwound its deliciously sensual story over the course of the next six minutes, “Can’t Hide Love,” by Earth, Wind & Fire. Full-bodied guitar shreds and a thumping pocket from Groveman, fused with Delvon’s meticulous playing of the Hammond translates into a simply simpatico symphony.
The way Lamarr performs is mesmerizing, allowing the organ to serve as the non-vocalized vocals in the group. It’s truly wild watching his feet operate the pedalboard. At one point, moved off the side of his bench, squatted down, and scratched his back on the corner of his seat – totally comfortable in his element. Lamarr cued Josh to start the next one off, and to Lamarr’s surprise, Josh completely ripped into what I am 99% sure was the guitar intro to Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”
With a smile on his face, Josh concluded his caveat, Lamarr chuckled, and the trio dipped into the arguably most popular cover of theirs that needs no explanation, Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up.” There’s no other way to describe the DLO3 version of this funky Soul standard then by the word nasty, in the best meaning of the word possible. The classics continued into James Brown’s “Ain’t It Funky Now.”
Very upbeat and foot-stompin’ original “Between the Mustard and the Mayo” (which might I say, is quite possibly the best name for a song ever) kept the crowd pumping as Delvon and band laid it into their instruments. A pleasing rarity proceeded next, as Delvon and Josh stepped off the stage for a few minutes, welcoming Sam Groveman to combat the stage with an impressive and fun solo sesh on his kit.
The trio returned with “Bounce,” taking a turn towards the land of Hip-Hop, catapulting the crew into sonic realms of pure bliss. As the infamous disco ball was lit up and rainbow lights blanketed gracefully over the three players, the crowd continued to groove through the last few numbers, making sure to leave all their chops for the fans to completely soak in before funky Friday was concluded in proper fashion.