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Year In Review 2012: 5 Funky Ninjas Named Kung Fu

Year In Review 2012: 5 Funky Ninjas Named Kung Fu

The art of Kung Fu is no longer solely associated with Chinese ass-kicking. It now also applies to onstage ass-kicking, in the form of a killer funk fusion outfit from Connecticut. The quintet has had quite a breakthrough 2012 as an anticipated act on bills for major music festivals like Camp Bisco, Bear Creek Music & Art Festival, Catskill Chill and AURA Music & Arts Festival. We caught up with guitarist Tim Palmieri of the nu-funk force to chat about the past year, upcoming holiday shows and new projects in the works for 2013.

The art of Kung Fu is no longer solely associated with Chinese ass-kicking. It now also applies to onstage ass-kicking, in the form of a killer funk fusion outfit from Connecticut. The quintet has had quite a breakthrough 2012 as an anticipated act on bills for major music festivals like Camp Bisco, Bear Creek Music & Art Festival, Catskill Chill and AURA Music & Arts Festival. We caught up with guitarist Tim Palmieri of the nu-funk force to chat about the past year, upcoming holiday shows and new projects in the works for 2013.

Melodysiac: Hi Tim. Last month, Kung Fu played Bear Creek at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for the first time. Any afterthoughts on the fest?
Tim Palmieri: Well, it was our second time in Florida, first time at Bear Creek. We had a really great turnout for our one set on the main stage, which was awesome because you never know how those first appearances are going to be received. I loved the venue, especially the main stage, which was surrounded by trees and natural scenery. I also ended up jamming with Headtronics, featuring DJ Logic, Steve Molitz [Keys; Particle] and a few others for a fun little impromptu jam. Overall, I was very happy and I’m looking forward to returning for AURA in February.

Speaking of AURA, the recent announcement of a Stevie Wonder tribute featuring Kung Fu and Nigel Hall has spurred a lot of excitement from fans surrounding the festival. Will the band be rehearsing with Hall before the festival, or will it be more of an impromptu collaboration?
Rehearsal is absolutely necessary, because although some Stevie [Wonder] songs are easy sounding to the ears, his harmonies are so advanced and complex that a lot of the chords are curveballs. I don’t how many backup singers we will have, because in some songs, there are female vocals, so we are going to cross those bridges when we come to them in a rehearsal space. We will definitely do whatever is necessary – it may even include some members of other bands on the bill. As far as arrangement goes, I came up with a set that spans his entire career, and I’m just waiting for everyone to sign off on it. The last-minute audible would of course be to say, ‘Okay we are going to cover this entire record,’ which I’m totally cool with. However, the only issue with covering an entire record is that you are going to have mellow moments, and for a festival audience we may want to keep it a bit more energized.

You guys have performed with a wide range of supporting acts, venturing into the electronic realm, as well as the instrumental realm. Is there a particular style that you feel best complements the Kung Fu sound?
Well, we certainly like to keep it somewhat within the realm of what we have going on, and that can be categorized as a few elements; certainly funky, dancey and also a little more complex and intellectual. So, as long as an artist reaches those points, it’s good. We do like the contrast of sound, as long as it is not too out there.  An acoustic-bluegrass-string band might be a bit of a clash. We also want to make sure the opener brings the right amount of energy.

Throughout 2012, many artists sat in with Kung Fu, most notably John Gutwillig of the Disco Biscuits and Adam Deitch of Break Science and Lettuce during The Bowl Sessions in April at Brooklyn Bowl. Is there a particular artist you enjoyed playing with most, or that you feel helps bring the band to the next level?
All of the guests at the Brooklyn Bowl were great, and affected the band in different ways. Deitch was certainly a great energy builder. I also really liked when Eric Krasno sat in, because his [guitar] sound is so perfect for Kung Fu. It was a fun chance to not play the guitar and just sit back and watch him jam. I also love playing with Dopapod – they’re a really talented and a great bunch of guys.

I understand that you are currently working on a new album. Will the album feature brand new material?
Well, we started tracking in May, and our bass player actually ended up leaving the band in July, so that put things on halt for a little bit, because we had to bring our new bassist, Chris DeAngelis, up to speed with all of the songs. Once he got all the tunes, he laid down his tracks.  I think we are going to schedule a studio date to record some new stuff, and we want to make sure we get our bassist’s voice in there. So we are just working through that, as we are touring lightly in December and January.

Your New Year’s Eve plans feature a four-night run alongside the Heavy Pets, the McLovins, moe., and a special Phish after-party with Wyllys and the NY Hustler Ensemble in New York City. What’s really in store for the special week?
Well, I am really excited for them all, but especially to open up for moe., because I know a few of the guys well, and I don’t get to see them that often. As far as special plans go, we are looking to keep it fairly organic. I know for the holiday show at Toad’s Place in New Haven on December 22, we’ll have Bill Evans on sax and Elizabeth Delinger on vocals, so we are planning to feature some special songs, and I am really looking forward to that.

Last year, your fundraiser at Toad’s collected $3,000 worth of toys, and you personally delivered them. And this year, you will be donating the toys to Yale New Haven and Bridgeport Children’s Hospital. Is there a specific goal for Kung Fu’s Christmas Spectacular Saturday night, or is just to raise as much as possible?
Yeah, we would love to match last year, and would surely embrace surpassing it. We have been advertising and letting everyone know that if they’re thinking of coming, to make sure to bring some toys, and we hope for the best.

Photos by Kung Fu and Melodysiac © 2012

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victor

December 20th, 2012

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