Friday, August 06, 2010

Spotlight Artist: The Funky Fritters

Our series of Spotlight Artists features some of NYC's top musical talents. Next up is Danny Drexler, guitarist for The Funky Fritters. Danny is a long time reader of MurphGuide. I got to know him better this year when MurphGuide was a sponsor for his Mardi Gras Party. You can find his gigs listed on the MurphGuide Events Calendar.

The Funky Fritters Line-up
Danny Drexler — Guitar
Marvin Joshua — Vocals
Maggie Kus — Vocals
Celeste Fleurival — Vocals
Jay Gracin — Guitar
Roy Shimmyo — Bass
Towner Galaher - Drums
Marshall Nichols — Trumpet
Fingers Delray — Keyboards
Brad Madsen — Trombone
Tim Veeder — Sax
How long have you been performing?
I started performing in bands in college. First real good serious band was called West of Here and that was about 16 years ago. We had a regular once a month gig at Crossroads on the Upper East Side. One of my favorite hangs. My present band The Funky Fritters actually started performing in 2003 under the original name Ma Skillet & The Funky Fritters. They went through some major personnel changes and re-emerged in 2005 as The Funky Fritters.

How long performing in NYC?
About 16 years ago with West of Here. The Fritters have always been NYC based so except for a few shows out of town like Block Island, The Hamptons or Westchester, our shows are generally in downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn.

Past lives (i.e., previous bands, your early years):
Before I formed The Funky Fritters I've had many bands that lasted a few gigs to a few years. West of Here, was one of the more successful old bands which did a lot of classic rock and we wrote a lot of our own stuff. We actually got up to about half original material in our shows. Those were some very good times. There we quite a few short lived acts that followed from Jelly Roll, to The Alligators to Last Lonely Eagle. Just prior to Ma Skillet & The Funky Fritters, I put together an acoustic country blues, folk, bluegrass & gospel band called Whiskey River. Besides for guitar we had fiddle, banjo, mandolin and 3 great looking gals who could really sing and harmonize. The band had a lot of potential and probably could have been very successful very quickly. But the bass player kept showing up late and stoned to rehearsals. And then spent half the time in the kitchen with the munchies. It was to the point where I had to hide all the good snacks! There was a real range in the band from very inexperienced and novice players to seasoned folks so that was a problem. It got frustrating to me that people weren't hearing or didn't care about obvious mistakes.

Favorite venues to play:
As I mentioned before I used to love playing Crossroads. There were a lot of friends in the audience as it was my regular hang out even when I wasn't playing.
Musical influences:
Going back to the beginning when I was very little. Maybe I was about 8 or 10 years old and I found a bunch 8 track tapes that my parents had. The coolest thing that I discovered was Creedence Clearwater Revival. I think this was a total fluke that my parents had this because the rest of the tapes were stuff like Ray Coniff & Montivoni. But luckily there was one cool tape from CCR, I think it was the Willie and the poorboys album. My friends and I listened to it over and over again. "Down on the Corner" was our favorite song. And there was another cool gospel tune I liked called "Cotton Fields", which I found out much later was a Lead Belly tune. As you can see my roots are quite different then teeny boppers today.

Other early favorites were the Beatles and Beach Boys. Then the Doors and then my Brother introduced me to The Grateful Dead and turned my world upside down. I love Garcia's playing. Say the Dead about a hundred times. I was into all the classic Rock at the time from Led Zeppelin to the Who and Stones, Pink Floyd and southern rock was big with The Allman Brothers and Marshall Tucker, The Band & Eric Clapton. Also loved softer stuff like Simon and Garfunkel, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens and The Eagles. I just soaked it all in. I came across Bob Marley in high school and even got into New Wave in college.

My college roommate turned me onto BB King and that's when I started getting into the blues & jazz. I was at an outdoor jazz concert at school and was blown away. I didn't discover New Olreans music until a little over 15 years ago, when my sister's boyfriend at the time insisted I join them for a trip down there to the Jazz Fest with his sister and friend. I had recalled that a bunch of coworkers went down about 5 years earlier for the Fest and raved about it. (I'm sorry i didn't make it down there then!) Needles to say I instantly fell in love with New Orleans. Great music, food, culture. I love the French Quarter. The next year I went back again with some of my friends and within a few years I was leading a group of about friends people down there! I must have gone down to the Jazz Fest nine years in a row. My NOLA experiences have shaped the sound and direction of my music with The Funky Fritters.

My recent favorites are Gatemouth Brown, The Funky Meters, The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Marcia Ball, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Rebirth Brass Band, Fats Domino, Buckwheat Zydeco, Louis Armstrong, Taj Mahal, The Marsalis family & Muddy Waters.

Blatant self-promotion: What would you like to plug?
Our recently released CD...Deep Fried Live

and our next show...
Friday, August 6
Put on Your Neon: Dance Party
Put on Your NeonLive music party by 5 bands:
8pm: LP Stiles
9pm: Laura Cheadle
10pm: The Funky Fritters
11pm: Mamarazzi
12am: Heylady
$10 cover includes an open bar from 9-10pm
with $1 shots for those who dress for the theme
and $4 beer/$5 mixed drink specials all night.
Doors open 8pm
Crash Mansion
199 Bowery
New York, NY

Where can we buy your music?
You can buy Deep Fried Live on, iTunes or Myspace

Twitter: @funkyfritters
Reverb Nation:
Apparel for sale:

Tell us a story or anecdote about performing live in NYC.
At a recent Tea Lounge show in Park slope a fan led the audience in a second line march during our performance of our new original song "March on down on the second line." Our singers Marvin, Maggie and Celeste jumped out into the audience and joined the march with the audience! They circled the whole place about a half a dozen times and made it back on stage just in time to sing the last choruses. I looked over at Travis Sullivan (from Bjorkestra fame) who was sitting in on sax with us for this show, and we both started cracking up! What was happening in the audience was so totally hilarious and unexpected. It was a real change of roles. The audience had become the entertainers and the band had become the spectators. That was the most fun I have ever had on stage. I hope this is a sign of the good times to come.

Any advice to someone just starting out?
This will probably sound cliche but it's all true: practice hard, don't give up on your dream and don't let anyone tell you you can't do something!

Can you recommend any other acts we should feature on MurphGuide?
Ex Caminos, Zen Tricksters, Brian Mitchell, Bill Sims, Jr., Bruce Katz (a 3 time Blues Music Award nominee for "Piano Player of the Year").

Thanks, Danny! We leave you with a video from a 2009 performance at The Bitter End: "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky". Now who can argue with that?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this band.