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Open up to mojo


I think it was during this year's Jazz Fest that I really began to draw parallels not only between music and the human condition but between music and the human body. I mean, I dig the the 1-4-5 and a thundering 4/4 beat, but exploratory, fluctuating rhythms seem more anatomically correct somehow. But in keeping with the rock 'n' roll jones, it's still gotta have that sweet driving beat to get 'emoutta their seats, and on their feet.

Austin, Texas' GrupoFantasma has that biological polyrhythm in its veins along with an undeniable beat. The band launched the new Pole-A-Palooza series downtown this past Wednesday. The sky above downtown looked like a giant bruise prior to the band's set, but that didn't seem to scare off a crowd of roughly 1,000. That's probably the biggest amount of feet to beat the pavement down there at one time since the 1970s. And with the help of GrupoFantasma, that's exactly what they did. The group's blend of funk, mambo, merengue, and cumbia had hips going in all directions. Great vibe, great show, great location.

Friday night and I got to share the bill with The Broke Down and The New York Vaults. The Broke Down is anything but and plays the kind of swingin' rock 'n' roll boogie Johnny Reno does when he ain'tsaxin' it up with Chris Isaak. Croonin' Kurt's baritone sounded as good as ever, as did the cool paring of a rockin' outfit with a lone trumpet leading the charge.

The Vaults added plenty of spectacle to the show with the fog and lights adding motion to their black-clad minimalist choreography. The guitars sounded particularly good and I attribute that to a willingness to opening yourself up to mojo. Guitarist Von Nortney plays muscle-car rock but his soul wallows in Muscle Sholes. And he obviously digs the voodoo that they did so well in the Delta. We have plans to go over to Son House's Corn Hill crib and bury some slides in the front yard. We'll dig 'em up after a spell, and man, wait'll you hear us play then.

--- Frank De Blase

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