Clip: Funk Brothers Not Resting On 'Motown' Laurels
Funk Brothers Not Resting On 'Motown' Laurels
Thanks to the success of the 2002 documentary "Standing in the Shadows of
Motown," the Funk Brothers, ostensibly the musical backbone to Motown's
golden era, have finally garnered recognition with the mainstream public.
"There was about 40 Funk Brothers, if you want to know the truth," says
group member Jack Ashford. "So that name Funk Brothers is really blown out
of proportion when it's really the Motown musicians; the guys that really
Having toured in the past with Joan Osborne, Maxi Priest, Darlene Love and
Bootsy Collins, the current Ashford and Hunter-led incarnation of the Funk
Brothers isn't relying on mainstream names to garner attention.
"We had Ali 'Ollie' Woodson of the Temptations and we've had Freda Payne
and Ron Isley," Ashford says. "But we're getting to the point where we
don't need them because our background singers are strong enough to carry
their own. We have Larry Johnson, who was touring with Mark Hayes. He's a
tremendous front man and [keeps] growing."
The Funk Brothers will be touring later this month in New York, Cleveland
and Glenside, Pa., with a full slate of shows expected throughout the year.
As for new recordings, Ashford plans on restarting his vintage label
Ashford Records, which during its reign boasted a roster that included
Lorraine Chandler and Eddie Parker. Ashford says the first release, due out
sometime in 2005, may be a compilation featuring the Funk Brothers
performing with various up-and-coming artists.
"We have to reinvent ourselves," Ashford says. "We can't live on our old
history. Of course, people come out and pay homage and things like that but
I'm not looking for homage. I'm looking for new fans. I'm looking for
something new because I have a lot more to contribute to music other than
what I did back then. Now we have the opportunity to do that, we're just
moving forward because we have a lot of things to do and we have less time
to do it in."
-- John Benson, Cleveland