Vassar perennial Sophistafunk still ‘hip,’ soulful

Sophistafunk, Thursday’s ViCE jazz night headliner, has an unusual celebrity endorsement: Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Band member Adam Gold’s Syracuse, NY-based restaurant and music venue, Funk n’ Waffles, was featured on the series’ December 25, 2012 episode.

Gold said, “When we are home in Syracuse we fuel up on Chicken ‘n Waffles and Jive Turkeys. Most recently Adam’s waffle restaurant helped us get to know Guy Fieri and we have since performed for him at his own birthday party!”

The Food Network host liked the band and the waffles so much that Sophistafunk has not only played at Fieri’s birthday party in Santa Rosa, C.A., but was also the first band to play at the International Home and Housewares Convention in Chicago, I.L., at Fieri’s personal request.

As Fieri drove away from Syracuse, a mere hour after filming the show, he listened to the band’s album. And he not only enjoyed the band’s music, but one of Sophistafunk’s songs struck an emotional chord with him—a song about sending someone off into the afterlife on a dragonfly. “Dragonfly” was the nickname Fieri had for his sister, who had recently passed away from cancer.

After listening, Fieri told Gold: “You guys are blowing my mind. I love this music.”

Tonight at 9:00 p.m. in the Mug, Sophistafunk will be performing for Vassar students. The group is an analog soul trio featuring Jack Brown on vocals; Adam Gold on keys, bass, and vocals; and Emanuel Washington on drums.

Jessica Novak, in a Syracuse New Times review (5.15.13), discussed Sophistafunk’s vibe and sound. “The three click together like a well-oiled sound machine. The set is different every night, but always seamless. The songs take little twists and turns that I hear more with each variation, but they never lose their energy or appeal,” wrote Novak (5.15.13). “And they may be only three guys, but I never find myself wishing for more musically. Whenever someone asks how tired I am of the same songs night after night, I tell them that that’s how I know this band is great: because I never get tired of the Sophistafunk sound. It’s funk and soul with lyrics that have meaning that gets deeper and messages that get clearer with every listen,” Novak wrote (5.15.13).

ViCE Jazz member Owen Harrang ’16 is excited for the performance. “The band is super chill,” said Harrang. “They’re pretty hip 30 year olds.”

The band has been together for six years, and collaborated live with everyone from Bernie Worrell of Parliament and Talking Heads, to Nikki Glaspie, who has worked with Beyonce and Dumpstafunk. They have performed at high-profile venues including The Blue Note Jazz Club (NYC), The Boom Boom Room (San Francisco), The Belly Up (Aspen), Brooklyn Bowl (NYC) and more. And in August 2013, Sophistafunk traveled to the UK to tour.

International tours, high profile venues, and famous foodies aside, something about Vassar keeps the band coming back yearly.

“We have a great time at Vassar EVERY TIME,” Gold said, “Y’all have great taste in music and a great vibe and the dance parties are always energizing.”

“Last year they were a favorite of the ViCE jazz series. Everyone was dancing all over the place, and they wanted to come back because Vassar was such a good audience,” added Juliette Boberg ’16, head of ViCE jazz this year.

ViCE jazz is known for bringing bands like Sophistafunk to Vassar. “We make sure to bring talented bands that put on a super fun show,” said Boberg.

Boberg also noted that this year the ViCE contigent is hoping to expand its repertoire. “We are still bringing back bands that came last year, but also want to branch out and feature classical jazz bands, alternative rock bands, R&B, and rap,” she said.

Sophistafunk is sure to be a great way to start the Thursday night series off. Gold said, “We are hot off our UK tour and bringing back that wacky British vibe. Most importantly we are about to release a new EP, Freedom Is, so we are playing a handful of brand new songs off the new record and even some other new ones not yet recorded.”

He added, “We are so excited to be back and to share our new experiences through our art form. Prepare yourselves for a new chapter of heavier and funkier grooves and more powerful conscious lyrics than ever before!”

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