"It'll Come From Somewhere" By Funktion Key 3

Above: The band, Funk n' Waffles (campus), 19 November 2012.

Recent mix, harmonica'd solo fix, reminder that the ReverbNation page exists (currently #13 in… something).

And the official statement from the band after the passing of Mike Brandt from this plane is below, with my own thanks to our fearless leader Sean Kelly for continuing to polish up tunes whose drum parts were first committed to Fostex over 20 years ago (one of the fringe benefits of playing an instrument that only requires one plug is you can re-track until well after the cows come home!). Had film not been the medium of choice for picture-taking at this point (my then not having owned a real camera), I'd have accompanied the post with a picture of every mic we owned, several running into a Radio Shack mixer, a city works project of stands holding every cymbal I owned at the time, and a beaten-up round badge Gretsch ensemble in an absolute hodgepodge of colors.

UPDATE: I am sad to report that we are no longer an active band due to the untimely passing of our beloved bass player / keyboard player Mike Brandt in October of 2020. His intellect, wit, musical genius (hell, all-around genius), general kindness, and especially his friendship are greatly missed every day. He was entirely irreplaceable.

I am still working on finishing the recordings/mixing/mastering of tunes we had been working on for years, and they will appear on this site as I get them done. I am determined to share Mike’s talent with the world. That will be in the near future [he says optimistically]. So, please stay tuned. Take care, and tell someone you love them today.

Here's the old band bio as it always read.

Funktion Key 3 is a Syracuse, NY area band that plays bluesy rock original music, getting a tad funky from time to time. The band has been a three piece since its inception back in 1998, though we'd been playing together to record original material for a year before officially becoming a band, and still has the original lineup up characters. They are: Damian "Dr. Chops" Allis on drums, Michael Brandt on bass guitar, fretless bass guitar, Chapman Stick, and keyboards; and Sean Kelly on guitars, harmonica, and vocals.

Their repertoire also includes a wide range of cover tunes from the likes of Jethro Tull, Little Feat, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Michael Hedges, Living Colour, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Peter Gabriel, Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack Johnson… which they can pull out when the situation calls for covers.


I hear that bass sound and it makes me happy.

Aside – the ReverbNation plugin for WordPress produces (currently, at least for me) a gigantic whitespace at bottom when you try to put a song in. Use the "embed" option instead with a share link from the artist page (what you're seeing above). And if you're seeing a "502 Bad Gateway" right now, that's because ReverbNation just blew another fuse.

Play Softly And Carry A Thin Pair Of Sticks, Or A Drummer's Guide To CNY Venues, Part 1: The Buzz Cafe, Syracuse

This (what I hope will be a) series of posts stems from a gig that changed the way I approached all the songs I played that evening (specifically, this gig). Changed in the kind of way that I wish the band had had proper notice of the situation we (well, I) were walking into in terms of the room, the acoustics, and the management. On the plus side, Syracuse is undergoing what I think is a slow expansion of mom+pop places that open their doors to live music. This is just fine for most styles of music and small groups. On the down side, these tend to be small places. This is just fine for most styles of music and small groups.

This can be a problem for a set drummer, which can then be a problem for the rest of the band. You rehearse and rehearse with a group at one volume, playing at a level at which you are comfortable playing all the complicated fills and patterns you like. Everyone gets used to hearing certain things and you get use to executing those things. Then you find yourself at a venue with your full kit and an owner who doesn't seem to like loud noises. And by loud noises, I mean sounds generated by the lightest sticks you own using little more than your fingers to propel them several inches. And I understand the hesitancy an owner might have when confronted by a drummer they've never heard, as I've certainly sat near my share of drummers who didn't adjust their playing volume to the room. But with this new adjustment, you're not playing the same song you (and the band) have grown accustomed to. Now, the whole band may find itself reacting to this new dynamic from the drummer, while all the others in the band had to do was turn their volume knobs down a bit.

What's a drummer to do? You can drag a percussion rig around and hope for a rehearsal or two to get used to it, or see this as a golden opportunity to handle the situation with finesse and no small amount of restrained motion (and brushes and various brush-stick intermediates). Grooving a forte tune at pianissimo ain't all that easy if you've not tried it, but your surprise, volume-reduced, 2-or-3-hour gig gives you plenty of time to find out what you can and cannot do with the music you're most comfortable with.

And so…

My band Funktion Key 3 had a gig at The Buzz Cafe on 17 May 2014 from 7 to 9 p.m. A 6 p.m. arrival had me rolling gear directly into the band area next to the front door (no steps!) and moving the drum riser out of the way (the riser not being deep enough for a small set and a drum throne by about 12 inches). A stripped-out Pearl S830 Snare Stand (it's time had come) and plastic bushing removal later, the quick drum tapping to get positions tightened up was enough for the owner to begin playing the levels game – specifically, that my tapping for placement was too loud. If a free-form linear pattern wasn't going to fly, you can imagine what playing hi-hat and snare together would mean to him.


The muted, muffled kit for the evening. Click for a larger view.

To a medium-sized bright room and hardwood floor was added a boomy mix at the very front of the room where the band was, which didn't provide enough feedback to know how loud the band was or wasn't (from the drum throne, anyway). The first set turned into a brush-and-Hot Rod-heavy one where I was asking for volume feedback every few songs (don't remember complaints). By the second set, we'd all adjusted to the new, more open, less busy drum sound and I was back to a light pair of trusty Vater Super Jazz's throughout. As you might expect, dropping the level by two-thirds of what you're used to (and this from rehearsals in a smallish space) has a significant affect on what you play. Crash cymbals get taps that don't bring out the cymbal's bottom end, you ride the ride cymbal mid-way to reduce the ringing, your ghost strokes have almost nowhere else to go when your 2 + 4 are at near-ghost stroke levels, and you're heal-down on the bass drum pedal and hi-hat. The result (for me, anyway) was playing everything music simpler than normal, which by itself is a very good lesson in adjusting to new feels for the same songs.

Now, to reiterate, there are some real lead pipes out there who perform for themselves and not the room. The owner was very, very cool about everything else and I'm appreciative that we had "the discussion" before the gig started, as nothing puts me off more than someone on stage asking for volume (and tempo, don't get me started) changes mid-tune. You can either play to make your statement, or you can play with the hopes of getting invited back. And we definitely enjoyed the whole experience enough to endeavor the latter.

Our taste for the evening was free eats, a healthy tip jar (I've made less playing "legit" gigs than the band made this night), a very easy load/unload, and a knowledge that the band can back-off to fit the space.

With that, three vids from the first and second sets are below from youtube (the Canon T3i at HD only gives you 12 minutes of video, so "Barrelhouse" gets chopped slightly at the end).

Set 1 (Tune 1 of 2)

Inaudible Melodies – by Jack Johnson

Set 1 (most of Tune 2)

Mama Just Wants To Barrelhouse All Night Long – by Bruce Cockburn

Set 2 (all of 1)

Song From The Soul – a Sean Kelly original.