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The Funky Coast P1.

 September 16, 2022 at 9:15 AM PDT

S1: Welcome to the KPBS Summer Music Series. In this episode , we talk to the Gray Boy All-Stars who put San Diego on the map with their funky brand of West Coast Boogaloo. Plus Euphoria , brass bands share their funky West Coast second line jazz and give us a special in-studio performance. That's next. Welcome to the KPBS summer music series. San Diego's own Music Discovery podcast that features encore presentations of our best in-studio performances and interviews celebrating our diverse music scene and beyond. I'm your host , Kurt Conal. In the early nineties , Acid Jazz Pioneers , the Gray Boy All-Stars put San Diego on the map with their funky brand of West Coast Boogaloo. Since then , their unique style has given rise to many new artists following in their footsteps. The Grey Boy , All Allstars , spoke with KPBS , Alice and Saint John about their first album in over seven years. But first , we hear the title track Como de Stars.

S2: Your voice. Anything you hope can be really tried.

UU: Well , I did go to the States.

S3: That was the Grey Boy All-Stars with Como El Stars , the title track from their new album , The Gray Boy All-Stars. Our Karl Denson on sax and flute and vocals to , I believe , Robert Walter on Keys , Elgin Park guitar , Chris Stillwell bass , and Aaron Redfield on drums. And with us now , we have Carl , Robert and Elgin. Thank you so much for joining us on Midday Edition. Hi.

S4: Hi. Thanks for having us. Hi.

S2: Hi.

S3: Hi there. So now the song we just heard , Comedy Allstars is great , but unlike a lot of your songs , it has vocals. Tell us what the song is about.

S4: This is elegant. And yeah , I wrote the lyrics and Carl sang it beautifully and we sang it sort of as a group vocal , you know , we just wanted to make something that that had sort of like a positive message , I think. I think the overall feeling for the record was trying to create something positive that people could kind of have a good time to. But also it was our responsibility to contribute something that had some politically minded content appropriate for our times that we're living in and not just kind of sit on the sidelines and just watch the thing go down in flames. So just trying to , you know , let people know they have power to change their lives and get together and make a positive change.

S5: In yourself in.

UU: A way. I think.

S2: I think it really speaks to the the idea of everybody getting out there and voting for one thing. We released it and I heard it the first time. I thought , this is a great get out and vote single. So that made me happy.

S3: So let's go back to your roots a little bit.

S2: I met D.J. great boy back in 1992. He came to a show that I was doing in Orange County , California , and through a friend of mine , I met him through a friend , and he was doing his deejay thing and he wanted some live instruments. I think the coolest thing about it was when we met we started talking about music and the word boogaloo came out of both of our mouths almost simultaneously. So that kind of sealed the deal for he and I. And then a year later , after we had done we had done a couple of recordings together. I walked into a garage and Robert and Mike were there.

S6: So I loved like The Meters and James Brown and , you know , had a Ramsey Lewis record and a Herbie Hancock record. But I didn't have those , like Prestige and Blue Note , Lou Donaldson and Rusty Bryant , you know , Boogaloo , Joe Johns , all that stuff kind of came from. Grays , great deejay , great voices. The mixtape you made for us. Right.

S2: Right.

S6: And I was like , Oh , my God , what is this music ? And where's it's been all my life ? Because it did it had all the things I liked about funk music , the tones in the in the hell. It was physical , but it also had all this great improvisation. And and I just thought that was such a cool combination. Yeah.

S3: Yeah. So you sort of started in the classics , sort of in the garage Starting Point.

S2: And I really think that , you know , that identifies us to me , like what we really are because we're like this. We always go out and tour at the beginning of the band and you know , the whole acid jazz thing was happening , but we were really the only ones doing what we did. And it was this , this like purity of sticking to the , to this kind of jazzier format where we didn't get we didn't really get lost into , like , trying to be a dance man or trying to be a funk band or trying to be something else. We were always kind of like , let's be a jazz band that people dance to. And and I really feel like that created the term West Coast Boogaloo. And , and that's pretty much what we still are.

S3: But it is kind of black American music genre that you've taken and molded into your own creative form.

S6: I heard those records and I was like , This is so cool. I want to kind of figure out how to do this. So at the beginning it was to me it was like a tribute to these things and maybe trying to shine some light on this music that's popular. But by the act of doing it for so long and in so many shows and playing on the road , I feel like we've internalized that and now we can really speak that language in an authentic way that's not imitative , you know ? But it took some time and over the years we've all gotten better at it , I think.

S3: Talk to me about the San Diego music scene back in the early nineties and how the Groove Boy All-Stars got started.

S6: If I'm not mistaken , Deejay Gray Boy already had Wednesday nights going at the place called the Green Circle Bar in downtown San Diego. But there wasn't really a scene for this particular kind of thing except for Gray had this night on Wednesdays and we started playing. He would play before us. We play a set , he'd play in between , we play a set and then he'd play after. And it just kind of snowballed from there. We started playing , taking little trips out to San Francisco , and we went to Europe a couple of times and and it kind of organically grew into a band.

S2: And at one point in San Diego , we literally could work seven nights a week playing this music. It was it was an. Amazing.

S6: Amazing.

S2: Period that we actually just played around town in San Diego all the time. It was amazing.

S3: That was so dream from the Grey Boy Allstars 1994 album , West Coast Boogaloo. So now it's been seven years since your last album.


S6: We were in Houston and we had a gig that was supposed to be out outdoors and there was a rainstorm. So the the thing was canceled for rain. And we had all been thinking it's time to write some new music. And luckily , we were you know , we had a night off all of a sudden. So we decided to rent a little studio and start writing music. And we wrote about half the album in that that one night off , you know , we could have just sat around the hotel , but we were like , might as well just play it. And it came together really fast. And I think that's part of the charm of this album , is that we did it so quickly and nothing's too over considered. And it , it just felt like we wanted some music that we could play live to freshen up the setlists. And that's kind of what we made. We just made some music that we wanted to play.

S3: Well , it's a good thing we've got your new album , The Grey Boy Allstars new album Como the All-Stars , which is out now. Carl Vinson , Robert Walter and Elgin , part of the Grey Boy All-Stars. Thanks so much for stopping by.

S4: Thanks for having us.

S2: Thank you.

S6: Thank you.

S1: Up next , a special in-studio performance by San Diego's own Euphoria brass band. Welcome back to the KPBS Summer Music Series. If you've ever been to New Orleans , you've probably witnessed the brassy bayou sounds of bands marching down cobblestone streets to celebrate the life and homegoing of someone beloved. Well , today , instead of the cobblestone streets , we're bringing the New Orleans tradition to you. From the studio of KPBS. After numerous consecutive nominations , they recently won San Diego Music Award for Best Jazz. Euphoria Brass Band sat down with Midday Edition's Jade Hindman to talk about second line jazz and give us a special in-studio performance.

UU: And I am. And. I. And. Now. And. And.

S7: That was Euphoria Brass Band performing Rosarito Bus Stop. Euphoria Brass Band is JP Bouma on the baritone and alto sax , Drew Miller on the bass drum. Ron Boesch and on the snare drums. Steve Abner on the trumpet , April West on the trombone , David Jackson on the tenor sax and Wayne Rice on the sousaphone. Welcome , you guys.

S8: Thanks for having us.

S9: Appreciate it.


S9: Yes , New Orleans radio show , close to 20 years now. This gentleman here , Ron Beauchesne , had come west post-Katrina. He was living in New Orleans for about 19 years. And maybe it's better off to let him tell you a little bit about what happened.

S8: I'm driving down the coast somewhere in Carlsbad and Rebirth Brass Band is on the radio. I forgot for a moment I was in Carlsbad. And.

S5: And.

S8: It was just such a good feeling. I just I got Dru's email. I hit him up right away and I said , Let's get together because I got a lot of music I'd love to share with you from New Orleans. So we got together , had coffee and read at the end. I said , Man , I'd love to start a brass band out here. And Drew's like.

S9: I'll be your bass. Drummer.

S6: Drummer. Man.

S5: Man.

S2: I got this.

S7: So for people who don't know what is a second line parade.

S9: Second line really comes originally from the jazz funeral tradition , where the social aid and pleasure clubs formed early on. I'm talking late 1800s to take care of their their folk. You know , if someone was sick , they would pay their dues and that money would go towards helping this person with hospital bills , medical bills. And then when someone would pass away , when they die , these funds again would be used for celebration of life for for the deceased. And so the second line , essentially in a jazz funeral procession , you have your first line , which is , of course , the deceased in the in the casket , perhaps driven by a horse drawn carriage and the family members. So there's your first line. Right behind the family is the brass band and everyone else , their friends and folks who knew the deceased. And they make their way in a somber way , playing the bands , playing a dirge , something very spiritual , slow and mournful to the graveside. They go through the process of laying the body to rest. They start their way back now from the graveside and folks come off a stoops off their front porches out of their homes. And anybody and everybody can jump into this second line parade. This has now begun and they're stopping at watering holes , maybe some favorite bars of the person who passed away. Now you see second lines going on every Sunday. Doesn't have to be tied to a funeral. They're doing it as community for getting folks to come together and enjoy life and the better things that are in this this crazy life that we lead.

S8: Any reason for a parade ? Exactly.

S9: Your primary. Day.

S8: Day. Arbor Day. Let's do it.

S9: Yeah , yeah , yeah , yeah.

S7: The sun came out today. Let's do a second line.

S9: Come on. So brass bands get involved and they start these. These wonderful processions that could go on for 4 hours and stop at bars along the way. And they get back into the streets and the people coming from everywhere to get involved. Yes.

S7: Thanks , man. That's super cool. Euphoria , brass band , thank you so much.

S9: Thank you so much for having me. Appreciate it.

S1: Thanks for listening to the KPBS summer music series. John Decker is Interim Associate General Manager of Content. Lisa Jane Morissette , operations manager. And Megan Burke , senior producer. To catch a new episode every two weeks , subscribe wherever you get podcasts and for performance videos and more great artists visit KPBS. Jorge's Summer Music Series. I'm Kurt CONAN.

Greyboy Allstars band members from left to right: keyboardist Robert Walter, guitarist Elgin Park, saxophonist Karl Denson,  drummer Aaron Redfield and bassist Chris Stillwell in an undated photo.
Robbie Jeffers
Greyboy Allstars band members from left to right: keyboardist Robert Walter, guitarist Elgin Park, saxophonist Karl Denson, drummer Aaron Redfield and bassist Chris Stillwell in an undated photo.

In the early 1990’s, acid-jazz pioneers The Greyboy Allstars put San Diego on the map with their funky brand of West Coast Boogaloo. Since then, their unique style has given rise to many new artists following in their footsteps. We speak to The Greyboy Allstars and hear music from their most recent album, “Como De Allstars.”

Next, if you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you’ve probably witnessed the brassy bayou sounds of bands marching down cobblestone streets to celebrate the life and homegoing of someone beloved. We’re bringing that New Orleans tradition to you from the studio of KPBS. Euphoria Brass Band shares their special brand of funky west coast second line jazz.

Credits: Produced and hosted by Kurt Kohnen, Jade Hindmon, and Alison St John. Megan Burke is senior producer.