This month John Wheatcroft in­vites you to a party - a Rock Candy Funk Party, hosted by Joe Bonamassa and Ron De­Je­sus of RCFP fame.

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Wheaty looks at the Rock Candy Funk Party blues of Joe Bonamassa and Ron De­Je­sus.

I’m cer­taIn that reg­u­lar reader to this mag­a­zine will be fa­mil­iar with the re­mark­able tal­ents of Joe Bonamassa. You’ll know all about his con­sid­er­able com­mand of the blues and sig­nif­i­cant port­fo­lio of al­bum re­leases show­cas­ing this style. You’ll know about his pro­lific song­writ­ing prow­ess and his dy­namic and bold vo­cal de­liv­ery and im­pres­sive skills as a front man. You may even be ac­quainted with his con­sum­mate work as rock gui­tarist and one third of the su­per-group Black Coun­try com­mu­nion, along­side bassist Glenn hughes and drum­mer Ja­son Bon­ham. Well, now Joe can add 1970s in­stru­men­tal jazz-funk fu­sion to the list, due to his re­cent flurry of ac­tiv­ity with the col­lec­tive known as rock candy Funk Party.

Ini­tially formed back in 2007 by gui­tarist ron De­Je­sus and cur­rent Bonamassa sticks man tal Bergman, rock candy Funk Party’s mis­sion state­ment was to cre­ate an in­stru­men­tal jam band with the em­pha­sis on groove-based orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions stylis­ti­cally in­flu­enced by clas­sic ‘70s artists such as Weather Re­port, Par­lia­ment, Her­bie han­cock’s head­hunters, the av­er­age White Band and many more. after a num­ber of per­for­mances at Hol­ly­wood’s Baked Potato the band ce­mented its line-up, in­clud­ing Joe on sec­ond lead gui­tar, mike mer­ritt on bass, key­boardist re­nato neto and en­tered the record­ing stu­dio.

With mu­sic of this na­ture, the chem­istry be­tween each of the mu­si­cians is cru­cial. each RCFP mem­ber ex­pertly holds up his end, with fan­tas­tic sup­port­ive play­ing all-round and some won­der­fully ex­pres­sive, mu­si­cally com­pelling and never gra­tu­itously overly tech­ni­cal for the sake of it solo­ing. For me the real sur­prise was Ron De­Je­sus. Ron’s play­ing ab­so­lutely knocked me out, with great sense of groove, fan­tas­tic tone and phras­ing that is at timed slick and so­phis­ti­cated that can switch in an in­stant to raw and bru­tal.

There are two 16-bar so­los for you this month, the first de­rived from Joe’s neck pickup Les Paul solo ex­plo­rations, while the sec­ond con­cen­trates on Ron’s snappy, fiery but hip and so­phis­ti­cated Strat. The pro­gres­sion moves be­tween E9 and C7#9, so while there are common notes that bind them, you need to an­tic­i­pate the changes and mod­ify your melodic selections ac­cord­ingly.

as usual, I’d urge you to check out the band’s mu­sic di­rectly, par­tic­u­larly the live record­ing, as con­text is ev­ery­thing when you con­sider your phras­ing, rhyth­mic choices and dy­namic in­ten­sity when ap­proach­ing im­pro­vis­ing such po­ten­tially long so­los. It’s not un­com­mon in this style for so­los to last sev­eral min­utes, so pac­ing and build­ing are cru­cial fac­tors to keep in mind.

A good point to con­sider is this: how do you know your solo is com­ing to an end? For some the an­swer is that it’s when they be­gin to run out of ideas, leav­ing on a low point and not a par­tic­u­larly good idea from the per­spec­tive of leav­ing a last­ing im­pres­sion. The good improvisers, in­clud­ing both Joe and Ron nat­u­rally, most of­ten have a def­i­nite end point in mind and spend the con­clu­sion of their solo lead­ing up to this point, re­sult­ing in a nat­u­ral sense of con­clu­sion, res­o­lu­tion and con­trib­utes to a much stronger mu­si­cal state­ment. as al­ways, en­joy…

I was play­ing over adult chords, you know, where you ac­tu­ally have to know the next change. Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa with gor­geous vin­tage Les Paul

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