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