Avon: Funky jam-band Harmonious Junk performs
Avon CO, Colorado
AVON, Colorado ” Damon Wood, one time guitar player for James Brown’s band, no longer has to stick to someone else’s set list or play the same songs over and over again to please the crowd. He formed his own band, Harmonious Junk, about six years ago. But that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten about his days with Brown. He said he learned a lot on the road with The Godfather of Soul and uses much of it to lead his band.
Harmonious Junk is a lot of things ” soul, funk, rock, blues, jazz ” but it can’t be called boring. As far as jam bands go, it can hold its own. They’ve released two albums ” “Space Cadet” and their latest, “Too Cocky In Nagasaki” ” with plans for a third in the works.
The Denver-based band comes to Avon for a free show at Finnegan’s Wake tonight. Wood talked to us from his home in Denver about the freedom of having his own band and the effect James Brown has had on his music.
1. Vail Daily: After having played for James Brown and various other bands during your career, what is it like doing your own thing now?
Damon Wood: There’s a lot more freedom when you get to do your own thing. It seems like you develop better and at a more rapid pace. My band will go through all kinds of changes all the time because it’s just three or four or five of us. It’s not like the same show. With the James Brown show people are expecting all these hits … We’re fortunate ” I guess unfortunate really ” to not have any hit singles so nobody expects some song from us so we can do whatever we want.
2. VD: How has working for Brown and getting to study him on stage influenced the way you perform?
DW: I think I learned a lot of good band leader things from him. Say you’re leading the band, you have to be listening all the time, making sure everybody’s playing the song right, making sure everybody’s heads are together. You got to keep eye contact with the band so that you can make quick cues and go to different places and I learned a lot of that from him. He was like a master at that.
3. VD: When you first formed this band did you have a clear vision of what you wanted to accomplish?
DW: I don’t know if anybody really knows what their end goal is when they start something, but I knew what I wanted to use it to help me for. I wanted to use it as an avenue to keep soloing and keep playing over different progressions and over the years I started singing, so that’s been a nice platform for me to develop the vocal thing, which I didn’t have eight years ago before I started this band.
4. VD: How do you guys write songs?
DW: Basically I’ve been the leader of this band and a lot of people have come and gone so from the first album to the second album there’s really none of the same people. So these songs are basically all my songs. I’ve written all these songs.
5. VD: Your last album, “Too Cocky In Nagasaki,” was named after a song on the album. Why did you pick that song when you had options like “Zombified” and “Galactic Glove” to choose from?
DW: That was tough. “Too Cocky In Nagasaki” is just kind of a spoof of rappers and rap-rock kind of stuff. A tongue-in-cheek, Zapa-esque sort of joke. People seemed to think that was catchier than anything else.
6. VD: Was there a particular album or song that made you want to play guitar?
DW: I had a buddy growing up at about 14 who started playing guitar and in about a year he was playing all kinds of really cool stuff so I was very intrigued by that and I kind of thought “wow, if I could get half as good as him in a couple years, that would be pretty awesome.” So he lent me and my neighbor friend a guitar and showed us some stuff, so it was mostly through our friend.
7. VD: What is your live show like?
DW: We try to keep it heavily danceable, party, fun stuff. We also don’t like to play songs that people have heard a million times on the radio. In Colorado you got such music fans that we can play some obscure things that some place else nobody would know and like half the bar knows that song here … We got some new covers we’re looking to try this week and some originals.
High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Harmonious Junk.
When: Friday at 9 p.m.
Where: Finnegan’s Wake in Avon.
More information: Call 970-748-4610 or visit http://www.finneganswakeavon.com.