Folkenphunk is, by now, a familiar sight and sound to acoustic music aficionados in the eastern third of the USA. The band has developed a devoted following the old-fashioned way, namely writing great songs and touring like crazy. The Folkenphunk guys have been working hard in the recording studio, too, tracking for an as-yet-untitled new album that is already showing a lot of promise. The sound is still the group’s winning mix of bluegrass, American and Irish folk, blues, psychedelic rock, and modern pop and rock, which keeps its appeal wide enough to ensnare listeners who might not be full-on bluegrass people while still doing enough picking and singing to entertain those who are. Three songs have been recorded so far and a Kickstarter campaign will be launched to help complete the project.
The three tracks in the can so far are “No Brakes,” “Old Man Joe,” and “Time On My Hands.” All are group originals and have been well-received by audiences at Folkenphunk’s many gigs in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, and New York City. All three strike a perfect balance between vocal hooks and instrumental prowess and it is hoped that a full record of this kind of material will do much to bring Folkenphunk to a larger audience. Core band members are mandolinist Edwin Lightner, guitarist Lowell Neumann Nickey, and bassist Dave Brumberg but the group also augments its sound with Chris Blauciak on percussion and Russ Gottlieb on banjo, which only adds to the fun.
Folkenphunk is already booking tours for 2019 and expects this new music to help make it a busy year. Festival talent buyers should find this bunch pretty attractive and the band aims to play a slew of new events in the coming year, as well as becoming better acquainted with the folks at the IBMAs and at Bluegrass Today. Folkenphunk is one of America’s most vital emerging musical acts, one with huge crossover potential backed up with old-school skills and songs. If you’re not already listening, you should be.
–Review by Mike O’Cull, independent music journalist. www.mikeocull.com