The Ill Funk Ensemble: Soul For The Masses
Walking on sticky floors, stepping on to a stage that's too small for their swagger, let alone their equipment, setting up under dim lights and dropping a sound check on an unsuspecting audience. Eyes look up, jaws drop and the phones come out, inevitably texting their friends to come check out this band, this is Ill Funk. Jermaine Wells and BJ Fitzgerald own the main vocals, while Dennie Brooks handles the beats of the drums. Duane Etienne provides the base while Joe Stoner strokes the ivories of the keyboard.
That scene has played out weekly for the Albany-based band, The Ill Funk Ensemble, since 2006 to great results. Described by reviewers as "a kind of 21st century mash-up of Kool & the Gang and the Isley Brothers" and "all hot sand and asphalt", Ill Funk takes hip-hop and R&B in a different, yet oddly familiar direction. Perhaps it's the blend of old and new school vibes, the warm smile of Jermaine Wells, the lead singer, or the obvious fun the band has whether they're recording or performing live; whatever it is, the band has made the most of its position by performing all over the Northeast, selling nearly 1,000 hard copies of their debut album, Catching Wreck, having more than 1,300 combined likes on their Facebook pages and over 15,000 views on their YouTube channel. They've even been blessed to perform live with Grammy-winner Mr. Cheeks of the Lost Boyz, Naughty by Nature and Young MC and placed forth in a national competition to perform at Royal Family Affair with Soulive in 2011. They have also had a placement on the show "Road Trip Nation" and honorable mention in the John Lennon song-writing competition.
Slick, smart, engaging and legit, The Ill Funk Ensemble is humble in its origins, ambitious in its goals and will be releasing their second album in Summer of 2012.Continued on the next page