Dennis Coffey & Friends

Event Rescheduled: Rescheduled for Sunday 9/11/11

Dennis Coffey & Friends


Thu, June 2, 2011

8:00 pm



This event is all ages

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Dennis Coffey & Friends
Dennis Coffey & Friends
Dennis Coffey is an American original. Only in America (and specifically, only in Detroit) could one man play guitar with a group of legends as diverse as Del Shannon, The Temptations, and George Clinton and Funkadelic. However, the list of iconic artists, producers and writers Dennis has worked with the world over only scratches the surface of what the man has done and the contributions he's made to the canon of popular music.

Dennis Coffey first began to make his mark as a member of The Royaltones, a group which had hits in the late 50's and early 60's and who performed sessions with other artists, including Del Shannon. From there, Dennis moved on to a distinguished run as a session guitarist for various labels operating at the peak of Detroit's influence as a hub of musical innovation and commercial success. He's perhaps best known for his work as a member of the legendary Funk Brothers, backing a veritable trunk load of hits for Motown, specifically The Temptations' classics "Cloud Nine," "Ball Of Confusion," and "Just My Imagination." It is in those works that his introduction of the wah-wah guitar sound to Motown (and soul / R&B in general) first reared its head, and the resulting influence on all kinds of popular music continues to reverberate to this day. His work with The Temptations is just the tip of the iceberg, though... he's on stuff like "War" by Edwin Starr... "Band Of Gold" by Freda Payne...on and on the list goes.

In the early 70's, Dennis struck out on his own as an artist, film scorer and producer. He scored the cult classic film Black Belt Jones. He recorded "Scorpio" in 1971 as part of his second solo record and first for Sussex ("Evolution"). "Scorpio" was a million selling single and was a key foundational track in the history and development of hip-hop, totally apart from its status as a funk classic. Dennis has recorded several other solo records, and he has co-produced a million seller in Gallery's Nice To Be With You as well as cult record Cold Fact by Rodriguez, a release that has gained increasing notoriety over the decades since it initially appeared, and which is now regarded as a rediscovered gem. He also continued session guitar work through the 1970's, appearing on such disco classics as "Boogie Fever" by the Sylvers.

Dennis is also featured in the 2002 film Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, further cementing his legacy as a key contributor to the development of some of the most cherished and important popular music of the 20th Century.

So, yeah... the man's important. This isn't just a history lesson, though. Dennis has continued to write and perform music. He's a lifer. Now, it's time for a new chapter. An opportunity to both remind music fans of what he's done and show them what's to come.
“Sock it to ‘em Dr. Tackett!” Mixmaster Wolf exclaims in the opening track of Breakestra’s Live Mixtape Part One. Dr. Tackett is the musical golden child Miles Tackett and he plays some sick bass. Mixmaster Wolf sings and fronts the eight piece funk band Breakestra. The Los Angeles based ensemble is based in deep funk, soul, jazz fever and musical friendships. A Breakestra show is about dancing and swinging — eight men on stage getting loose, playing serious grooves. Think James Brown. Watching the Breakestra live is a tour de force. As Miles says, “What are the first three letters of FUNK?”

The Breakestra began as the house band for the legendary club called the Breaks. Egon from Stonesthrow Records further explains the etymology of their name: “Break. As in “breakbeat.” That ten second slice of percussive magic in the middle of a funk song that, when looped together by progressive South Bronx DJs in the 1970s, became the basis of the hip-hop movement. Arkestra. Out-there jazzer Sun Ra’s funkafied concept of the stuffy classical orchestra.” When we combine the two concepts, you have the Breakestra or in other words an orchestra that plays breaks. Back in 1999, Stonesthrow first introduced the world to the Breakestra with a few 12” releases and soon after the full-length album Live Mixtape Part Two.

“The Breakestra should become a class or a 4-year graduate program for funk musicians. Playing with the Breakestra is a great way to get a degree in funk,” says former longtime keyboardist Carlos Guaico. Indeed it is a way to get your degree in funk because the Breakestra have played an A to Z of funk classics. James Brown, Jimmy Smith, all the way to the endless breaks sampled by Gangstarr and A Tribe Called Quest. The Breakestra have played so many covers of the aforementioned grooves that the only way a musician could be in the group is if they really knew how to play.

If we were to construct a family tree of LA bands, Breakestra would be mentioned in the same breath as Weapon of Choice, Fishbone, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Mesh of Mind and Ozomatli. These bands began in backyard jam sessions and random open mics held throughout the city from Echo Park to Venice, Highland Park to Topanga Canyon. Those early days were just after the ’92 Riots. Musicians from all over the city became tighter and many experimental jam sessions occurred fusing genres like funk, hip-hop, rock and acoustic soul resulting in truly innovative, multiculturaL music. Musical friendships between cats like Miles, Mixmaster Wolf, Cut Chemist, Peaunut Butter Wolf, Carlos Guaico and many others became the seeds for landmark clubs and two indie record labels that still flourish to this day. Original members of the Breakestra have gone on to either play or write songs for/with the Black Eyed Peas, Macy Gray, The Rebirth, Dakah, the list goes on.

Miles’ inspiration to form the Breakestra began when he fell in love with hip-hop after hearing groups like the Jungle Brothers and historic records like the Ultramagnetic MC’s’ Critical Beatdown in the late 1980s - the era in which tons of dusty drum breaks and funky samples first saw the light of day. These samples hit closer to home for Miles because his father Freddie Tackett is in the seminal band Little Feat and wrote the song “Fool Yourself.” This epic song was later drum sampled by A Tribe called Quest for their “Bonita Applebaum” (though Miles claims he sampled it first). Funk is in his blood. For Miles the hip-hop of the late ‘80’s is sacred. He adds, “Like all longtime Angelino hip-hop lovers, I heard these records on KDAY.” As a lifelong musician, Miles was never the same.

Miles greatly enjoyed watching dj’s like Cut Chemist and Mixmaster Wolf mix breaks from rare funk and soul records so he got the idea to create a live band that could simulate the blending of breaks only with live music rather than mixing on turntables. Somewhere around 1996 Miles organized weekly jams at a local coffeehouse called The Breaks and it quickly caught on. Not only was it live players, but there were dj’s, beatboxers, breakdancers and emcees. These jam sessions with his favorite players spawned the Breakestra. Noted singer-songwriter Damon Aaron was the original guitarist that night. Josh Cohen brought the drum kit.

Through the course of their nearly decade-long existence the only two members that have remained constant are bassist/guitarist/upright cellist/producer/vocalist Miles Tackett and vocalist Mixmaster Wolf. When asked about the rotating members of the band, Miles responds, “The Breakestra has always been an amorphous project.” Critical players over the years include: Josh “Wallet” Cohen on drums, Geoff “Double G” Gallegos on sax and flute, Todd Simon and Paul Vargas on trumpet, Dan Osterman on trombone, Carlos Guaico on keys, Davy Chegwidden on percussion, Dan Ubick on guitar, Soulsister Demya and Mixmaster Wolf on vocals as well as Tackett himself.

The many musicians that have comprised the Breakestra over the last 10 years comprise a who’s who of L.A.’s funk/soul/hip-hop underground. It’s no surprise that many of the Breakestra’s original players have started their own projects such as Carlos Guaico with The Rebirth and Geoff “Double G” Gallegos with Dakah. Former guitarist Dan Ubick now leads funk sensation Connie Price and the Keystones.

The current Breakestra line-up as told by Miles Tackett, lead bassist/cellist & vocalist includes:

Mix Master Wolf - soul shoutin’ and sangin”
Pat “The Snake” Bailey - guitar (also the guitarist for The Rebirth)
Shawn O’Shandy - drums (from Plant Life and Orgone)
Dan Hastie - Fender Rhodes & Organ (also from Plant Life and Orgone)
Greg Velasquez, or Chuck Prada - Percussion
James “The Penguin” King - Saxophones & flutes (Dakah, The Keystones)
Devin Williams, or Todd Simon - Trumpet

Over the years, The Breaks evolved into the Thursday night extravaganza called the Root Down, in reverence to organist Jimmy Smith’s classic. Miles and The Breakestra perform regularly to capacity crowds along side luminaries such as Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Black Eyed Peas, Freestyle Fellowship, CrownCity rockers, Visionaries, Cut Chemist, Nu-Mark and DJ Shadow. Meanwhile Miles has transformed from a hip hop fan into a respected hip hop producer. His production credits include T-Love’s acclaimed “Return of the B-girl” EP, tracks for Cut Chemist and Rakka of Dilated Peoples, songs for Macy Gray’s debut LP and his now legendary remake of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” on the Ubiquity Rewind Series.

Miles has also become quite a dj. “I’ve been around so many Dj’s over the years that inevitably the spirit rubbed off on me.” He’s been djing now for five years. “Djing is an addictive hobby, I’m in a 12” step program.” His mix cd “Funky Sole Vol. 1” has become a favorite in indie record stores coast-to-coast where it quickly sold out. DJ Jeremy Sole describes it:” This continuous set of heavy-footed funk breaks is seamlessly executed, showing his understated smoothness on the tables. The overall arrangement of the CD unfurls with the stamina of James Brown’s “Live at the Apollo”, and is testament of Miles’ undying love for a groove. He could easily have gone for the rarer-then-thou selections throughout, but instead Miles runs the gamut from the funk aficionado’s most coveted artists like Eugene Blacknell and Third Guitar, to sure shots like The Meters, Steely Dan and the godfather himself. Of the 49 bumpin’ tracks, there’s even slices of Jamaican funk and moments when our man finds the common shuffle between Jimi’s “Still Raining, Still Dreaming” and the JB’s “Doin’ it to Death”.
The Breakestra move with the same fluid spirit of Miles mix CD. Through the course of their hour long sets, they never stop playing. They employ funky transitions and what Miles calls “arrangement experimentation.” Miles continues, “DJing has a tremendous influence on the breaks and transitions of the Breakestra.” Mixmaster Wolf says on their first recording, “Here’s a live mix tape, you don’t need a cassette.”
After years of doing immaculate funk and hip-hop covers, they are releasing an album of original songs on Ubiquity Recordings in summer 2005. The lead 12” single, “Don’t Need a Dance,” has already been repressed three times. Live shows in the UK and across the country have the boys sharp. After years of playing in intimate venues they are getting so explosive that it is clear bigger stages are the next phase for the Breakestra. Last summer, they opened up for De La Soul in Central Park. At the recent Root Down 7 year Anniversary party they rocked the house. Over 800 people were all smiles, sweating on the funk train. A few weeks later the boys put it down big @ the LA County Natural History Museum. These underground legends have followed the example set by their heroes and now carry on the legacy with the same momentum as the funk they play.
Venue Information:
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069

All lineups and times subject to change