Mary Corso at lead vocals Photo by Michael Hallisey/TheSpot518
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ALBANY — It was a chill evening for a school night as the Parish Public House prepared to host NYS Music’s presentation of Funk Night on Thursday, April 5.
The headliner was a mash up of local artists from Turkuaz, Kung Fu, the Eric Krasno Band and Wurliday.
The laid back atmosphere was accentuated by the devil may care approach to the start. Only the instruments stood on stage once the clock struck nine. Each of the musicians were chatting it up at the bar with patrons and fans. No one seemed to notice or care what time it was. The music was going to be what it was going to be, and those in the house were okay with that.
The collection of artists were fronted by Wurliday guitarist Justin Henricks and Kung Fu keyboardist Beau Sasser. Neither of the two are strangers to one another. In fact, most of the night’s lineup has been associated with Henrick’s Wurliday over the past year. Sasser played organ on a couple of tracks in the band’s debut release “Bedtime Blazer” last May. The two go back even further, as Henricks played guitar for Sasser’s Escape Plan before deciding to branch off to launch Wurliday.
The evening started off with two instrumental jams also featuring Reed Sutherland on bass, Turkuaz’s Mikey Carruba on drums and John Drabik on guitar. But, the modest lighting at the Parish Public House wasn’t able to adequately shine the line on all the talent. The spotlight shined mostly on Henricks and Sasser before Mary Corso took to the stage.
Corso, too, is no stranger to Wurliday. She’s lent her booming take-me-to-church gospel voice to the band over the past several months. She exhibited that voice singing a few Motown covers. She tied the bow on the whole Wurliday package as the troupe busted into “Getting There” and “Once More” off of “Bedtime Blazer.” Corso is now moving on to pursue other projects. Last month, she announced a duo project with Dan Mayer. The two are currently touring together.
The group stretched out two sets throughout the night, playing a dazzling array of funk music to satisfy a sizable crowd that was enough to fill out the back room of the Parish Public House. Sasser was electrifying on the organ, and the improvisational work throughout the group got people grooving and dancing before the stage. Drabik, who impressed a GE Theatre crowd while playing with the Bryan Brundige Collective at Capital Records last month, continued to amaze an audience with his guitar work from the shadows.
From the back of the room, a member of the crowd took care while taking the show poster down from the wall. He rhetorically asked, “Where were you tonight?” before stuffing the poster in his back pocket.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.