Review by Jason Gershuny
Photos by Marshall Snyder
Brooklyn’s natives The Pimps of Joytime brought their Janxta funky music to Portland’s Mississippi Studios on Friday, Feburary 21. Their power-packed performance gave the raucous audience a chance to shake it hard to their soulful grooves. The venue may have been packed wall-to-wall with hot and sweaty bodies, but that didn’t dampen spirits on this night.
For those who haven’t seen the Pimps before, imagine a sound that combines a balanced blend of old school soul, thick dirty funk, shredding guitar licks, polyrhythmic percussive grooves, vocal harmonies, and just a dash of keyboard samples. That combination of musical flavors creates the perfect recipe for a dance party.
The Pimps headlined the night and created an inspired set of music that did a masterful job of mixing their classic show stopping tunes like “Janksta Funk,” “Freedom Dancer,” “My Gold,” “Keep that Music Playin’,” and “San Francisco Bound” with some samples of newer material. This evening’s performance demonstrated the ever-growing evolution of their sound, and confirmed the notion that they are still a band on the creative rise.
Over the course of an amazing night of music, two aspects stood out regarding of the growth and direction of the Pimps of Joytime. The first aspect is this band’s commitment to the Northwest. I have struggled to think of any another east coast band that gives the Pacific Northwest love more often than the Pimps. They come our way two to three times a year without fail, and they have built their Northwest fan base the old fashioned way: by throwing funk parties that create legitimate grassroots momentum. It is hard to not have a deep appreciation for bands that are willing to repeatedly travel thousands of miles, even in the winter months, to make it to our neck of the woods.
The second aspect of the show that stood out is the solidified and connected lineup the Pimps have developed over the course of the last two years. Brian Jay has been the soulful visionary behind the band, mixing and matching musicians like a mad scientist, always looking to create a musical potion that gets the groove just right. Mayteana Morales joined the band nearly 6 years ago and has made her vocal and percussive prowess an essential layer at the heart of the Pimps music. But other than the two of them, the rest of the band’s members had been in an unsteady rotation for a few years.
Over the last two years, however, the lineup has really solidified, and the payoff is evident. Cole Williams adds so much power and emotion behind her vocals and Percussion. David Bailies, who is a magician on both bass and sampler, lays both sounds and grooves that can take songs in any direction, and John Staten, who is a fierce rhythmic machine on the drums. Together, these five artists lock in as a musical unit. The stability within the band has paid off in the richness of the new material as well as the revitalization and exploration within the context of the older songs.
The opening set from Myron and E. was a fun surprise and had the audience moving along with their soulful sound as the two front men serenaded the crowd with both humor with songs like “Pot Club,” as well as with heart and passion with “If I Gave You My Love.” They even joined with the rest of the audience during the Pimps set to boogie along with the rest of us.
Anyone who loves a funky dance party should make sure to save some space on their dance card for the Pimps of Joytime. The musical cohesion between the members is at an all time high. They are unveiling new music, highlighting their own musical evolution, and zig-zagging across the nation to bring their unique sound to a town near you.