It was a quiet scene when I arrived at the SeaMonster last night for funk group the McTuff Trio's weekly Tuesday-night session. The band was setting up long past their slated set time of 10 p.m. (most of that was because frontman and Hammond organist Joe Doria was assembling his oversized instrument and chatting with a handful of inquiring attendees), and a grim few lounged on couches scattered throughout the narrow space. By the time Doria started the set just before 11 p.m., the vibe had changed completely and a sizable crowd had filled the back room.
The true measure of success for a live funk band is not only that they jam effortlessly and read each other well; they also need an audience who feels the music and grooves instinctively. Doria and his veteran crew (longtime McTuff band members Andy Coe on guitar and D'vonne Lewis on drums) seemed familiar with the formula, and the trio's sharp fusion of jazz and funk and Doria's warm, reverberating Hammond organ had the floor from the first note. The crowd was grooving, bootys were being slapped, and everyone was feeling it.
We've been saying it a lot lately: For live music in Seattle, you can't beat the cross-section of talent that Tuesday nights offer. The McTuff sessions at the SeaMonster are another example. Doria's organ must have weighed a ton, and you just don't see that type of equipment getting lugged around every day--most bands opt for a more portable Rhodes or synthesizer these days. But McTuff is the real deal, with a soulful fidelity that demands the real thing (McTuff being a nod to Jack McDuff, another jazz organist), and you can get it for free every Tuesday at the SeaMonster.
You know it's a small venue when: the keyboardist's stool doubles as a cocktail table (until politely requested--and then removed).
The Scene: Wildly eclectic: crazy hairdos on the men and some formal wear on the ladies; a casual medium somewhere between prom gowns and Crocs.