The White Blinds formed in December 2015 and started started doing a monthly at a small Cuban restaurant called Mambos Cafe in Glendale CA, owned by a friend Michael Duffy, the band’s drummer. According to Duffy, “We started with a slew of covers until we found our sound as a trio. From the monthly we started to play around LA, SF and San Diego, opening for bands like Jungle Fire, Sure Fire Soul Ensemble and Matador Soul Sounds.
He continued, “In February of 2018 we walked into Rich Uncle Studios in Venice CA and recorded “Get To Steppin” all live on the floor no click, no headphones and no overdubs. We went straight to tape for that old school sound.” Very cool and they’ve been rewarded by being been featured on some top records lists of 2018 including The Nostalgia King and Flea Market Funk.
Emerging from the tight-knit Los Angeles Funk and Soul community, The White Blinds are one of the newest true Organ Trios to carry the torch of instrumental music in the city of Angels. The White Blinds pay homage to the classic soul jazz sound of the 60’s and 70’s with a splash of New Orleans groove and Afro-Funk overtones. For lovers of Dr. Lonnie Smith, Charles Earland, and The City Champs, this trio led by drummer and percussionist Michael Duffy (Jungle Fire, Ozomatli), with Organist Carey Frank (Tedeschi Trucks), and Guitarist Matt Hornbeck, have come together to form a tight and soulful ensemble, filtered though the lens that is uniquely Los Angeles. Their forthcoming debut LP “Get To Steppin” is out now on Southern California’s premier Soul, Jazz, and Funk vinyl record label, F-Spot Records. The album features ten songs consisting of nine originals and one take on the classic tune “Blue Juice” by Jimmy McGriff.
Here’s our take on this recently released (September 2018) album from this band comprised of some heavyweight industry veterans –
- Chico: This tune leads off and one immediately gets the sense that this could be a New Mastersounds tune, but there’s only three players – where’s the bass? Take a look at the video and it’s way cool that Carey Frank is hitting those bass pedals hard bringing that low end. Excellent bridge guitar work by Matt Hornbeck immediately puts you on notice that this is a well oiled threesome.
- Hip Hugger: Very cool tune here with excellent groovin’ organ with that syrupy, slidy type of vibe makes you feel like you’re just skimming on top of waves of sound. Excellent low end work on the refrain. Beautiful and not to be confused with a tune with the same name by Booker T and the MGs.
- A Walk Through Echo Park: Echo Park used to be a gang area in Central Los Angeles but is now a hip neighborhood with a lot of nightlife and cool places. The tune starts off with some cool guitar and drum work that makes you feel like you’re skulking around looking around corners but one can just imagine that it’s all cool. There’s some kind of abstract keys work in the middle that makes it sound like a little conversation. A short drum solo bridge is followed by some uplifting guitar-organ work sounding a little bluesy and gospel-like. The closeout with the drums definitely feels like a heartbeat – one of my favorite tunes on the album. That was my original take on the song and here’s the real scoop directly from The White Blinds – “A Walk Through Echo Park is a musical representation of walking on Glendale Blvd in Echo Park, which cuts right through the middle of the city from the 2 Freeway to US 101 and into Downtown LA. Its a funky neighborhood when you get to the first break and Carey is running across the keys it’s simulating the sounds of rats running around under the Sunset Street bridge, when it changes and becomes less funky it’s giving you the experience of walking up on Echo Park Lake the jewel of the park and then when it gets back to funky it’s us walking under US 101 and walking into downtown LA. Even in our shows, this one comes with a little story.” So thanks for that graphic description!
- The Hustler: The drum-guitar combo just lays down a nice head for the organ work to glide into some very chill organ work by Carey. When the guitar comes back in for the refrain it’s almost island like and then segues into a nice solo by Matt. Just love the bass pedal work leading to the short stop finish.
- Little Giant: Nice bass intro sounds almost like a train coming down the tracks and nice stop-start action with guitar and organ coming in and out. Excellent guitar-organ tandem playing on this tune and a nice fade out.
- Blinded: Terrific bass pedal work by Carey on this tune and an overall solid groove. This tune gives the feeling of cruising in the city on the way to a party and features a nice segue to a drum closeout by Michael.
- Get to Steppin’: This very uptempo tune, is perhaps the one that’s most reminiscent of The New Mastersounds – great guitar intro by Matt and some heavy organ that makes me recall some great work by Robert Walters. The guitar head throughout makes this tune a highlight and totally appropriate for the album title.
- Cold Heat: This one is a burner from start to finish and Carey really shines on his solo mid way through. Also features an excellent guitar solo closeout by Matt.
- The Doc: This one is one of the slower tempo tunes but also a favorite with some very measured steps and beats with organ/drum as the intro. Bluesy guitar solo midway through makes this tune very chill.
- Blue Juice: This tune’s opening guitar lick straight up reminds me of a Crusaders’ tune from the 70s/80s especially when they did a number of dates and recordings with B.B. King. Of course, as stated in the intro, this one is a cover of Jimmy McGriff. Some nice bluesy guitar work from Matt as to be expected. Overall a nice way to close out the album.
For more info on this album or The White Blinds click here. Since the record dropped in September of 2018th the band has been playing out more and will being do more dates in 2019. First up is the Do It Ourselves Fest in Santa Cruz, opening for The Mattson 2 in April. They also plan to do a monthly at The famous Boom Boom Room in San Francisco. Beyond this The White Blinds have three 45’s slated for release over 2019 in a series they are calling their Homage set. Duffy says “Each “A” side will pay tribute to one of our influences and the B will be new original music. First one to drop is in May on LA own F-Spot Records.” FunkCity.net looks forward to hearing each release!
Michael Duffy, drums (Jungle Fire, Ozomatli)
Matt Hornbeck, guitar
Carey Frank, Hammond organ (Tedeschi Trucks)