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Review of Funk Yard by

Funk Yard
Joe Krown Organ Combo
(STR Digital Records)

From the Crescent City of New Orleans comes Joe Krown and his Organ Combo. For you lovers of the sound of the Hammond organ being played in the tradition of Groove Holmes, Jimmy Smith, and Brother Jack McDuff, this is one CD you need to get. Joe Krown made his way to New Orleans in the early 1990's from the northeast of America and soon hooked up with Gatemouth Brown and became his keyboardist for the next ten years or so. Along the way Joe has put together various side bands and has performed with musicians from Chuck Berry to John Lee Hooker to Vassar Clements. In 1998 he put together the Organ Combo and on their third CD, "Funk Yard", they lay down some impressive grooves.

The Organ Combo is rounded out with Bob Sunda on bass, who has performed with people like Elvin Bishop and Charlie Byrd, John Fohl on guitar, Mike Barras on drums, Micheal Skinkus on percussion, Jim Markway on 5-string bass, and Brent Rose on sax, who has played with Galactic, Charlie Hunter, as well as Gatemouth Brown. "Funk Yard" begins with the Joe Krown penned title cut and it gives the CD an instant salsa/funk start. I will probably use the word 'groove' a lot in this review as that is what this outfit is going for, a journey through the sounds and capabilities of the Hammond organ. In this case Joe is playing a Hammond A-100 instead of the B-3 that he sometimes rolls out. The thing to do with this CD is play it on a system that sounds real good and can carry the bass to places deep and unknown. "Funky JK" keeps the groove going on yet another of the many 4-minute plus tunes found here. All but two of the eleven songs on this effort were written by Joe and/or someone in the band.

Cut 5 is one that will crack up your friends old enough to remember some of the goofier songs to come out of the 1960's. The tune starts off sounding like an early Allman Brothers take but soon falls into the melody of the Bobby Gentry song, "Ode To Billy Joe". Oddly enough the song works as there are no vocals to distract you on this all instrumental CD. Because of that it is fun to sit back and watch the look on people's faces as they try to identify the "Billy Joe" melody amidst the funk base without any words to give it away. "Bafoozled" and "Chicken Legs" are two slow to mid-tempo burns that flow right along. These grooves are well constructed and have got plenty of bottom. But if I had to make one criticism of the CD it would be that the band doesn't cut loose enough. The Combo needs to go nuts and slap the crap out of keys and frets every once in a while, get a little crazy with it. Get stupid! Flail!

"The Wiggle" and "Badville" are Joe's tributes to the 1960's modern jazz sounds of his organ-playing predecessors. I can only hope that this fine CD tweaks your interest and sends you back to look up the past works of rocking organist's like Groove Holmes and Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff. You will not be disappointed. Joe Krown has updated the sound in fine fashion here though. On the cut "The Swing" the Combo does just that. It is a full-blown jazz swing stomp. And yes, Joe does let go and go a little crazy on the Hammond A-100. The rest of the band does a good job as well. John Fohl throws down a good solo while Bob Sundra plays a mean 5 string electric bass. He has got the bottom covered.

"Funk Yard" is a fun and, yes, groovin' CD. If you find yourself in New Orleans be sure and check the listings to see if these cats are playing somewhere. If Gatemouth Brown is in your town Joe Krown probably will be playing with him. Either way make sure you stand by the sound guy in the back and see to it that he has the volume turned up! This is yet another CD that is not on a major label, but don't let that stop you. Grab a groove that your buddy does not have. More information on finding the CD can be found at and

- Derek Halsey

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