"I think they're one of the best jam bands in town," comments a patchwork-clad lass at the King Club last Tuesday. Out of the darkness, another, higher pitched voice declares, "They're not a jam band!," with the disdain of someone who's heard it straight from the group.
Indeed. While the four-piece group Chafo consists of the traditional drums, keys, bass and guitar set-up and incorporates many elements that listeners might easily recognize as jam-esque, that's not the limit of its sound. There's an overriding funk element here, a jazz-inspired cut time signature there and then a keyboard riff that is distinctively calypso.
"I don't really think we sound like anybody in town to be honest, and we're a little more punctual than many of the jam bands out there," says drummer Hugo Reynolds. "We like leaving people wanting more rather than giving them more than they want. But we're going to get associated with jam bands, because we're a bunch of white kids from the Midwest who like to play funky jazzy music. We just think of ourselves as a funk band."
With a respectable repertoire of original instrumental pieces and a splattering of covers by such greats as Herbie Hancock and The Meters, the funky label feels right.
Only playing a handful of shows in Madison so far, Chafo drew plenty of fans last Tuesday night. The show started with performances by Ra Fury with DJ AV and jam regulars Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank, a folkie-Americana band from northern Minnesota. The group is also celebrating the release of their debut EP, a five-song disc recorded and mixed by Madison sound engineer Andrew LaValley of Bear Sound. Next month brings Chafo and Ra Fury to Café Montmartre, where they will be headlining a benefit concert for local environmental groups on Monday, Dec. 17.