Funky Dance opens with local cover band VO5

Stuart Benjamin, Arts Editor

On the evening of Jan. 16, a musical gathering of young and old rocked the Monona Terrace with the music of James Brown, ABBA, and the O’Jays.  Local cover band, VO5, filled the dance floor with a warm feeling of peace and love as they recreated an era that brought a whole new meaning to the word “funk.”

The dancing, wigs, and parachute pants were nothing short of cheesy, but no shame was felt, as the Funky Dance Madison concert began to fill with eager listeners who had only one desire: to “get down on it.” The love was felt all around from the kids as young as five to the adults as old as 75 once the family friendly funk band took the stage.  Their presence had a major effect on the vibe, as all of its members took part in the groovy movement that one cannot help but feel while playing this soulful music. The band, a ten-piece ensemble, offered a variety of musical talents; they featured two percussionists, saxophone, trumpets, keyboards, and a plethora of vocal cooperation.

It wasn’t hard to tell that this group had a huge focus on synchronicity between the different instrument sections, especially having a drum set and miscellaneous percussionist, which can further complicate harmonies throughout.  They seemed to have a difficulty with their crescendos, but what they lacked in dynamics they made up for with their intricate transitions between songs.

The bass guitarist’s slap bass and amazing handling of complex and ever changing time signatures really held the entire group together and, although he was not too physically involved with the performance, his rhythmic simplicity had a certain funky complexity that was so prevalent in funk bands of the 70s and early 80s.  You could say the same about the guitarist, who kept his complicated chord progressions quiet yet significant to the band’s style.

With the addition of the keyboardist’s knowledge of blues and the percussion sections’ ability to fuse their parts to create a wonderful harmony, the lead section was able to launch themselves into a musical performance that left one with peace in their hearts and dancing on their minds.

With a rhythm section that steadily jammed away, the vocal section had an open road on which they could freely lead the band to that blissful feeling of a truly amazing show.  Most of the dance music from the 70’s involved wailing and cracking vocals that required much more than a vocal talent.  Instead, it asked for musicians to put their heart and soul into the lyrics they sang.  It was much more a religious experience than a test of one’s musical ability and all six of the vocalists stayed true to this idea.

Surprisingly, the lead keyboard player had a voice that stood out over all of the others, and, although this may have been a technical problem, it worked swimmingly with the rest of the feeling, not to mention with his piano style that had a sound reminiscent of Ray Manzarek from The Doors.

The concert series, Funky Dance Madison, uses ticket sales to support the “Dane Dances!” which offer free dances on the terrace rooftop during the summer.

Funky Dance Madison will conclude with a live performance by the Eddie Butts Band, another group known for their 70’s and 80’s covers Friday Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.   To find out more about “Dane Dances!” and the Funky Dance Madison concert series, visit