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Dick’s Den Residency: Ben “Silky” Johnson

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by Andrew Patton on July 2, 2018

The Dick’s Den Wednesday Residency program continues strong into the summer with an eclectic and provocative installment led by bassist Ben “Silky” Johnson. A veteran of numerous Columbus bands of numerous descriptions, including his own appropriately-titled Insane Jazz Posse, Johnson has used these connections to assemble a lineup of some of Columbus’ finest musicians for a varied slate that still has a strong jazz core. I had the opportunity to sit down with Johnson at a June Dick’s Den Residency performance by Brett Burleson to discuss his projects – keep reading to learn more. Each Wednesday’s show starts around 10pm and cover is $5. Drop by Dick’s on Wednesdays in July and get weird!

Wednesday, July 4th: Johnson Family Funk, featuring Jonathan Wells on MPC/turntables, Faheem Najieb on sax, Max Marsillo on drums and percussion, and Johnson on bass. Johnson: “This group really bridges the gap between jazz, hip hop, and everything in between. It [follows] jam session etiquette as far as [Wells] charts a skeleton beat and the drummer picks it up, then [Wells] cues samples and we figure out what key it’s in, then I put down a bassline, and someone solos over that. It’s a constant rotation of solos. Coming out the gate real weird. I’m going to try to get some other horn players to sit in, but Faheem is the main guy. Lots of drums, lots of bass solos.”

July 11th: Insane Jazz Posse. Presenting “Deconstructed pop tunes in the most abrasive way possible,” this long-running group includes Alex Burgoyne on sax, Danny Bauer on keys, Zakk Jones on guitar, and Seth Daily on drums. Johnson: “We got a couple new arrangements of pop tunes. I have a fair amount of originals, and it’s my residency, so we’re probably going to play those.” The band hopes to release a live album soon.

July 18th: Jenny Flory. Johnson and guitarist/vocalist Flory will be joined by Paul Valdiviez on drums and probably Faheem Najieb on sax. Johnson: “I think generally, for Jenny, the buzzword is ‘soul’ no matter what she does, it’s soulful as fuck. That’s how I’m selling it. We’re doing a lot of old Sam Cooke tunes and things like that. We also do 90’s tunes, like stupid R&B songs, but in a different R&B fashion. Fairly eclectic, as far as the tune list. Like Stevie Wonder to Christina Aguilera, all tunes that people know. If a pack of 24 year-old girls come in here, they’ll be like, ‘yessss.’ I told [Flory] that before we had the band, and the first gig we had, that’s exactly what happened. If you grew up in the 90’s, you’ll be like, ‘yessss.'”

July 25th: Daddy Issues. Johnson: “I started a new funk band. Me and Dan Shaw have been talking about starting a super band with one dude from [multiple] bands in town, basically all of the best players we know. And Dan didn’t end up being on it, it just didn’t work out. Nate Parker is on drums, Ian Carroll on guitar, me on bass, Alex Burgoyne on sax, and Doni Jai Washington on keys. We’re just doing straight-up funk tunes, like old school shit. Probably way too many solos, some super weird shit’s gonna happen. It’s going to be very unrehearsed. I feel like the name is attention-grabbing enough – ‘Oh, that sounds like a funk band.’ I was in New Orleans and one of Evan [Oberla’s] buddies was playing in a band, that’s still around, called Naughty Professor. I thought that was an amazing name for a funk band, so I’m trying to think along the lines of that I guess? And I landed on Daddy Issues. That’s the day before my birthday, so I guess I turn 30 at midnight. All of these players are out of control good. All of the groups I’m very excited about, but that one for sure because of the caliber of players on it, not that I called any slouches for any [of these gigs]. But we’re gonna get busy as fuck.”

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