Sundown at Granada is a trendy little beer garden next door to Dallas’s famed Granada Theater. It has a notoriously good selection of beer and vegan cuisine, and while I’m sure that is motivating for some, I was looking for a good healthy dose of funk. Friday, that was on the menu as well.
By the time I got there, the Effinays party was in full swing. The crowd in front of the stage was dense and in motion, and while I was able to spot an open table to the right of the stage, it took some doing just swim through the room to safety. There’s a comfortable feeling in this joint — it was like having the Effinays play your living room. The band members are Joe “Big Spook” Martinez (lead vocals), Julian “King” Ayacannoo (sax), Jeremy “Pan Blanco” Piering (bass), Valenti “Funk” Thomas (drums, keyboard), Jason “Shaggy” Kerr (guitar), Marquise “Kool-Aide” Jones (sax) and Craig “D-Rail” Kleiman (percussion).
The Effinays have added Kleiman, who tacks on some percussion to an already percussive and full sound, since the last time I saw them. It works well. If you haven’t seen these guys, they do a mixture of rock, reggae, Latin and funk that’s better than any anti-depressant out there. When these guys leap into Donut Shop, I don’t care if you just lost your job, wrecked your car or drove through Dallas traffic to see a show on Greenville — you will have a good time. You simply have no choice in the matter.
They did mostly originals, with the notable exception of a cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, done in a way that actually made me want to listen to Billie Jean. I wasn’t sure that was possible, but they pulled it off.
Musicianship with these guys is first rate. Jones and Ayacannoo know how to sax it up; Shaggy was named best guitarist by the Dallas Observer in 2013, and the percussion by Funk and Kleiman couldn’t be better. Big Spook’s vocals are gritty and charismatic, and it wouldn’t be funk without a great bass man like Piering.
But it’s the stage presence and interaction with the audience that sells it. I think Jones spent half the night keeping a drunk girl from knocking over the gear at the edge of the stage, but he never lost his cool. These are guys playing great music and having a great time, and you can’t help being sucked into it. They have a CD coming out soon, and we’ll let you know when that happens. Go see them at all costs.