Words by Chris Ellis. Photos by Kendra Merrill.
Ken Dunbar and Mike Scott (above) and journalist Garret K. Woodward (below), author of ‘The Bumblef**k’ and ‘Backwoods Bugler,’ joined Taz and Shannon on the Taz Michaels Show tonight.
Mike Scott and Ken Dunbar joined The Taz Michaels show tonight to perform brand new “Free Range” music. If you missed the show, you missed an unbelievable array of raga and hip hop sounds coming from just two people. We had Mike Scott live working a foot pedal board full of loops and effects for his guitar and the microphone. The mic not only picked up his vocals but also the smooth sounds of his saxophone, harmonica, flute and other instruments! He was added effects like reverberation, delay and more all on the fly. Now imagine all that accompanied by percussionist Ken Dunbar on a Latin double (two bongos, with a set of three congas). This added up to an impressive full live electronic show.
Mike Scott got his start with music at 14-15 years old by picking up his mom’s old acoustic guitar that could barely stay in tune. Shortly after, he taught himself an instrument his sister had laying around collecting dust, the flute. He wanted to do something different than the popular guitar route, and that’s what led to the many instruments he played live for us, as well as others like the upright bass, mandolin, melodica, banjo, and lap steel. Mike says, “once you know the language, all you gotta do is be able to pronounce the words. Its all one language.” Mike believes we have all been influenced and affected by mass culture. His influences include the specific sounds of Curtis Mayfield, Bob Marley, Sam Cook and contemporaries Fevery Corp., Bonobo and others.
Ken Dunbar who is 62 years young now, started when he was just 15 to 16 years old playing percussion to Crosby, Stills and Nash on the hollow body of an acoustic guitar. He says the American Black music of the 60s helped birth his sound. At the age of 19 he entered the military where he discovered the intensity of his passion. Henry Gibson, who is the most recorded percussionist to this day, influenced Ken Dunbar musically. Ken plays (and has played) in many different music genres including soul, funk, and jazz, in countless bands, but Ken gets his natural Latin vibe from growing up in Brooklyn playing salsa rhythms. Ken is living proof that the music scene is ancestral. When asked what other instruments he plays, Ken will respond with something like, “Chimes, bells, shakers. If it rhymes, if it rattles, if it shakes, if it jingles, if it whistles, if it thumps, I’m playing it.”
Mike Scott and Ken Dunbar (K. Sanford Dunbar, Sr.) enjoy being a contributing force in the music industry. Love plays a big role. They believe music, as well as food, are the best way to spread love. They take on a serious vibe to make people consider what’s happening on a global scale. How do we make ourselves better, and more importantly, each other better? Mike’s lyrics are often an honest peephole into very important healing events that are happening today. He is making a call to the people and they need to hear what he has to say. Ken Dunbar says, “wake up and smell the coffee” and to “look up” and pay attention to the life that is passing you by. So sit back and enjoy the vibe or dive into the pools of meaning, Mike says, “you can go as deep as you would like.”