Rocket Shop 8/3/2011: Funkwagon & Last October

Funkwagon with Sam. Words & photos by John Powell.

“It’s like church,” singer/organist Aaron Burroughs explains of the 11-piece Funkwagon. He adds, with a chuckle, “with a bar and hot girls.” He’s joined in the studio with bassist Luke Fox and backing singer Samira Simmons as they bring robust soul to Rocket Shop. “We’re on the funk wagon,” Samira laughs, about her and Luke’s role in the band, which has been around a handful of years already, but is jumping into a tour with a few start-up dates, including being the first act at Rhinofest in Plainfield, Friday, August 5th. Their tour, at the end of August, will be in the BHW van. “We’re poor,” says Aaron, “So we’re thankful.”

Rocket Shop played two songs of theirs, which can be found online. Their sound is fun and exciting. “Everything has funk sprinkled on it,” Aaron explains, adding that they play many covers and Luke adds that they’ve got a lot of soul to them too. Funkwagon, (no space, so not like paddy wagon), is also hitting up Breakwaters, and the band agrees that playing around town is a whole lot of fun, especially when you’re playing music you love.

Last October

Acoustic duo Last October, made up of James Kinne and Erica Stroem, visited Rocket Shop after Funkwagon, quieting the mood. “We holed ourselves up last October,” Erica says, which is how they got their name. They wrote a bunch of songs, James singing and playing guitar and Erica singing. They harmonize, take turns at lead vocals, and dig into heartfelt, introspective lyrics. “He brought the songwriter out in me,” Erica says of James, who is also a producer.

The duo hails from Waitsfield, but they’re both actually from New Jersey. They also play in the Phineas Gage Project with Rob Williams, also from Waitsfield via Jersey. James and Erica played a bunch of their songs, including the first tune Last October ever wrote. “Home fills a void in our soul,” they sing, and “Feeling life in a way we almost forgot.” It’s interesting that they use the pronoun “we”, but that’s because these songs were written together. However, even though the project was born inside, Erica and James play out as much as possible, busking on Church St. and down by the waterfront. Erica praised Vermont’s music scene. “It’s great,” she says, and we think the same thing about Last October.

The Rocket Shop playlist:

Funkwagon, "Been So Good To Me"
Funkwagon, "If You Can't Get Down"
Last October, "Down This Road" (Live)
Last October, "Catch a Moment" (Live)
Last October, "Work In Progress" (Live)
Last October, "Ride This High" (Live)