Pets allowed - Snarky Puppy bring funk and fur to the Central Belt

IF BROOKLYN-BASED groove-dogs Snarky Puppy were a pooch they’d probably be something akin to Charlie Brown’s pet Beagle, Snoopy: funky, perennially cool, and in a league of their own.

A funk band for the iPod generation, they are arguably the most innovative funkateers since Maynard Ferguson’s fusion years. Snarky Puppy’s top dog Michael League refers to their sound as “jafunkadansion”.

“The most obvious thing that makes Snarky Puppy unique is its compositional diversity,” he says. “The material goes from Afro-Cuban to gospel to straight-up funk very quickly and very naturally. We also get bored very easily, so two-chord funk jams don’t really do it anymore - unless it’s really funky.”

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Derived from a litter of North Texas State University music program students in 2004, Snarky Puppy are at the forefront of a revised funk movement; a coterie that includes their American contemporaries Lettuce, Poogie Bell and Soulive.

However, getting these pups over to this side of the Atlantic in recent years hasn’t proved easy. That was until Edinburgh’s Horndog Brass Band’s Calum McIntyre offered to promote two shows for them in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“I’m more excited about playing in Scotland than anywhere else on this tour,” says League, Puppy’s bassist, composer and producer.

“Maybe it’s because I’m secretly hoping that everyone will look exactly like Mel Gibson from Braveheart, only instead of wanting freedom, wanting really diverse instrumental fusion. Also, my family’s name (League) comes from Logue. Oh, and haggis. I want the band to eat haggis.”

Unsurprisingly, The Horndogs will be supporting Snarky Puppy when they come to Scotland. Indeed, Caledonia has no shortage of its own funk bands at the moment; the likes of 101st Airborne, Federation Of The Disco Pimp, Gecko 3, Das Contras and Mike Kearney’s Ka-Tet leading the way.

What’s most notable about Puppy’s Edinburgh date, though, is that anyone taking their own dog along to the Bongo Club will be entitled to a discounted ticket. Looks like everyone and their pedigree chum will be getting a bit hot under the collar, then, eh?

“Absolutely. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t love dogs with all of their heart,” says League. “I instantly feel a kinship with our Celtic dogs of the horny persuasion, and I hope to hear lots of barking during the most sensitive moments in our set.”

Made up of musicians who regularly collaborate with the likes of P Diddy, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg and Tower Of Power, as League suggests, the Snarky Puppy septet can’t wait to whippet good.

“[You can expect] the removal of clothing - hopefully from the audience, as no one wants to see us do it - Van Halen-level pyrotechnics, and music that incites irresponsible decision making.” says League.

Fetching indeed. Release the hounds.

• Snarky Puppy will be appearing at Stereo, Glasgow on 9 April (£12/£10) and at The Bongo Club, Edinburgh on 11 April (£12/£10 or £8 with your dog). They will also host clinics at Stereo from 4:30pm on 9 April and at the Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, from 4:30pm on 10 April. Entry to the clinic costs £8 (£15 if also attending the gig).

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