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Crown Royals
Ken Vandermark's mainstream band proves he's not just an avant-gardeist, in one of the city's many cross-genre fertilizations (in the rockish realm, members of the foursome have played with the Waste Kings, God's Acre, and the Flying Luttenbachers) although it does make you feel a little sorry for him. The music grooves well enough (The Illinois Entertainer calls them "Perhaps the coolest little-known band in Chicago"), but it doesn't have quite the glamour of avant-soul brother Mars Williams' Liquid Soul. It also leaves me pining for another lead instrument, say, a vocalist. As it stands, the ensemble is -- essentially -- a minimalist funk band. They do play all their own parts, in stark contrast to most of the sample-heavy funk bands who were around when this group started 5 years ago...

I wish Vandermark would stretch out a little more. The few hints at Vandermark's talent in this sea of very listenable (too listenable?) controlled funk, are delicious. This band could really introduce a lot of folks to his amazing improvization if Vandermark just gave it a chance...

Other members include drummer Jeff BBQ, guitarist Pete Nathan, and bassist Mark Blade. They recently released their second album, Funky-Do! (Estrus).

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