At nightclubs or parties in Taiwan, funk music is usually absent or relegated to the warm-up times before anyone shows up. But tomorrow night, funk takes center stage at Revolver all night long with the Soul, Sweat & Swank Show.
Paul Duffy, the 29-year-old Brit who started Soul, Sweat & Swank in 2008, said that this series of parties came from a discussion at a bar about classic soul music. He was talking with a friend and thought, “It’s a crime that you don’t hear more funk and soul anywhere, especially in Taiwan, despite the fact that so many people love this music.”
The Soul, Sweat & Swank Show had its first home at Bliss, a live house that closed down in 2009. Duffy’s original partner returned to the US, so he teamed up with Graham Forrest, a 30-year-old Scotsman with an encyclopedic knowledge of funk, when he restarted the parties in February.
“Graham came to one of our nights when we did it at Bliss and we got into a conversation about funk,” Duffy said. “He seemed to have the best knowledge of funk of anyone I’d ever met, so it was an easy choice.”
Funk is such a hard thing to pigeonhole because it’s nearly impossible to describe with words, yet very easy to know when something is actually funky.
“Funk is a communal thing. You can’t funk on your own,” said Forrest, who once discussed with Mudbone Cooper, the singer in Bootsy Collins’ Rubber Band, the definition of funk.
“If you look at its roots in African music, the crowd is as important a part of the experience as musicians,” Forrest said. “Cooper talked about how the energy for the shows was the band energizing the crowd, who returned the energy to the stage and the band in turn fed off that.”
Forrest describes George Clinton, a man who’s been knee-deep in live funk performances since the 1970s, as his favorite. “Clinton in his many forms wrote the rule book, tore it up, and took it to places and levels nobody else would have even thought about,” Forrest said. “I think the early Funkadelic records are classics that a lot of people have slept on. They are dark, uplifting, and odd. Bagpipes on a funk record? Why?”
While most of the Soul, Sweat & Swank parties this year have consisted of Duffy and Forrest selecting songs, they are expanding. “We’ve decided to start bringing more related musicians and DJs to our show to spice it up and make each event special,” Duffy said. “In July we’re lining up something special with a former Brown Sugar DJ and also a saxophonist.”
The Soul, Sweat & Swank Show is tomorrow night at Revolver from 11pm to 5am, 1-2, Roosevelt Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路一段1-2號). On the Net: www.revolvertaipei.com. Admission is NT$300, which includes a drink. Ladies get in free before midnight.