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Bringing the funk

Brandon-born musician finds inspiration in sounds of the '70s

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/8/2017 (1133 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

You could call it Roman Clarke and the Funky Brunch.

Clarke — who may be more familiar to some as the drummer of local yacht-rock trio the Middle Coast — has a new EP, Looking for Mine, which will be released Sept. 21.

The five songs Clarke has written for the release — selections from which he will perform for diners at the Winnipeg Free Press’s Sunday Brunch Collective on Sept. 10 — have a very distinct, contemporary funk vibe to them.

This wasn’t always his intention, but something about the sound resonated strongly with him, and as he stumbled upon more and more groups who were making not only music he loved to listen to, but music he’d also love to make, his sonic path became more clear.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Roman Clarke will bring his contemporary funk vibe to the Free Press’ upcoming Sunday Brunch Collective on Sept. 10 at Kitchen Sync.</p>


Roman Clarke will bring his contemporary funk vibe to the Free Press’ upcoming Sunday Brunch Collective on Sept. 10 at Kitchen Sync.

"I grew up in Brandon and Brandon is not necessarily… you’re not going to run into a ton of people who really like (neo-soul singer) D’Angelo," Clarke says, laughing. "So I was never exposed to any music that was like that. But for some reason, I feel like I always knew there was something out there that sounded different than Blue Rodeo and April Wine… so as soon as I started hearing music like John Mayer, and all his influences come through in his music in such a way that even just those records kind of helped me develop a taste for groovy music.

"And then the real shift came when I came upon (American funk group) Vulfpeck... and I went down the rabbit hole of not just Vulfpeck, but all the musicians associated with them. It opened my eyes to this community of musicians in L.A. that are just doing this weird, instrumental ‘70s funk revival that really influenced the music that I made."

Audiences will be treated to that groovy sound when, after a three-month break, the monthly Sunday Brunch event returns to Kitchen Sync in the Exchange District. The format remains the same as previous events: two sittings (10 a.m. and 1 p.m.) with a four-course, fixed-menu brunch prepared by chef Ben Kramer, capped off with a performance by a local musician.

For those familiar with Clarke and the Middle Coast, the timing of his EP launch may seem a little odd — after years of recording, re-recording and then writing an entirely new album, the Middle Coast finally released their debut full-length, The Making Of:, in May. Just a couple of weeks later, Clarke dropped his first solo single, Waiting

"As it goes with everything in life, I guess, nothing ever really goes as planned," says Clarke, 21, with a laugh.

Roman Clarke (Joey Senft photo)</p>

Roman Clarke (Joey Senft photo)

"My plan was in tandem with the Middle Coast overall release plan: the Middle Coast will release stuff in September... I’ll release in January, it’s gonna be great," explains Clarke, adding that outside influences suggested both he and the band wait to release their new music for different reasons.

"All of that kind of led to both of these things being released at more or less the same time, which ended up being kind of weird. It was topic of a bit of contention in the band, I would say... but we’re all very diplomatic and nice people so we just ended up working it out in a way that would be beneficial to both (projects), which, I think, so far has worked out pretty good."

Fans of the Middle Coast, fear not; Clarke is adamant the three-piece is moving along at "full-bore" and his bandmates, Dylan MacDonald and Liam Duncan, have supported him through the process of recording and releasing a solo project. 

"There’s only two people in the world I love more than my parents and it’s Dylan and Liam… their opinions matter a lot to me and through my recording these songs, I did receive encouragement from them to release it if that was something I wanted to do," says Clarke.

Clarke is currently working on more material that he will eventually turn into his debut full-length; five songs are in the bank and another three are ready to be recorded this month. His goal is to have the album out by spring 2018.

For now, though, Clarke is excited to get his EP out into the world and will celebrate the occasion with a release show at the Good Will on Sept. 21. And, of course, you can catch his performance Sept. 10 at the next edition of the Winnipeg Free Press Sunday Brunch Collective at Kitchen Sync (370 Donald St.). 

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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Updated on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 12:57 PM CDT: Video added.

September 6, 2017 at 4:28 PM: Update: Sunday Brunch Collective date cancelled.

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