About VibeRide

If you'd like to get in touch, you can email us at: viberide@gmail.com

Since its inception in 2009, VibeRide has become one of the UK's most popular jazz/funk music podcasts, with our mixes being downloaded on average over 3,500 times per month and our YouTube channel receiving over 6,500 visits per month. VibeRide has received acclaim from the International Jamiroquai Fan Discussion forum (jamirotalk.net), Jazz FM and Ronnie Scott's.

Fans of note include former Parliament Funkadelic bassist, Rodney Skeet Curtis; musician Lex Cameron; music journalist & Jazz FM DJ, Pru Fiddy, and musician & celebrity chef, Levi Roots. Our video content has been used by the likes of chictribute.com and Z Records.

VibeRide is hosted by Positive Internet's award-winning Jellycast hosting service and is amongst the top 20 music podcasts. 

How is Funk defined?

According to the anthropologist/art historian Robert Farris Thompson, in his work Flash Of The Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Philosophy, funky has its semantic roots in the Kikongo word "lu-fuki", which means "bad body odor". He says: "Both jazzmen and Bakongo use funky and lu-fuki to praise persons for the integrity of their art, for having 'worked out' to achieve their aims...This Kongo sign of exertion is identified with the irradiation of positive energy of a person. Hence 'funk' in American jazz parlance can mean earthiness, a return to fundamentals." 

African-American jazz musicians originally applied the term to music with a slow, mellow groove, then later with a hard-driving, insistent rhythm, as it implies a bodily or carnal quality. This early form of the music set the pattern for later musicians.

The chords used in funk songs typically imply a dorian or mixolydian mode, as opposed to the major or natural minor tonalities of most popular music. Melodic content was derived by mixing these modes with the blues scale. In the 1970s, jazz music drew upon funk to create a new sub genre of jazz-funk.

The origins of Funk

The distinctive characteristics of African-American musical expression are rooted in West African musical traditions, and find their earliest expression in spirituals, work chants/songs, praise shouts, gospel and blues. In more contemporary music, gospel, blues and blues extensions and jazz often flow together seamlessly. Funky music is an amalgam of soul music, soul jazz and R&B (rhythm & blues). 

James Brown and others have credited Little Richard's saxophone-studded, mid-1950s road band as being the first to put the funk in the rock'n'roll beat. Following his temporary exit from secular music to become an evangelist, some of Little Richard's band members joined Brown and the Famous Flames, beginning a long string of hits in 1958.

By the mid-1960s, James Brown had developed his signature groove that emphasized the downbeat – with heavy emphasis on the first beat of every measure to etch his distinctive sound, rather than the backbeat that typified African American music. Brown often cued his band with the command "On the one!", changing the percussion emphasis/accent from the one-two-three-four backbeat of traditional soul music to the one-two-three-four downbeat – but with an even-note syncopated guitar rhythm (on quarter notes two and four) featuring a hard-driving, repetitive brassy swing. This one-three beat launched the shift in Brown's signature music style, starting with his 1964 hit single, "Out of Sight" and his 1965 hit, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag".

Brown's innovations pushed the funk music style further to the forefront with releases such as "Cold Sweat" (1967), "Mother Popcorn" (1969) and "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" (1970), discarding even the twelve-bar blues featured in his earlier music. Instead, Brown's music was overlaid with "catchy, anthemic vocals" based on "extensive vamps" in which he also used his voice as "a percussive instrument with frequent rhythmic grunts and with rhythm-section patterns ... [resembling] West African polyrhythms" - a tradition evident in African American work songs and chants.* Throughout his career, Brown's frenzied vocals, frequently punctuated with screams and grunts, channeled the "ecstatic ambiance of the black church" in a secular context.*

According to Maceo Parker*, Brown's former saxophonist, playing on the downbeat was at first hard for him and took some getting used to. Reflecting back to his early days with Brown's band, Parker reported that he had difficulty playing "on the one" during solo performances, since he was used to hearing and playing with the accent on the second beat.

What Funk is to me

I'm not a musician and so I wouldn't attempt a 'technical' definition of funk, but I am a human being with ears very experienced in listening to jazz, soul and music with funky rhythms, I 'understand' it in my own layman's way, from the effect it has on me. To me funk or funky music essentially focuses on creating feelings of positivity, quite often with a message. As funk legend and alto sax player Maceo Parker says, it's 'happy music'. It can be simple and highly rhythmical with little more than a bass line and a guitar riff, like Chic for example, or it can be more complex and melodic, incorporating jazz elements with string and brass sections, like Earth, Wind & Fire. Fundamentally though, it is music that lifts your spirits, your mood and, more often than not, your backside off your chair. 

I have a particular affection for jazz-funk acts of the early seventies through to the early eighties, of which there are a huge amount. Given that I love Chic, I suppose I have to say I like 'Disco' too, but I'm not keen on that term because it became synonymous with all the cheesy commercial disco that came about in the late seventies - Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, Bee Gees et al - which resulted in truly talented acts like Chic being tarred with the same brush. 

Why I created VibeRide

Firstly, I figured it would be fun putting mixes together and indeed it is! I only put together mixes that I love to listen to. Create positivity within yourself first, then let it burst forth and seek out others, that's my philosophy.

Over the last 5 years or so, I've become enlightened to the works of the most prominent exponents of jazz-funk and happily addicted to invoking positivity in myself by playing said works any chance I get. Happy feelings are addictive. Funk is addictive.

I am a person who now and again needs to make a conscious effort to re-centre into positive thoughts and happiness. I've found music to be one of the most effective ways of acheiving this. That's why music is important to me and I think, perhaps, it's important to many people for the same reason. From experience, I know it can, without fail, shift my mood away from negativity whenever required, just like loving human relationships can.

In short, I hope that anyone who listens to my mixes will be left feeling happier and more positive afterwards. It's as simple as that.

Keeping funk alive

I had a secondary motive for creating VibeRide. The Internet and digital technology is a double-edged sword; it can be used in ways that are positive for music, but also in ways that are not. For the last decade or so increasingly 'sophisticated' and cheap music technology has been used by producers to churn out simplistic music to make bundles of cash from teenagers eager to spend their money on something and idolise a pretty face.

In my view, the music that you hear in pop charts today is almost anti-music. Most of it has had so little time and effort put into its creation that when I hear a pop song today it just makes me a little sad. It's like putting a van Gogh painting on display in a broom cupboard and putting a stick figure drawing done on the back of a beer mat on display in the Louvre. The sophisticated, intelligent, skillfully crafted music that people poured and are pouring their hearts and souls into is being ignored. And this is a great loss to young people. How could it not be? Young people need to be inspired and they should be inspired by music born out of real love and musical talent, not music created by a software package designed to maximise profit.

Popular music hasn't always been this degraded and desparately unsophisticated. It's not too long ago that, on top of the mediocrity, there was always some truly wonderful music in the pop charts, which maintained popular music's credibility. But today there's no diamonds in the sand, no roses amongst the weeds. Just a big pile of sand and weeds pranced over by good-looking boys and girls. 
I want VibeRide, in its own little way, to push back against this movement of non-music that the misguided use of technology by many producers and record labels has created. I would love to see young people listening to the likes of Earth, Wind & Fire; music that is the result of the awesome power of the human mind and spirit.

Music as therapy

A few months after starting VibeRide I happened to read about Music Therapy and I became aware of some excellent children's music charities. I decided I would use VibeRide to support these charities by donating our sales commissions to them.

I hope I can find other ways to have fun with VibeRide and raise even more funds for charity. One idea is to stage a regular fundraising event, such as a VibeRide 'FunkFest', to bring like-minded music lovers together to enjoy great music and help others out too.

I hope to see you at a VibeRide event some day soon. Stay funky.


* References
Collins, W. (2002, January 29). James Brown. St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Retrieved January 12, 2007.

Gross, T. (1989). Musician Maceo Parker (Fresh Air WHYY-FM audio interview). National Public Radio. Retrieved January 22, 2007.