DOORSTEP INTERVIEW: King Bee | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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One of the best known, and most loved, funk bands on the circuit, Newcastle’s King Bee bring their funk-tastic show to Hoochie Coochie for some soulful and sax-y summer sounds. We had a chat with them to find out more…

Who are you and where are you from?
We’re a seven piece funk/jazz-funk band based in Newcastle. Dave Wilde on sax and flute, Chris Jelly on vibraphone, Dan Brady on bass, Stephen Glendinning on guitar, Richard Burns plays trumpet, Mark Hand plays keys and Jonathan Marriott is on drums. All the lads live in the North East, with Chris originally from Dorset and Richard from Melbourne in Australia – he’s managed to pick up some Geordie words better than others.

What inspired you to create the music you do?
Dave and Dan met at college and started playing and writing music there. All the guys have been making music from an early age and gradually got together as a band over a period of three or four years.

Who are your biggest influences?  
Influences are many and varied, but I think common ground can be found with Roy Ayers, Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham, Miles Davis and other such luminaries. No throw away stuff here!

How would you describe your sound?
That’s a difficult one for us to pin down. We are primarily a funk band with the added elements of jazz and jazz funk. What may set the band apart from others is the inclusion of vibraphone which is highly unusual to find these days. All tracks are original and there’s some audience participation to be had too!

Where do you see yourselves fitting into the region’s music scene?
I may be wrong but I don’t think there is a band in the region who are doing that we do, like we do it. A seven piece including horns and vibes? No, just us!

What can audiences expect from your live show?
You can expect a performance of well over an hour usually, a bit of Aussie/Geordie banter and some quality tunes. We’ve never played a gig yet where someone wasn’t playing air vibes or drums by the time we finish.

What gigs do you have coming up in the region?
Locally, we’re at Hoochie Coochie in Newcastle on Friday 15th July and we’ll be at Lindisfarne Festival on Friday 2nd September too.

What do you think has been the band’s biggest achievement to date?
There have been many I suppose. Playing in front of 20,000 people at the Newcastle Winter Festival on New Year’s Eve in 2013; Gateshead Jazz Festival last year; releasing our debut album in 2014 which was mastered in Los Angeles by the guy who re-mastered J-Dilla; recording our debut 7” vinyl single which included a Smoove Remix; reaching number one in the Juno Vinyl Funk Bestsellers Chart at the beginning of 2016; we got 9 out of 10 at Blues and Soul Magazine and included in Craig Charles Best of 2015 at BBC 6 Music, and on May Bank Holiday we exclusively supported Roy Ayers and Lonnie Liston Smith. Legends!

What are your plans for the future?
We are in the process of recording new material for a vinyl EP release later this year. There’s a video in production too. Other festival gigs will be announced as soon as the festivals let us announce them!

King Bee play Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle on Friday 15th July.

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