Live albums by: Carrie Akre, Rudy, Velvet, Straight No Chaser, Ponticello, and Lappelectro (Kufala Recordings)
By: Alex Steininger
A unique record label based out of Los Angeles, started by three music lovers - Brady Lahr (President, Senior Vice President of A&R), David Kurtz (CEO), and Khalid S. Al-Faisal (Chairman and Founder) - Kufala makes recordings as they're ordered. They never sit on overstock; they never press up more than they need. Think of them as the Burger King of independent Music. They're readily available and everywhere (you can purchase their releases on their website at www.kufala.com or stores local to each artist's region), and they're made to order.
In addition to specializing in made-to-order albums (which are CD-Rs, but have inked-on disc print, not just glued on labels), Kufala specializing in releasing live albums from some of your favorite indie artists.
Since their inception in early 2002, they've amassed a nice catalog. Live albums from Carrie Akre, Rudy, Velvet, Straight No Chaser, and Lappelectro, as well as studio albums by Ponticello, have made them an indie label to quickly take notice of.
Their biggest sellers are two live albums from former Goodness/Hammerbox front woman Carrie Akre. One recorded at her CD release party for her latest album, Invitation (My Way Records), which took place August 8, 2002 at Seattle's EMP, as well as another show from November 15, 2002, which once again features Carrie Akre and her band at the EMP.Though both performances are noteworthy, the November 15th show wins out. Featuring horn player Jason Parker and the EMP Youth Choir, these added additions on a few songs are the clincher that seals the deal. However, Orbiter guitarist (and Akre's former band mate in Hammerbox) Harris Thurmond's guest appearance (after Orbiter opened the show) at the CD release party on "Under The Moon" and "When 2is2" adds a nice touch, if only because it's great to hear Thurmond playing with Akre again.
Both are two-disc sets and well worth their purchase price.
Lappelectro's Seattle, WA 07/01 offers up four songs clocking in at a combined forty-seven minutes, taking you on an adventure of electro-space experiments. Mind-blowing fun, the improvised, jammy space songs twist and mold your mind as the aural hinges on the super natural.
Ponticello, who have never been a favorite of mine, mix-and-match bluegrass, Celtic, and Cajun music, led by the fiddle, to create their hee-haw party-time jamboree with Cotton Diesel, easily their best work to date, and most palatable to boot. After a few listens, they even take a good stab at winning you over, which is saying a lot, seeing as how I never could get past their hybrid sound. Here, however, they put you in the mood to dance, which is a great mood to be in.
A 2-disc set of Rudy live at the Skydive Sebastian in Sebastian, Florida on October 28, 2000 delivers groove-laden, rhythmic frat-funk, a beer-guzzling, mellow, infectious-ly danceable sound that would fit right in at the suburban neighborhood bar. Still, they do it so well and so precise, it's hard to hold it against them, as they too make you want to drink a few, find someone, and have fun on the dance floor.
Straight No Chaser's On The Get Down brings you a heaping portion of soul-funk, traces of jazz and groove intertwined for a sweet, mellow vibe.
The most released band on Kufala, however, is Velvet, with an astonishing four releases in under a year. Victoria B.C. 10.11.02, Victoria B.C. 04.08.02, and Victoria B.C. - 7/14-7/21/02 are all 2-disc sets that find the band playing a different set, with different songs, each night. And if that wasn't prolific enough, the fourth disc, Volume 1 - Live At Steamers once again finds the band playing more of their coffee shop, rhythmic groove-soul songs, with another set-list different than the other three discs.
Kufala has a nice roster, a lot of great things happening for 2003, and good people behind them. Their concept label seems to be paying off as well, with each release garnering more and more acclaim for both the bands and the label, as the label continues to put out quality, classy music that, without any other objectives, just wants you to have fun and dance. And each successfully do that without a doubt.
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