PHILLY GUMBO: PHILADELPHIA’S #1 GROOVE BAND
“not just irresistible but transcendent!”
–Philadelphia City Paper
“The area’s tastiest musical ragout of New Orleans parish-based soul, blues,
reggae and dense funk.”
–A.D. Amorisi, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Way better than Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings…and more authentic!”
–Philadelphia International producer Bobby Eli
“On South Street, Philly Gumbo ruled the funk scene when The Roots
were mere seedlings.”
–Rick Allen, Vintage Guitar Magazine
Philly Gumbo’s distinctive blend of New Orleans R & B, funk, reggae, blues and soul has
made it a unique and popular presence on the Philadelphia music scene for more thirty years.
Over the years, the band has been a “Best Of” selection by Philadelphia Magazine in their annual
“Best Of Philadelphia” issues as well as having played most of the top venues in the area such as
The Kimmel Center, the City Winery,The Sellersville Theater and World Café Live and such
major events as the Atlantic City Summer Jazz Festival, Musikfest, Jambalaya Jam, Jam On The
River, WRTI-FM’s Groovin’ In The Park, the Media Blues Stroll, The West Oak Lane Jazz &
Arts Festival and many more. Philly Gumbo has opened for such greats as Dr. John, Buddy Guy
& Jr. Wells, Rick Danko & Levon Helm of The Band and The Mighty Diamonds. Having
pioneered the live music scene at the legendary South Street venue Bacchanal, Philly Gumbo
was often joined by such special guests as Todd Rundgren, David Lindley, Teddy Royal of Fats
Domino’s band, members of Harold Melvin & The Blues Notes’ band and others. In addition,
members of Philly Gumbo have played with such legends as Little Milton, Wilson Pickett, Bo
Diddley and Big Youth.
“Philly Gumbo’s long-term popularity has come from two things,” notes founding member
Randall Grass: “an ability to play an authentic and unique mix of New Orleans
R & B, funk, reggae, blues and soul, and the presence of great singers, such as Brenda Smith,
Walt Taylor, Jeannie Brooks, Richard Johnson, and current lead vocalist India Rex.”
Formed in late 1980, the band quickly developed a following at the Germantown club
Takers Café with a unique mix of music reminiscent of New Orleans group The Neville
Brothers. As such, the group pioneered the popularity of New Orleans music in Philadelphia,with a celebrated weekly gig at Bacchanal for nearly a decade. The band released its debut single “Holy War b/w Mardi Gras” in 1984 and contributed the original song “Xmas In New Orleans” to the Seasons Greetings Philadelphia benefit CD in 1999.
Four members of Philly Gumbo—drummer Tim Hayes, bassist Bert Harris, guitarist Pete
Eshelman and keyboardist Randall Grass–have been the core of the band since the beginning
while saxophonist Richard Orr often sat in with the band as early as the 80’s and vocalist
extraordinaire India Rex, is the latest in a long line of exceptional vocalists. The band released a
new CD “Come And Get It” in 2011. A Philly Gumbo performance makes a great listening
experience, with it’s ever-shifting mix of New Orleans R & B, blues, jazz, funk, reggae, soul and
even African music, but is equally suited for dancing.
The band appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, it is difficult to resist getting
up and shaking your groove thing to Philadelphia’s greatest groove band!
PHILLY GUMBO VIDEO LINKS:
100 Days 100 Nights/ World Café Live
Hey Pocky Way / World Café Live
To Know You Is To Love You (studio, unmixed)
Second Line / City Winery @Mardi Gras
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