Juno What?! / Downstereo @ 2720 Cherokee, St. Louis, MO

Words and pictures by Duane Clawson
2720 Cherokee has become one of new favorite places to catch a live show.  With their throwback sound system and a mix of art and music that is just flat out entertaining.  Tonight, I walked into 2720 to find DJ and, all-around musician, Mikey Wheling doing some kinda funky white-boy dance behind his iPad while setting the tone for this evening’s funkiness.  Actually, I was quite entertained by Mr. Wheling’s DJ abilities and impressed that it was all happening from an iPad.  Before we get too far into this review, I have to give kudos to 2720 Cherokee for their band parings. They always do a tremendous job of getting opening acts that compliment the headliner.  With that said, tonight was no exception.

After DJ Mikey warmed the venue, Downstereo continued the trend with their own brand of funky goodness.  Downstereo’s sound falls into numerous music genres.  Jazz fusion, electronic, funk, rock, and disco infiltrate the band’s setlist.  Downstereo has a core of three musicians:  Nate Carpenter (keyboards}, Canon Deweese (drums), Gavin Duffy (bass/lead guitar).  Tonight at 2720, the band included Leroy Carpenter on the bass, which moved Gavin Duffy to lead guitar.  Downstereo was formed out the remains of the St. Louis band Messy Jiverson.  Currently, Downstereo is working on original material and a new recording as well.  Downstereo has a weekly residency at the Delmar Restaurant & Lounge.  You can, and I suggest you do, catch them at Delmar on Sundays @ 8:00pm.
Many years ago the immortal lyric, “Play that funky music, white boy ...” was uttered by the band Wild Cherry.  For years, many have attempted and failed to emulate these lyrics, that is, until Juno What?! came along.  Juno What?! came to life in Denver, Colorado, somewhere in the latter part of 2009.  Steve Watkins (keyboards/talkbox/bass), Joey Porter (keyboards/talkbox), and Dave Watts (drums/samples) comprise this band of funky throwbacks.  The band often borrows local talent and invites these guest musicians to sit in with the band.  Juno What?! was joined by Mikey Wehling (guitar),  who is a well-versed musician that had no problem blending in with these masters of funk.  Tonight in St. Louis, was the beginning of the band’s winter tour.  Juno What?! utilizes the talkbox for their vocals.  Both Watkins and Porter share and combine their skills with the talkbox.  The talkbox has been employed by funk legends Zapp & Roger, guitarist Peter Frampton, and most notably heard throughout Tupac’s “California Love”.

Juno What?! offers up a sound that is retro but still remains fresh.  This combination has gained the band a large following in very short amount of time.  As I photographed the band’s set, I found myself remembering what a powerful instrument the synthesizer could be when placed in capable hands.  Juno What?! has released a couple of albums, which are available on their website.  The albums are free to download so you have nothing to lose.  When you do download the albums, be forewarned that those white boys from Colorado can surely play that funky music.  Special thanks to Andrea Craven from Home Team Publicity for allowing me to cover the show, Nate Carpenter of Downstereo for a background of the band, and 2720 Cherokee for bringing another quality show to St. Louis .  Photos of the show are below:

 Juno What?!
 Contributed by Duane Clawson
Juno What?! / Downstereo @ 2720 Cherokee, St. Louis, MO Juno What?! / Downstereo @ 2720 Cherokee, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on February 16, 2012 Rating: 5
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