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'Bot Rockin' Beats

By Mike Breen · February 7th, 2012 · Spill It
If a duo can qualify as a “supergroup,” then Freekbot is a legit local music supergroup. 

Freekbot features Freekbass (a.k.a. bassist/singer Chris Sherman of Funk crew Freekbass) and Tobotius (a.k.a. Tobe Donohue, producer and founder of world-renowned turntable crew Animal Crackers) in an Electronic duo configuration. The project has been the priority project of Sherman’s — while he normally spends a lot of time on the road with his eponymous band, Freekbot “has been the focal point of late,” Sherman says. 

Freekbot makes its Cincy debut at The Mad Frog in Corryville this Saturday. Showtime is 9 p.m. and admission is $10. MC/DJ Firecat 451 opens the show and famed keyboardist Razor Sharp Johnson (P-Funk, Bootsy’s Rubberband) will sit in with the duo.

I recently chatted with Sherman via email about Freekbot’s past, present and future. Read the full Q&A on CityBeat’s music blog. 

CityBeat: You’re known for your great live show with Freekbass. Did you make an effort to make the Freekbot show as energetic and flamboyant?
: It’s weird because as crazy or over-the-top as maybe the show seemed at times, I never thought or really tried to make it that way. It just felt natural. Growing up watching Bowie, Talking Heads, P-Funk, etc., I just thought that is the way things worked live. I am definitely still “freeking” on stage with Freekbot … The challenge for both Tobe and I is balancing two to three things in every song between playing, working loops, changing scenes and grooves. There is always plenty to freek on and with, which is what makes it such a fun ride.

CB: From the clips I have seen of you performing live with Freekbot, it seems like you leave things somewhat open-ended so that you can improvise on the fly and stretch out.
: About (half) of our set is very arranged and “to the point” songs, and the other half we can go as long or short as we are feeling.

That is another exciting thing about the livetronica medium; it always feels more like an event or party and everyone, including the audience, is part of the music. They are dictating the set as much as we are.

CB: Do you have any plans for a Freekbot record?
: We kind of already started releasing Freekbot material. The current Freekbass album, Concentrate (which you can download for free, by the way, at freekbass.bandcamp.com) contains a good chunk of songs we do live and is produced by Freekbot. The other half comes out within this month (on) I Tobot, which will be Tobe’s version with songs we do live. We are kind of doing it almost OutKast style … a double release, just so we are spreading it out a bit. After those run for a bit, we will work on a new Freekbot album, which we already have a good amount of material for. 

Winter Blues?

It hasn’t felt much like winter, but the show must go on and the Cincy Blues Society is presenting this year’s Winter Blues Fest once again Friday and Saturday, regardless of the temperature. After several years in Northern Kentucky, the fest is following the MidPoint Music Festival’s lead and moving its entire 2012 event to Over-the-Rhine. This weekend, more than 25 performers will entertain in four centrally located clubs — The Drinkery, Below Zero and venues in the former homes of Rhythm & Blues Café and Harry’s Pizza. 

The fest is also introducing a couple of other new features. For the first time, the Winter Blues Fest will feature a “national” headlining act — Nashville’s RB Stone plays Saturday at 11:30 p.m. at The Drinkery. And Friday night, The Drinkery showcases female Blues artists, with Kelly Richey, Miss Lissa & Company, Tempted Souls and Ellie Lee & Blues Fury slated to appear. 

Another cool feature for this year’s festival is the introduction of a free, all-ages stage. A nod to the Cincy Blues Society’s Blues in the Schools initiative (Winter Blues Fest is the educational program’s main fundraiser), the former Harry’s Pizza space will feature the Blues in the Schools Band (starring youngsters from the program) both nights for an “under-21 jam” at 7 p.m.

The fest is loaded with some of the best Blues acts in Cincinnati, including Ricky Nye Inc., Noah Wotherspoon, The Dalton Street Gang, The Juice, Mudpies, 46 Long, The Mudpies, Leroy Ellington, Chuck Brisbin, G. Miles and the Hitmen, Electric Souls, The Blues Merchants, Them Bones and the Greg Schaber Band (a High Street Rhythm Rockers reunion of sorts with Ron Esposito and Jeff Dobbins joining Schaber). 

For the full lineup and more info, visit the CityBeat music blog and cincyblues.org. 

CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen@citybeat.com



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