Saturday night, over in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, there’s going to be a fairly fantastic thing going on. Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band will be taking the Opera House stage. The fun begins at 9 p.m., and holy cow, if you pick one show to see in Shepherdstown all year, this should be a strong candidate for the one you check out. They released their fourth studio album, “Funk Life,” earlier this year, and even though they come from Asheville, North Carolina, they pack a serious New Orleans vibe. We recently caught up with guitarist and vocalist JP Miller to talk about what it takes to live a Funk Life, how great it was to sit in with Parliament-Funkadelic, and, of course, what they think of the Opera House. Honestly. Saturday night. You should make plans.
You guys released “Funk Life” earlier this year. I figure you would probably know more than others – what exactly does it take to live a Funk Life and what’s your advice for people wanting to live a Funk Life?
Funk is not just a genre of music, it is a lifestyle. If you are Funky, there is no need to hide it. Let your inner Funk shine bright. It is also contagious and can be passed on. Once you let the Funk into your life, it becomes a part of your every day life and you are generally a happier person.
You also worked with Julian Dreyer on the latest record. How was it working with him? He’s done a lot of bluegrass/Americana stuff (even though he also has credits on your previous work), so what does he add to your blend of funk?
We have worked with Julian a bunch over the past few years, with multiple projects, including Booty Band, The Big Ol Nasty Getdown and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. He knows our band very well and is awesome to work with in the studio. We like his confidence in the studio. There is nothing he is not willing to try and there is no hesitation when we ask him to do something that we want. Put the Leslie in a different room, on a different floor – no problem. Change out the kick drum on every song – no problem. He doesn’t try to be a producer (as many studio engineers are known to do), but he gives us great feedback at just the right times. When we are in the studio with him, he is a part of our team and gets just as excited about the recordings as we do. He has watched us develop over the years and we have seen the same in him. It is always a pleasure working with him.
What’s your impression of Shepherdstown and The Opera House? I think you’ve played there before, so do you have any memories of it?
We like the intimate environment of the Opera House. It is like a large theatre, but scaled down in size. You can feel the history in the walls. Shepherdstown is a fun place. We have walked up and down the strip and enjoyed some of the bars and restaurants in town. Somewhere, I have a great picture of the infamous beer drinking cat, enjoying a frosty beverage at the bar down the street from the Opera House. Everyone seems very friendly in town and the folks at the Opera House are always a pleasure to work with.
What are some of your career’s favorite, most accomplished memories so far?
Performing in Alaska was pretty epic. It was such a beautiful place and the people there are awesome. Having members of Parliament-Funkadelic sit in with us on several occasions was definitely a highlight for me. They are the band that really got me into Funk, and it was an honor to have them join us on stage. Our many adventures in New Orleans have left us with some great memories (the ones we can remember) – haha! We have done a lot of activities on our days off while on tour. Everything from car bowling, to dog sledding, to hiking the narrows in Zion Canyon and waking up to the sunrise over the Grand Canyon. Tour can be tough sometimes, but the road has introduced us to many great people and allowed us to see and experience a bunch of awesomeness! If I had to do it over again, there is not much I would change.
Who were some of your biggest influences and why?
The Red Hot Chili Peppers album “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik” had a big impact on me. I still claim that as my favorite record of all time. Jimi Hendrix, The Black Crowes, Sly and the Family Stone, Jane’s Addiction, Snoop Dogg, Guns n Roses, George Clinton and P-Funk were all in constant rotation for me, as a teenager, and still are.
You guys get out on the road a bit. Where are some of your favorite places to play and why?
Hands down, my favorite place to play is New Orleans. Nothing else even comes close. Key West is also a lot of fun. Anywhere in California or Colorado is great, and we always get a lot of love in our hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.
Through all your travels so far, can you give us some names of some musicians/artists who we might not already know of, who we should keep an eye on?
One of my favorite bands that I like to listen to is Spoonfed Tribe. People’s Blues of Richmond is also in my CD player. As a matter of fact, most of the CDs (yes, I still listen to CDs) I have in my car are bands we have played with. Balkan Beat Box is awesome, if you have not heard of them yet. We got to do a show with them in Atlanta this year.
And finally, what can we expect from your set at the Opera House?
A hot and sweaty dance party!