Rock & Roll Voodoo Queen

FunkyJenn-HeaderRock & Roll Voodoo Queen

Funkyjenn and the Fringe Benefits

By Gerry Gomez
Staff Writer

Jennifer Gibbons’ strong soulful vocals front Funkyjenn and the Fringe Benefits on the debut six-song romp Rock & Roll Voodoo Queen. With producers/collaborators John Schreffler Jr. and Ted Russell Kamp, Funkyjenn and the Fringe Benefits cruise through rock n’ soul, country, and funk with powerful vocals, tight arrangements and tasteful musicianship in tow. Their songs share the same sweetspot with the likes of Delany & Bonnie, The Black Crowes, Little Feat, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, and good ‘ol Southern soul.

1378966496_RRVQ_COVER_Jennifer Gibbons, aka, Funkyjenn, is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, scenester and bon vivant. Having grown up in a musical, performing family, Gibbons was surrounded by showtunes, opera, classical and a smorgasborg of 70’s radio which contributes to her soulful pipes and overall musical inspiration.

The musical direction and vision is glued together very capably by the Fringe Benefits (Schreffler Jr., Ted Russell Kamp and Dan Wistrom) who contribute a rich musical palette to the project. Collectively, they are a chugging rock and soul machine that harkens back to the days of “American Bandstand” where the juke box would be filled with rock goddesses, pop princesses, AM-70 kings and soul queens. A perfect fabric that Funkyjenn weaves with the help of her pals.

“Shoulda Been My Lover” kicks of the offering with some chunky guitar swagger which permeates throughout the whole disc. Funkyjenn isn’t afraid to let it hang out. With a cool looseness Gibbons hits all the right elements of good-time partying Stonesy vibe paired with her Bonnie Bramlett like funkyness in which those influences flavor her sound adding up to an infectious pairing of rock and soul, or in this case rocking guitars and soulful singing.

Focusing on tight production and memorable hooks, “Nashville, TN” is a rollicking burner that shifts into gear like a freight train rolling down the highway. It’s the twangyist of the songs on the EP about a man who’s gone but not deterring Gibbons spirit. The boogie gets one off their feet with the funky soul that’s Funkyjenn’s strong suit.

The beautiful soulful “Butterflies Bleed” oozes that Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight classic soul vibe that’s only attempted nowadays by few in the roots world (perhaps the Alabama Shakes?), possibly because of the lack of credibility and will to do the form justice – taking a true R&B song and not over producing it, but letting it breathe and have the vocalist’s soul carry the tune. When done well, you know it because your hairs stand on end. Such is the case with Gibbons here.

“Rock And Roll Voodoo Queen” pays homage to the mystical nature of Gibbons and her heroines growing up. The Ted Russell Kamp penned tune lures out the most powerful vocal performance on the disc with thick layers of instrumentation leaving the listener transported to another place and groovy dimension. Funkyjenn & The Fringe Benefits perform in and around Los Angeles.

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It’s Gonzo Journalism meets Outlaw Country as TJ Music Magazine – Turnstyled, Junkpiled shakes things up in the Sin City and beyond. “Waiting for the day when they stop calling it Americana and start calling it Country again.”
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