We've really got to thank filmmaker Mark Landsman. Not only did his 2010 documentary Thunder Soul put the story of Houston's legendary Kashmere Stage Band on to the silver screen, but it also helped revive the band itself.
After reforming with a handful of Kashmere High School alumni and students to promote the film at festivals and other events two years ago, the mighty KSB is now having too much fun to quit. You can catch the former teen titans of jazz/funk Saturday night at Fitzgerald's, and you should.
While Landsman has helped greatly to spread the story of Dr. Conrad "Prof" Johnson's musical vision and legacy, the songs that spawned a thousand breaks remain largely unknown to many, even in the Kashmere Gardens 'hood that spawned the soul nearly 40 years ago. Luckily, crate-digging isn't dead yet.
Because the late, great Prof believed so strongly in education, Rocks Off has here assembled a septet of essential Kashmere Stage Band cuts to help educate our readers on the high-schoolers' indelible impact on funk soul and hip-hop.
The quiz begins as soon as the bell rings at Fitz on Saturday.
7. "Thunder Soul"
The term "thunder soul" describes the Kashmere Stage Band just as perfectly as can be. That power blowing out of that big brass section can't be faked. Thirty-eight years later, it's still stunning that these solos are coming from high-school kids.
6. "Super Strut Pt. 1"
The drumming that opens and closes "Super Strut Pt. 1" is the kind of beat that helped make KSB an essential piece of wax in any B-boy's record collection. A funky guitar solo provides the Kangol hat on top of this fat gold rope of brass and snare.
5. "The Zero Point"
If this song can't get you dancin' in your seat, Kashmere Stage Band probably just ain't for you. In addition to some pretty fantastic horn runs, the students got to put their voices on wax for this track. Three decades later, we're still talkin' 'bout the Zero Point.
4. "$$ Kash Register $$"
Cha-ching! Now this is the sound of top-notch Texas funk. The wah-wah pedal, the slap bass, and the unstoppable hi-hat roll out the perfect strutting pace for the smoothest high-school horns you're ever likely to hear. This track is money, indeed.
3. "Super Bad"
As you can hear in the video above, "Super Bad" provides a big, energetic platform for any number of terrific solos. When you're blessed with an embarrassment of talent, it's kind of hard not to show it off. Particularly when you're 16 years old.
2. "All Praises"
"All Praises" is another uptempo showstopper scientifically formulated to move your body. The title might sound like gospel music, but you won't find this tune in any hymnal. Nevertheless, there's no denying that the Kashmere Stage Band has been filled with the spirit on this one.
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A nimble bass line and streetwise drum breaks are the hallmarks of the band's namesake tune. It's the perfect blend of funk, soul and big band punctuated by trumpet and trombone blasts. "Kashmere" is the real deal, and there's a good chance we'll hear it again on Saturday.