Funk and soul - the secret undercurrent to Bristol music?
Funk and soul is now synonymous with radio personalities like Craig Charles and long-running nights like Soul Train (in Bristol). While its roots are deep, there was a period in the 90s when soul ran freely through the city via trip-hoppers Massive Attack who combined a soulful edge with current, to the minute electronic production. The more tortured soulful grooves of Tricky were like a bleak West Country version of neo-soul acts like Erykah Badu. While these acts rarely get called soul, their debt to 70s funk and soul legends like Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown and Bootsy Collins is undeniable.
Live Funk in Bristol
Funk isn't huge in Bristol but there are still some good funk bands playing regular gigs, even if the market is slightly smaller than it used to be. Quality hammond led jazz-funk jams can often be found at the Golden Lion on Gloucester road. For faster more sweaty funk gigs, keep and eye on what's on at the Mr Wolfs in Bristol city centre.
Live Soul in Bristol
In the early 2000's there was a much needed soul revival in the UK. At the core of this revival was Brighton and in particular it's Tru-Thoughts record label. Artists like Alice Russell and Belleruche ventured into 'nu-soul', while bands like the Quantic Soul Orchestra revisited raw early funk. While the albums made during this period were nothing hugely special, the performances that came with them were a welcome return of quality and engaging soul music. Being an important city in the UK's live music scene, Bristol and it's venues were (and still are) a key tour-stop for modern soul gigs.
Whilst the revival is not as strong as it was, there are still some consistent soul and funk venues in Bristol to check whats on. Metropolis is the new home of Tru-thoughts / Stones Throw / Freestyle Recs type tours, with recent (2010) Bristol events including Belleruche, Speedometer and The Bamboos. The 02 Academy, Colston Hall and the Bristol Thekla are Bristol's main venues for bigger name musicians or comeback tours for legendary Motown and soul singers. It's also worth checking the Start the Bus listings, they seem to have a great ability of booking upcoming talent before it hits the big time. While not strictly soul or funk, the venue has hosted some great cross over artists including Little Dragon and The Apples.
The Park Bar in Clifton with it's Hot Buttered Soul nights is also worth looking into.
If you're looking for disco clubnights in Bristol check the mainstream city centre venues (which we don't list on this website).