That finally changed in the fall of 2019 with the formation of the Radioactives: a funk band where I am actually not the guitar player, but for the first time ever in my musical travels, the funky bass player.
Radioactives on YouTube
Radioactives on Facebook
We got together at my kids’ school, Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, where our music teacher is named Madame Kuhry (pronounced like Curie...get it?). After Mme Kuhry, an excellent keyboardist and vocalist, arrived at school, I realized that there were quite a few excellent musicians amongst the ranks of teachers and parents. And I remembered that a band does not have to conquer the world or write life-changing songs—it can just be fun. So I invited some of these excellent musicians to get together and play some classic funk tunes with me—just for giggles, no big whoop—and to my surprise and delight, they all accepted.
Fast forward nearly four years, and we have indeed had a lot of fun (and plenty of giggles) playing soulful tunes—from Stevie Wonder to Jamiroquai to Adele—at a number of school shindigs, plus one very cool gig at the Cowell Theater in SF last year. And there are Radioactives originals on the way (stay tuned for some sneak-peek demos).
If you go way back with me, you know that playing electric guitar, preferably in a band, is my bread and butter. From age 13 through 26, I was rarely without a band, culminating in Stand Up Eight. That was a good band, and sort of ruined me for playing in any other band. After we amicably dissolved in 2004, the closest I came for the next fifteen years was playing with Zac in Duo Symphonious.
As far as the funky bass goes: four years in, I think I might finally be getting the hang of it. But let me know what you think: check out my post on collaborations with Radioactives singer Will Hammond, Jr.
Composer Michael T Roberts shares his thoughts on writing, playing, and teaching music. Comments? Please e-mail Mike.