MUSIC BOX: Funky Hoofers

By on December 22, 2015

Rhythmic Circus’ tap dancers, brass band and beatboxer all take on the Center.

Left: Rhythmic Circus transforms the Center Theater into a funkshun on Monday. Right: Fox Street celebrates the life of Chad Kreft Saturday at the Tavern.

Left: Rhythmic Circus transforms the Center Theater into a funkshun on Monday. Right: Fox Street celebrates the life of Chad Kreft Saturday at the Tavern.

Jackson, WY – Spirited tap dance and brass band funk are rarely mentioned in the same context. Add another curveball that is a human beatbox and you have Minneapolis’s Rhythmic Circus, performing “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!” The act combines two entities that have been touring since 2008 — four rapid-fire tap dancers backed by the seven-piece band Root City that unleashes funk, hip-hop, salsa, Latin jazz and soul.

The dancers — Ricci Milan, Nick Bowman, Kaleena Miller and Galen Higgins — maintain a vibe that is more rock ’n’ roll than it is precision, constantly upping the ante in a friendly, competitive manner that often sends the foot tempos into human-challenging dimensions. Double timing — even triple timing— the feet beats to the floor over groove-based funk music is an interesting mash and so are their respective dance styles. Bowman and Miller prefer old-school tap dating back to the film musicals of the 1930s and ’40s, Milan is the percussive hip-hopper, and Higgins is a whirling puppet of physical abandon.

“It’s all genres of music, really a musical mash-up,” Bowman told South Bend Tribune recently. “People put us in the box of a dance show too often. It’s really a music concert. It’s just as much about the music as it is about the dance. But at the same time, we’re not afraid to throw in a flashy tap combo or do the moonwalk. It’s not all percussive all the time, and the dance form we take very seriously.”

What’s impressive is that 100 percent of the pieces performed are original and written for this particular show. Seeds for composition come from each end of the spectrum, making for a brand new form of co-writing.

“Some started with a music idea and some started with a tap-dancing concept, and we built a song around that,” explained Bowman. “There was a variety of different ways we created the pieces. We focus on the music, but we’re not afraid to entertain.”

As for Aaron “Heatbox” Heaton, the human beatbox, he’ll add a clang, riff or refrain as an instrumental texture, but he’s also featured as a one-man phenom. Using a digital looping device, he builds a groove layered with sounds that you didn’t realize could be created with the human voice — a true on-the-spot composition built as a track-by-track foundation before breaking out into a solo over his own creation.

An extravaganza for the entire family, take advantage of this singular act that is breaking the mold.

Rhythmic Circus: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now!, 7 p.m., Monday at the Center Theater. $55-$71. JHCenterForTheArts.org, 733-4900.

A Night for Chad Kreft, KHOL 89.1

Denver-based, seven-piece band Fox Street will lead the charge in celebrating the life of KHOL deejay Chad Kreft, who passed away in his Jackson home last month. Kreft, a history buff from Colorado, hosted the show “A/B Side Story” and was an expert on funk music. All proceeds from the concert will benefit the community radio station KHOL.

Fox Street (which recently dropped “Allstars” from its name) could be classified as post-jam band, though there’s more to the story when fusing honky-tonk with soul, blues and funk. Hands down, the band has grown into one of the most respected and hard-working acts out of the Front Range. This is a band that brings the party, especially when you bring yours as well.

Fox Street plays A/B Side Story, 10:30 p.m., Saturday at Town Square Tavern. $10 in advance at Tavern Liquor Store or at the door. 733-3886. PJH

Aaron Davis is a songwriting troubadour, multi-instrumentalist, founding member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, and host of Songwriter’s Alley.

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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