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  • Ed Schmieder

Whaley: We got that feeling…

Updated: Mar 19, 2023

I’ve got a feeling that we’ll get funky the night of Whaley’s performance. Why? – because we’ll be hearing the title song from their latest release Funky Tonight. And we will slip into the pocket of its groove. Whaley gets my vote for being the band most likely to get our audience up on its feet!

But the album Funky Tonight has other moves and will take audiences to other places than the dance floor. Local scene guitarist and song writer, Logan Whaley explained that the album had a long gestation. “Some of the songs were written as far back as 2014” and are just now making their recorded debut, he explained. When we think about an artist’s evolution over time and consider the transformational wild ride everyone has been on between 2014 and 2023, it’s not surprising that the songs are stylistically wide ranging. While it’s not a concept album or chronologically organized, as Logan and I spoke it struck me that it could be a documentary of sorts. Logan liked that notion.

The recording also shows the versatility of Whaley the band; they can readily switch styles and genres: from Jack Johnson reggae-tinged folk to near-disco synth beats, to Chic-like Nile Rodgers rhythms, to the horn blasts of classic jazz-rock, to Marley-mode, and jazz complete with guitar legato lines. Some of these guys have been playing together a long time, and all of have been playing a lot. Logan, Andrew Pomerantz, and Alex Kamm go back to their college days as jazz players, and newer members like Sean Hammond and local ubiquitous drummer Nick Balzano are rock steady. Their recording engineer and producer Daveer Mohan’s roots go back to Five Towns too.

Always curious about an artist’s process, I asked Logan about his. He said it usually begins with guitar in hand jamming on a progression, singling out promising sections, recording those on his iPhone, imagining a melody, deciding if the melody need words or will it be an instrumental. He noted that the song is never fully formed until it’s presented to the band; they jam and then their contributions further shape it.

I knew some of Logan’s history in the jam-band scene where instrumentals and extended improvisations are emphasized. So, I asked him if this latest record which features concise songs with lyrics (most clocking in at three to four minutes) was a conscious change in direction for him. He said that in the past his songs sometimes had lyrics, he was now interested in shorter form song-craft with words.

With history in mind, I asked Logan for his Long Island story. He was a Mineola kid with six siblings whose mom and dad took across the bay to Connecticut. In school he was both an athlete and musician, but when circumstances dictated, he chose one over the other; his guitar won out. He told me a magical story that helped solidify his choice. Logan did not pull a legendary sword from a stone, but when Logan was pondering pathways, his great uncle gave him an unexpected gift. Uncle Ron handed Logan a guitar case within which lay a 1947 Gibson L7 – a Jazz Box – guitar that belonged to Logan’s grandfather Frank. So, Frank and the muse of music conspired to seal Logan’s fate. Not surprising then that he pursued both guitar and jazz at 18 returning to Long Island at Five Towns College.

The past behind, the deal sealed, Whaley is looking forward to a regional tour that will kick-off this April. Thirteen dates scattered across Rhode Island, Connecticut, upstate New York, and finishing in Manhattan at Rockwood Music Hall. The great tie-dye-blue whale Whaley will soon be sounding at venues north and west.

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