“It’s all about love, making a difference and giving people some small morsel of happiness” said RHYTHMM EPKINS AKA DR. FUNK
“It’s an honor having the DR. FUNK MIND BODY & SOUL BAND as part of the Iluustra Distribution Roster” said Len Green
He recalls one particular instance with audible delight. “I saw a lady one time at the supermarket, and she had bought my EP,” he says. She stopped him to tell him she was a fan, but one song in particular had become a bonding ritual for her family. “Every time I’m cleaning my house, my kids start to act crazy because they don’t think I’m paying attention. What I do now, is I put on “Friends Before Lovers,” and we all start dancing and laughing and singing — and I’m cleaning! And for whatever reason they just calm down.”
“Music is a light that can shine anywhere,” he says. “I don’t care where you are, you could be in the trenches, on the front line of war, and at night, when the bullets start flying, what do people do? They listen to music to give them a little hope.”
And there are few more qualified than the multi-instrumentalist Epkins to shine that kind of light. This man was destined to be a performer, almost from birth. His mother, a gospel singer, would tote the young Epkins to church for nightly practices where the boy would fall asleep under the piano, absorbing the harmonies of his mother’s choir. He excelled at music early on, showing his knack for melody on a pre-school flutophone before spending his school years learning piano, drums, bass and cello on a series of instruments bought by his mother or borrowed from friends. “I was into singing and imitating people like the Temptations and Ray Charles, Al Green,” he remembers, “whoever was on the radio.”
At their house in Queens, Epkins’ stepfather outfitted the basement into a private nightclub, and Epkins got his first taste of the spotlight when he’d play along to the grown-ups’ records at parties. As a high school freshman, he broke curfew to play his first city gig, and ended the inevitable argument with mom when he produced a wad of $150. That was only the beginning.
Despite a raised eyebrow from his stepfather, Epkins was a teenage regular at gigs throughout New York, playing keyboards, drums or bass, and signing. “I couldn’t go out near the bar because I was too young,” he remembers. “I would sit in the back and do my homework, eat licorice, and wait until it was time to go on.”
Touring life began soon after, with a national run in a dozen-piece band of teen prodigies. It was a road-life boot camp that traveled from New York to Colorado, to California and back. A short stint at St. Johns University only proved what that first tour had promised: Rhythmm Epkins was destined for the life of a traveling musician. And ever since, Epkins has been a tenacious touring player, playing across the globe, most recently as the drummer for the undying two-tone innovators The English Beat.
But Mind, Body & Soul is the labor of love, a culmination of decades of veteran chops and a tribute to the sounds of his youth: Teddy Pendergrass, Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire, Sly & The Family Stone. The ever-relevant vintage soul and funk sounds that have granted second-wind careers to Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley are, for Epkins, a universal language.
“I don’t care where you go, or how old the people are or how young they are, when they hear soul music, funk, people get happy,” he says. “That’s what I’m paying homage to. We’re trying to keep R&B, funk, dance music alive, keep it organic.”
It’s in this effort that the band is preparing its proper debut, a full-length album called Love Is.
Flanked by his partner in crime, guitarist Power Morcillo, Epkins leads an agile and ambitious ensemble through an album peppered with a variety of upbeat funk tunes, soul scorchers, smooth ballads and Latin flair, the album should serve as a bold entrance for the band. It’s a loving tribute to musical icons and universal appeal, but also a personal testament to the love of friends and family. Two loved ones who passed before the album’s completion — Epkins’ mother and Mind, Body & Soul percussionist Freddie G. — cast their shadows on this record.
That’s the thing, though. Life is never easy, but through hardship comes strength. And with Mind, Body & Soul, Rhythmm Epkins finds his motivation. This is a celebration of life.
DR. FUNK MIND BODY & SOUL BAND-epk: www.wayoutsound.com/Epkins
DR. FUNK MIND BODY & SOUL BAND-website: WWW.MINDBODYSOULBAND.COM
About Dr. Funk Mind Body & Soul Band
Rhythmm Epkins is the force behind Dr. Funk’s Mind Body & Soul Band, as the vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and manager. I read the day after the show that Rhythmm had learned that his father passed away just before taking the stage… I’m amazed at how he was able to perform without any sign of reacting to this news, and can’t imagine how he was able to manage all of those emotions. Remarkable. I’ve seen him perform with the English Beat as their drummer in the past, and was really impressed with how skilled he is musically. With Rhythmm on vocals, bass and keyboards, Power Morcillo added tremendous sound on guitar as they blazed through song after song. A sort of headliner before the other headliners, their set would have been worth turning out for on its own – definitely a great act to catch should you ever have the opportunity.”
DR. FUNK MIND BODY & SOUL BAND, created by former English Beat drummer and vocalist, Rhythmm Epkins, has been providing the funk-dance vibe to venues across the US since the band started in 2008 and leaves no one disappointed.
Company Name: Illustra Records & Distribution
Contact Person: Leonard Green
Phone: 1 (877) 588-7111
Country: United States