There is an undeniable sweetness to a lot of the music on “Honey Bun,” the luscious new album from Miami-based alt-Latino band Elastic Bond being released Friday on Nacional Records.
The title track, highlighted by lyricist Sofy Encanto’s silky, Donna Summer-style vocal, is a layer cake of flickering disco-era guitar in the Nile Rodgers-Chic mode laced with synth and bass grooves that is at once warmly nostalgic and funky fresh. The synapses in your brain that tingle while listening to recent retro reclamations by producer Mark Ronson (“Uptown Funk”) and Bruno Mars (“24 Karat Magic”) should quiver here.
“The music had a rootsier sound, but at the end we’re kind of funky and groovy,” says Elastic Bond multi-instrumentalist and producer Andres Ponce, a native of Venezuela whose tastes run from ‘60s and ‘70s soul and Blue Note jazz artists to the global funk of Los Amigos Invisibles.
Elastic Bond, with guitarist Buffalo Brown and trumpeter player David Burgos, will celebrate the album with a release party on Thursday, Feb. 23, at Canvas Miami.
Elastic Bond also is scheduled to perform during the 2017 edition of the Virginia Key Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance, which runs Wednesday-Feb. 26 at Virginia Key Beach Park and five satellite stages around Miami and Miami Beach. Also on the bill will be Locos Por Juana, Donna the Buffalo, Afrobeta, Telekinetic Walrus, Juke, Bill Kelly, Nag Champyons, Electric Piquete and many others. For more information, visit VirginiaKeyGrassroots.com.
Ponce credits Austin-based producer Adrian Quesada, who spent several years touring with Prince, for giving the guitar and bass the essential boogie-ness sprinkled throughout “Honey Bun,” especially on songs such as “Alone Together” and “Eclipse Total.”
Encanto comes to these songs with vivid memories of listening to her dad’s Gloria Gaynor records as a child in Honduras, and she may be one of the few people who can tell you the title of the one hit by disco-era one-hit wonder Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band (“Cherchez la Femme”). But she has studied widely, with careful attention paid to such singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse.
“We listen to a lot of old music,” Encanto says.
And that’s where things get interesting: On the torchy “Into You,” a twangy slice of ‘60s rock, Encanto is all Ronnie Spector, while on “What’s Inside” she channels soulful, Grace Slick psychedelia.
Encanto’s natural vocal skills are rendered with few modern effects, adding to the purity and authenticity of the retro sound.
“We wanted it to be a sincere album, human,” says Ponce, who worked in the music business in Venezuela and studied at the University of Colorado. “She has such a great voice. It was a conscious decision to not do any plugging, manipulation with her voice. Just a little bit of reverb and echo, and that’s it.”
“If it’s done right, and not pretentiously, it’s great,” Encanto says.
“Honey Bun” is not without nods to modernity, with guest appearances by Colombian MC Ephniko on the street-sexy “Un Lugar” and Venezuelan reggae singer Onechot on the sunny ballad “Quedate.”
One of the best moments on the album is its final fade-out, just over a minute long, titled “Keep It Alive.” Over a modern, lounge-y synth groove comes the voices of a crowd at a Sunday-afternoon baseball game that Encanto and Ponce recorded at Claude Pepper Park, near their Biscayne Gardens home.
It is the sound of life being lived in a neighborhood of black and Hispanic residents, with laughs and exhortations and a final cheer: “Y’all keep it alive, baby!” One can’t help be reminded of the opening of the 1971 classic “What’s Going On,” by a certain soul-music icon.
“Marvin Gaye. I sucked the crap out of those records,” Encanto says, laughing.
For more information on the band and the album, visit Facebook.com/TheElasticBond.
The annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival returns to Peacock Park Saturday-Monday with Austin imports the Greyhounds supported by a strong lineup of local bands. Saturday performers include Palo! (1 p.m.), Suenalo (2:15 p.m.), Arthur Hanlon (3:30 p.m.) and Locos Por Juana (4:45 p.m.), with Sunday highlights including Jorge Luis Chacin (noon), Bobby Lee Rodgers (1 p.m.), Patrick and the Swayzees (2:15 p.m.), Roosevelt Collier (3:15 p.m.) and the Greyhounds (5 p.m.), followed Monday by the Eric Vick Band (12:30 p.m.), the GoodNites (1:45 p.m.), SunGhosts (2:45 p.m.) and Electric Kif (4 p.m.). Admission: $15. Info: CoconutGroveArtsFest.com.
The Damn Glad To Party With You Festival is 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday with a long list of local bands, artists and craft vendors set up on North L Street outside CWS Bar + Kitchen in downtown Lake Worth. The no-cover, all-ages event will include performances by the Resolvers, Uproot Hootenanny, Mike Mineo, Alex Di Leo, Franscene and Scott Becker, aided by DJs Layne Fox and Kent Lawler. You can begin the day with brunch at CWS with reservations beginning at 11 a.m. Info: Facebook.com/CWSLW.
The Unplugged concerts at Artwalk Coral Springs on Saturday will bring performances by popular South Florida bands SOSOS (6-7:30 p.m.) and the Gravel Kings (8:30-10 p.m.), joined by CoverUp (7:30-8:30 p.m.) on the stage at 9405 NW 31 Court. ArtWalk Coral Springs also includes wine and craft beer (thanks, Funky Buddha), food trucks and games from 6 to 10 p.m. Admission to the 21-and-older event is free. Info: CoralSprings.org.
WAVES OF REGGAE
The second annual Kulcha Shok Surf & Muzik Fest returns to the south side of the Pompano Beach Pier on Saturday, with competition in surfing, skimming and stand-up paddle boards beginning at 7 a.m. There will be free live music on the beach all day, highlighted by ukulele-reggae singer JohnLee and Mike Maytin and Tasty Vibrations. Info: KulchaShok.com.
MORE SMOKIN’ SOUNDS
One of the best moments of the monthly downtown Hollywood Art Walk is during the sidewalk performance by Eddy Balzola and Oriente in front of Cuenca Cigars (1928 Harrison St.), where you can have a glass of wine with your Afro-Cuban jazz. Music starts at 7 p.m. Saturday. Info: OrienteBand.com, Facebook.com/Cuenca.Cigars.Hollywood.
The relatively new downtown Fort Lauderdale music venue Cash Only scores big-time with a performance by influential MC Talib Kweli on Saturday night. The Brooklyn-based lyricist and social activist will be joined by resident hosts Donnie Lowe and DJ Immortal. Tickets: $10. Doors open at 9 p.m. Info: Facebook.com/CashOnlyFTL.
On Friday, Bangin' Banjo Brewing in Pompano Beach will break out its small-batch Cows Gone Coconuts, a coconut-chocolate version of the brewery’s Moodoo Voodoo Milk Stout. They’ll start pouring at 2 p.m., and you’ll be able to pair it with the awesomeness that is T.C. Melts’ creative grilled-cheese sandwiches. Info: Facebook.com/BanginBanjoBrewing.
The Delray Beach Open tennis tournament runs Friday-Feb. 26, and beyond tennis stars such as Milos Raonic, Juan Martin Del Potro, James Blake, Mardy Fish and the Bryan Brothers, this event is always good for some well-chosen live music. This year, the music on the main stage in the Courtyard Plaza will be hosted by Delray Beach scene shaper Ian Caven and include performances by locals including Rocket to Anywhere, Spider Cherry, the Holidazed, Shanna Lee and 86, J Savvy and others. Tickets for the matches start at $25.25. Info: YellowTennisBall.com.
Monday brunch? Thanks, Mr. Washington and Mr. Lincoln! Tap 42 in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables will offer Presidents Day Brunch on Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when you’ll find all your favorites, from the Chicago-Style Steak and Eggs and the White Chocolate Strawberry Pancakes to the Prohibition Burger and the Drunken Goat. Oh, and the bottomless mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and Funky Buddha Floridian ($20). Info: Tap42.com.
“Carmen Jones” is a reimagining of Georges Bizet's opera “Carmen” set at a military base in the American South, with an all-star cast that included Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Dandridge, Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll. It was a rarity on its release in 1954: a mainstream Hollywood movie with an all-black cast. Director Otto Preminger later wrote, “This was really a fantasy, as was ‘Porgy and Bess.’ The all-black world shown in these films doesn't exist, at least not in the United States. We used the musical-fantasy quality to convey something of the needs and aspirations of colored people.” Screening as part of the Kravis Center’s African-American Film Festival, “Carmen Jones” will screen at 7 p.m. Monday in the venue’s Rinker Playhouse. Tickets: $10. Info: Kravis.org.
WEEKEND BEER II
A gift for the relatives up north, perhaps? The Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park will host a bottle-release party for its popular coffee-coconut porter, Last Snow, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. You’ll find the beer on tap and in 22-ounce bottles (limit six per person). Info: FunkyBuddhaBrewery.com.
OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
Deerfield Beach grunge trio Narvee will play a release party for the album “Harvest” 7 p.m. Friday at Radio-Active Records in Fort Lauderdale (Narvee.Bandcamp.com, Facebook.com/RadioActiveRecords) … West Palm Beach-based singer-songwriter Micah Scott has a busy weekend with shows 5 p.m. Friday at Two Georges Waterfront Grill in Boynton Beach, 10:30 p.m. Friday at Dada in Delray Beach and 8 p.m. Saturday at Bangin' Banjo Brewing Co. in Pompano Beach (MicahScottProject.com) ... School of Rock Coral Springs plays the Pompano Pier Food Truck Round Up 6 p.m. Friday at the Pompano Beach Pier (Facebook.com/SoRCsHouseBand) … Fort Lauderdale roots-rock trio Dirt Poor Millionaire plays at LauderAle 8 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/DirtPoorMillionaire) … Miami rumba punks Askultura will show off music from their new album, “The Marinara Mixtapes, Vol. 1,” at Propaganda in Lake Worth 8 p.m. Saturday, joined by the Goddamn Hustle, the Sensibles, Milk Spot and the No Name Ska Band (Facebook.com/ASKUaskultura) … The Zoo Peculiar will throw a no-cover release party for the album “Lo and Behold!” 9 p.m. Saturday at Fort Lauderdale’s Poorhouse, joined by Killmama and Denudes (Facebook.com/ZooPeculiar) … The Smokin' Aces play the Briny Irish Pub in Pompano Beach 9:30 p.m. Saturday (Facebook.com/TheSmokinAces) … Joel DaSilva and the Midnight Howl bring rockabilly swagger to Gramps in Miami 2 p.m. Sunday on a bill with Milk Spot, FTMF and Peyote Coyote (Facebook.com/JDAndTheHowl).