Mo’Fone’s "Rock of Ages," a song on the band’s new album, "Sling Shot," affected me as much as any song I’ve heard in a long time. As the son of aging parents, I can relate to the feelings drummer Jeremy Steinkoler must have had when he wrote it for his father, who died in 2002 — I almost lost my mother on Christmas Day a few years ago.
"Rock of Ages" starts as a New Orleans-style dirge, but a couple minutes into the song, it turns into a joyous celebration. Steinkoler’s drum solo is especially energetic, uplifting even, but there’s also a sense of melancholy. It’s a song I’d like played at my own funeral.
The rest of the album is just as funky as the band’s debut album, "Surf’s Up," and that’s good news indeed. In fact, the album’s a flat-out party. Steinkoler sets the groove and bandmates Larry De La Cruz (on alto saxophone and clarinet) and Jim Peterson (on baritone saxophone, bass clarinet and alto saxophone) spice it up. Special guests Dave Ellis and and Dann Zinn on tenor saxophone and Kirk Joseph on sousaphone heat things up, too.
"Crescent," a tune Peterson wrote after trips to New Orleans with his father and his wife, is particularly saucy. Imagine a musical summit between the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and James Browns’ Famous Flames and you get the idea.
I love "Kattywampus," too. It reminds me a little of an amped-up version of Little Willie John’s "Fever." And what could be better than that?
Steinkoler’s "Bee" is a lovely bookend to the album. In the liner notes, he says it’s a composition inspired by a mediation on what it means to be a father. The fact that I don’t have children doesn’t keep me from empathizing with the message…or from smiling.