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Friday August 29th 2014

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The Funky Mothership Has Landed

By Brett Hutchins

Dancing in the sand can be a tough thing to do without the right band leading the way. Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band is headed to Pensacola Beach to do just that. Their six-piece horn-infused sound might leave your legs sore, but in the end it will be worth it. IN was able to chat with bassist Al Al Ingram the night before the band’s next big tour got underway.

IN: First things first – what’s with the name?
Ingram: We’ve made up tons of different stories over the years, but I’ll give you the real one. Two years before the band started, I worked in a head shop/porno store. It got extremely boring at times, so my coworker Dee and I made up a game. We would make up band names and then sing the theme song to the imaginary names. She went back to the porn closet, and when she came back, I could tell she had something special. Once she started singing the song, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was one of the best band names I’d ever heard.
Two years later, the band forms and I propose the name. It didn’t go over well at first, but I talked them into using it until we came up with something better. Here we are ten years later with the same exact name.

IN: You guys describe yourselves as “nu-funk”. What does that mean to you?
Ingram: We’ve been told by a lot of different funk stars – Belita Woods and Garry Shider (both of Parliament-Funkadelic), that we’re carrying the torch for them. With most funk bands, all you’re doing is covering older songs. People aren’t really making much new funk music, and if they do, it’s more of an imitation than anything. We try to take the best of the past and forge it with some modern energy.

IN: How has the Asheville music scene helped you guys throughout your time as a band?
Ingram: The band started out in Boone, North Carolina, but we’ve been in Asheville for about 7 years now. It’s an extremely active community that supports itself to the fullest. Our trombone player, Derrick Johnson, started a funk jam a few years ago that’s become a staple. Every Tuesday night, people come out from all types of different backgrounds to play. It’s not a competition – we just want to get together to play the best music possible.
Funk bands have a tendency to push around opening acts and other bands, but we avoid that. Everyone involved is there to make the best experience possible every night. Our job is just as important as the guy cleaning up the bar after the show.

IN: It’s been a couple years since Mary Frances joined the band. Can you talk about what she brings to the table that you guys didn’t previously have?
Ingram: She’s our first real deal keyboardist. She also has that female essence that brings the guys and the girls all together. Her presence is really strong on stage. A lot of girls look up to her. Once they’re at the show, they feel like they’re funk stars themselves. That’s another thing that’s unique with our band – we have a powerful female influence that rounds the whole thing out.

IN: Talk about life on the road for a hard-working band like Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band.
Ingram: It’s something that any band that really wants to do this has to understand. It is a hard life with a lot of sacrifices that people might not realize. You don’t have a normal social life. You don’t have your own bed. Eating on the road is tough to do without going the fast food route every single meal. Time away from family and friends can get exhausting.
You have to give it a shot, though. You have to get out there and build your fan-base, even if you run the risk of not getting paid. That belief in your music alone will sustain you through a lot shows.

IN: You’re currently touring with the New Orleans’ favorite the Revivalists, but the Pensacola Beach show is a headlining gig. Do you approach shows differently when you’re the main attraction?
Ingram: Not really. We’ll invite people up to jam with us if we’re doing a co-bill, but we try to approach every show the same way. If there are two people, two thousand people, or two hundred thousand people, you’re going to get the same Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band show, and it’s going to be a damn good time.

IN: That’s all I’ve got, Al. Anything else you’d like to add?
Ingram: We’re really excited about the show on the beach. Who doesn’t love that? If you want a preview, you can download our latest album, “Doin’ It Hard, on our website for however much you want to pay. Get it and spread it around!

YO MAMA’S BIG FAT BOOTY BAND
WHEN:  Sunday, July 1 8 p.m. Sunday, June 1
WHERE: Paradise Bar and Grill, 21 Via de Luna, Pensacola Beach
COST: Free
DETAILS: bootyband.com, www.paradisebar-grill.com