This will be the third time I have written about my sister’s band, “Beebs and Her Moneymakers” and I suspect it won’t be the last.
The first time was to register the shock that I knew someone with that much talent and her own tight band. They play ska, they play rock, they play beautiful and beautifully arranged songs, but most impressive for me, they play incredible funk! Their first album/CD had just come out and — you know how you’d expect family to perform well, but like the best band in a talent show? This was not like that. This was professional, world-class stuff!
For a debut, the production values were great (I still don’t know how she managed that)! But, beyond the technical details, the music was unlike anything I had ever heard before. There were songs that were reggae/ska, psychedelic acid rock, and a song featuring flute, a sweet vocal by my sister, and an incredible poetry slam/rap bit — all in the same song! That was their first CD and my first review. (I only write when I feel I have to and after listening I had to.
We had a French exchange student living with us two summers ago and we went to see the band play their part in The Warped Tour. They rocked out and called attention to themselves among the bands on the tour. Apparently a part of the “Warped Roadies” TV show, we got interviewed. Our French student returned to France, happy to share the music there.
A little over a year ago, on my wife’s birthday, Beebs and the band played in New Haven, Connecticut, far from their native Florida. They kicked serious butt at Toad’s Place, a famous up-and-coming/ established band venue. Soon, I thought, if I didn’t know them, I wouldn’t be able to afford tickets. It was a great night for everyone there, and I got exposed to a great new song, “I’m Not Crazy”, and a cover version of “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus which bears as much resemblance to Miley’s version as Jose Feliciano’s version of “Light My Fire” does to The Doors’ version. Rocky, Funky, Jazzy, it’s everything Cyrus’ version isn’t. The video features John Stamos on the ball rather than young girl.
An album came out recently, “The Wurst Album Ever”, and I have seen and heard bits of it, but not had the whole thing yet. Sometime this Fall, the band hit #15 on the Reggae charts with “I’m Not Crazy”, I think it was the Jamaican charts! That’s like being on the playlist of a funk station in Memphis! I now know somebody who has a Top 40 hit, albeit on a specialized chart, but still…! And she’s in my family!. This would make our mother (who sang in nightclubs in Miami long before Michelle was born) very, very proud. Our great aunt Mary, who I don’t think she ever met, is forever on film in a Gene Autry comboy musical. Michelle carries on the tradition and I know Mom would have been proud.
(By the way, my mother loved the band when she was alive and was very close to the band members who used to congregate at our house or she would see at clubs. In addition to a natural affinity for music, our mother had a really sense about people, and this band is full of really nice folks. When they stayed at our house on their first Warped Tour, my daughters, our student, and my wife were all enchanted by them. They were wonderful guests and generally nice folks, who only showed off a little of their skills. That may not be a big thing in the music industry (or it may, I don’t know), but I have to think it’s a lot more fun to work with kind talented people than it is to work with just talented people.
Today, I received a link to a video of a Bruno Mars song covered by the band featured on YouTube. I never know where the band is going to come from musically, but they are on it once again. The song has a feminine swagger to it that makes it seem like it must have had male power written all over it. My daughters know the Bruno version, and have now seen and like Beebs and the bands’ version. What this reminds me of is Otis Redding writing “Respect” and Aretha owning it. With a new gender, it’s a new song.
What does the future hold for the band? I don’t know. Having lived in Los Angeles and Boston, I can tell you that “talent” does not necessarily equal “popular”. At the same time, “popular” doesn’t always mean “long-lasting”. There are many people in many bands that you have never heard of who are far better than the one hit wonders and factory-farmed boy/girl bands with electronic disco tracks behind them that appear on the radio. Solid musicians, however, last forever — in clubs, on CD, as well-respected studio musicians with connections to each other. Beebs and the band work hard enough and have enough of a groove that I suspect they’ll become “overnight sensations” after years of working out on the circuit.
In any case, Beebs, Lovelady, Bunky, Brisske, and E-Money are all extremely talented musicians and good people. As my sister doesn’t pick untalented musicians or have patience for jerks, I assume that means that Levon White is an incredible bass player. Certainly, the funk requires it. Electric guitar, ala Hendrix, funky horns ala the swingest jazz, rapid-fire and steady drum work by Brisske, and Sax work that would impress Boots Randolph (look it up), combined with Beebs’ know-how-to-pick-’em talent and the hard-working vocals by the lead singer, Beebs and Her Moneymakers are well worth a listen, a visit, a show and whatever else is out there.
Best of luck to them in 2015!