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Wednesday, March 5, 2008 01:39 pm

Hope is on the way

Popular funk-acoustic band plays Marly’s on Saturday

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I once heard that mean old talk-show host Dr. Laura say, “Hope is not a good strategy.” I’ve never given much credence to anything that crotchety giver of advice had to say, though, and neither should you. Hope is a fine thing, especially when we’re talking about the band 56 Hope Road.
The group is a marvel to behold. They are constantly on the road, playing festivals, bars, and clubs and delighting audiences with their snappy tunes and catchy cadences. The band name comes from Bob Marley’s home address in Jamaica, and the members of the band draw inspiration from the positive influence of the Rastafarian’s songs, calling for a better world through music and movement, action, and belief.
Our local connection to 56 Hope Road is Greg Fundis, Springfield native and drummer extraordinaire. Fundis now lives in Chicago but spends most of his time on the road with the band, laying down the most fabulous grooves imaginable. He seems to get your body going before the mind has a chance to understand the lyrical message the group is conveying, but that’s OK: It’s nice to be dancing along to the beat and then start listening and going, “Wow! This makes me feel good!” The wonderful recipe that the band has created incorporates a dose of strong, heartfelt music and a positive, uplifting message that sends goodness straight to the soul, adding a sparkle to life and surely bound to increase your happiness quotient by a big bunch. If you don’t believe me, go the band’s MySpace page and read the comments of others. One after another they praise the good feelings the band inspires. What better gift to the world is there? The group, founded in 1999, consists of Fundis, vocalist/guitarist Dave Hamilton, vocalist/pianist Tim Reid Jr., upright bassist Chad Sanders, and saxophonist Casey Fitzpatrick. They are often joined by vocalist Anne Katzfey and percussionist Matt Katzfey, as well as various soloists. At the beginning of the year the acoustic-rocking quintet released Law of Attraction, their fourth full-length studio effort. Self-produced, with co-production by Rick Barnes (Smashing Pumpkins, Liquid Soul), the recording explodes with grooves and melody, offering lyrical journeys and musical interludes to entertain, engulf, and enliven. The signature pulsating energy of the funk-acoustic blend remains, but extra instrumentation and maturity of songwriting add a new depth to the band’s work. Hamilton, the founding father of the group, is also the principal songwriter, but all members contribute on the record. This is the third consecutive calendar year in which 56 Hope Road has played more than 200 live shows, and the band comes through town fairly frequently. If you’ve seen one of those shows, you know what I’m talking about and you’ll be there for the next one. If not, it’s high time you got some 56 Hope Road in your life.

56 Hope Road takes the stage at Marly’s Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, 217-522-2280) around 10 p.m. Saturday, March 8. 

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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