Hot Politics wind down frantic performance schedule

by Ryan Snyder

If there’s anything that a funk musician can learn from James Brown (and there are a few things), it’s that it takes just a little bit more work to be successful playing funk music than with other musical genera. The Godfather himself earned the title

“Hardest Working Man in Show Business” by maintaining both a grueling performance schedule and an austere devotion to performance perfection which is still infamous among music circles, even after his death. It’s a tough row to hoe out there for students of funk, especially considering the microscopic amount of mainstream attention the genre. Since R&B helped push the groove-heavy sound with searing brass complement out of heavy radio rotation, it’s up to bands like Greensboro’s Hot Politics ( to keep it alive on the dance floors. Like Brown, Hot Politics knows a thing or two about the necessity of hard work in the funk business. The band got its start through open jams in a carpet warehouse where bassist Jeff Hindson worked. Musicians of all disciplines would show up to play and while many would stop attending. Those that stuck became the foundation for the band. Since that formation in 2006, the band has played relentlessly to crowds looking for something… well, funky with which to get down. Despite each of the five members holding down regular jobs, the band has still found time to play multiple times per week since early in 2008. Still, inspiration doesn’t come easily and they’ve decided that it might be time to take it light for a short time until the creative bug can bite. “We’re really going to focus on writing new music,” said drummer/percussionist Kyle Poehling. “We’ve been hitting the venues hard and playing on a regular basis, but it’s hard to be creative and allow the art to develop if you don’t take a little bit of a break.” The effort that Hot Politics has put into its work hasn’t gone without its rewards, either. “The amount of shows we’ve played has been a great thing and we have really tightened up the band as a unit that way,” said euphonium player Jason Bullock. “But we’re still trying to revamp our approach to how consistently we play, the venues we play and our approach to playing.” Hindson says that the band is still working to enhance their grassroots following, though he also agrees that an enhanced musical catalog is a necessity to do so. The band currently has only a seven-track EP to its credit, aptly-titled Get Loose, which Hindson actually refers to as a “glorified demo.” “Everyone had a handful of songs that they came with and that eventually became Get Loose,” Hindson added. “That material was written over the last couple of years, so we’re still experimenting with new sounds.” Bullock hinted that the sound the band is working on may begin to feature lyrical work a bit more heavily than before. The band perceives itself as primarily an instrumental unit, but Bullock feels that local crowds respond very favorably to compositions that feature guitarist Tommy Scrifes on vocals. “If we’ve got a bar crowd with Top-40 tastes, they usually will want words with the music,” Bullock stated. There are, however, venues where the band feels that their music is very well received, regardless of whether the focus is vocal or instrumental. Their first live performance as a unit came at the Blind Tiger opening for the Dickens and though they weren’t actually paid, there was an instant connection between the band and the crowd. “We had only been together for a month and only had seven songs at that time,” Bullock said. “But people come in there with the expectation to listen to music and we felt good about it afterwards.” The band will be performing three more shows in North Carolina before the New Year, including an opening spot for the Mantras on Dec. 30 at the Blind Tiger.