In these uncertain times, a little certainty – a little reliability – is a welcome respite for cool heads seeking hot entertainment. Last friday night at Constitution Yards on the Wilmington waterfront delivered just the right recipe with What the Funk cooking up their unique style of musical convection. Led by seasoned members of a veritable arsenal of veteran bands, heads were bobbing, toes were tapping, and rumps were bumping – even if their safety-minded owners never left their seats. Combining classic funk elements from acts such as Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power, Billy Preston, Sly and the Family Stone, Average White Band, Earth, Wind and Fire and more, What the Funk does more than just lay down the nasty grooves. Fronted by the effervescent and engaging Nicholas Pontrelli, they dared the audience to sit still, firing hit after hit into the crowd.
Constitution Yards did their part to safely host the event by ensuring social distancing standards were established and adhered to without disturbing the flow and atmosphere for the patrons or the band. The weather was hot early in the evening, so the band played it cool, giving just enough swing and pop to ease everyone into the show. As the sun slowly slumped into the horizon and temperatures cooled, they turned up the heat. The horn section (Alan Yandziak – sax; Rob Baronio –trumpet) belted out a clarion call that all but smoothed the sand in front of the stage. Featuring not one, but two keyboard players (Pontrelli and Dan Long), a pro’s pro on guitar (Bob Reuther), and a rhythm section which has jammed together for the better part of 25 years (Tony Cappella – bass; Glenn Walker – drums), not to mention the horn section, folks from all walks of life grabbed every available seat and then tried like hell not to bounce out of them. Storms gather strength when warm meets cool, so it was no surprise when threatening clouds arrived towards the end of the show. After all, What the Funk brought both Friday night, with some thunderous funk and a lightning performance.
When the notes of the last song drifted into the night, it felt as if for those few hours all was normal once again. It was a teaser trailer of how life and the entertainment scene in this town will be once again when certainty and reliability return like long lost friends.