Cashed Fools * December 11, 2012 * The Trash Bar * Brooklyn, NY

written by Oliver Silver Burkat

Photos by Mark Dershowitz – Headyshots Photography


The name “Cashed Fools” may lend the impression that this band is somehow lacking, uninformed, spent, or otherwise foolhearty in its musical endeavors. Making such an assumption would be a gross miscalculation however, as Cashed Fools proved itself a rock-funk powerhouse on an otherwise uneventful Monday night in early December here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Trash Bar, one of Brooklyn’s last great small music rooms, is split between a rock-centric front bar and a back room designed for one thing and one thing only: live music making and listening. By the end of the first song, it was apparent to this music junkie that Cashed Fools takes its craft very seriously, and The Trash Bar was the perfect venue to highlight their talents.

Forging a whole new genre, a better description of the band, coined by drummer Neal “Fro” Evans, accurately describes their music as “Bluesadelic Funkacide.” This rock will hump you, melt your face, then hit you hard enough to knock you out, with just enough grace to gently lay you down for your cat nap.

While I noticed a definite correlation between Cashed Fools and early Red Hot Chili Peppers, guitarist Steve Balkun and bass player Dantonio Africano grooved just as hard as Frusciante and Flea ever did, sharing deep pockets with “Fro,” who led the band through odd time changes and complex transitions with ease. The rock elements harnessed the best parts of Soundgarden, both in aggression and vocals. I found myself thinking, “WOW – this is just what I always wanted – the funk of RHCP distilled and extended, but equally important, more of that elusive, aggressive rock which compliments said funk so well.” These days, it’s not enough to be masters of one genre; Cashed Fools have synthesized a sexy, rock/funk mastery which I hereby dub “RONK.”

Neal “Fro” Evans

Songs like “New Heavy” commanded the audience’s attention, switching from heavy rock to even heavier funk with grace, complimented by Fro’s intricate fills between bass drum, snare and hi-hat. Having never seen the band live before, I was completely floored from hearing such creative, new music played with precision, but more importantly, a heavy dose of soul and feeling. Balkun’s vocals soared in effortless waves, both in aggressive howls and enchanting croons – always with purpose and emotion – invoking an honest, young and hungry Warren Haynes. On his self-built custom axe (his side business, Balkun Guitars) , Balkun seemed equally comfortable strumming a funky rhythm, attacking aggressive riffs, and masterfully tickling crescendo-filled solos.  As with any great bass player, Africano straddled that fine line between laying back in the cut while simultaneously carrying the band’s entire sound on a custom-made bass guitar crafted by his band mate six feet to his stage right. Listening to Africano mold Cashed Fools’ low end, I was reminded of something that too many passive listeners forget: Bass is integral, y’all.

Steve Balkun

While Trash Bar may struggle to fit 175 people in its rear music room, the Fools played as if they were in front of 10,000 on an Appalachian mountainside, digging in and stomping timeless rock stances. Equal parts stoner rock, deep-in-your-guts funk, and virtuosic, complex songwriting lend this band the potential to blow the socks off of audiences far and wide. Thanks to Trash Bar’s excellent sound system, not a note was missed in the band’s 45-minute set, where they played through their full-length self-titled EP in its entirety. Cashed Fools major in a certain brand of funk that I can only describe as subversive – that kind of funk that brings to mind back-room dealings, a seedy underbelly, and all of the devilish delights that make life worth living – in music form. Subversive Funk makes you grin and nod approvingly as you are continually blown away by the high-quality of new music developing before you. Just like any great power trio, Cashed Fools stretch their few instruments to their limits, developing interesting soundscapes while dancing with time-changes sexier than Vincent Vega danced with Mia Wallace fueled by a five-dollar virgin milk shake (no bourbon in it or nothin’). Skill, confidence and perseverance make this a band primed for much greater exposure in 2013. I personally was blown away, and cannot wait to see them perform again.

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