Ever heard of swamp-funk? Sounds kinda like a weird foot fungus, right?
It’s not, and it’s awesome.
Swamp-funk is a spin on swamp-rock, a style drawing from the ‘60s and ‘70s sounds of Memphis, Tenn. and Muscle Shoals, Ala. It combines soulful vocals with the silver slides of country, the grit of blues with the danceable edge of a funk beat.
Hibbity Dibbity, a swamp-funk band hailing from San Francisco, just blew the lid off at Bombs Away Cafe on Saturday, Oct. 8.
That’s right; y’all missed it.
Their music can only be described as clever, ecstatic, and riotous. Timeless, but kinda dirty. Pelting rhythms that make your feet move. Super tight; then loose in all the right places. I was grinning from the moment they started playing.
They were, too.
“Fucking fantastic,” said Dallas Renick, former LB student and current server at Bombs Away Cafe. “Very underrated for the turnout; they should be seen by way more people.”
The band played a high-energy set that lasted for over two hours, convincing an initially sluggish crowd to move as more folks percolated through the doors.
“I just love playing music with my best friends. It’s what I do,” said Parker Simon, Hibbity Dibbity’s bass player. “It doesn’t matter if one person shows up or 500.”
This band’s good energy was key; their joy spilled right over the stage and into the crowd. By the end of the set, the small space in front of the stage was packed with dancers.
“I thought they were great; there was not a weak link in the band,” said Steve Hunter, the sound manager who also books the bands for Bombs Away.
Hunter spent the last six years working at the cafe. For two and a half, he’s located unique bands from around the country to grace the cafe’s stage. Although the stage is little more than a four-inch high platform in a small corner of the cafe, they make it work.
This kind of venue offers a rare opportunity for bands and crowds. The constraints of a small space create an intimate setting that begs for interaction, making it easy to connect and send the energy spinning upwards.
The turnout for this band wasn’t what Hunter had hoped for, but it didn’t seem to matter to the band or the audience.
“It’s not what I would have expected at the beginning of the term. It’s been a slow couple weeks,” said Hunter.
Hunter hopes to expose the Corvallis crowd to new bands, but the best way to do that is to bring in the local with the out of town.
“Usually with out of town bands I try to pair them with a local band,” said Hunter.
Even without a local draw, Hibbity Dibbity pulled their own that night. By the end of the raucous evening, drummer John Jack’s symbol hung broken and swaying, pieces littered beneath and gleaming.
The four members have played together for three and a half years. Their setup includes two electric guitarists, one of whom doubles on keys, an electric bass, and drums. The entire band pitches in on vocals, giving the music breadth and punctuation, their vocal harmonies exactly on point.
A group of transplants from around the U.S., Hibbity Dibbity met in college at the University of San Francisco.
Then, like a perfect storm or some dreamy love story, they discovered they were musically right for each other, and all in the right place at the right time.
“Everything fell into place,” said Tommy “Fuego” Relling, whose fingers dripped guitar licks all night.
Within their first year of playing, the band flew to Chicago to play shows. They also found success in New York, playing sold-out shows.
“It just took off right away,” said Simon.
They were neither incredulous or smug with their success; just honestly happy to be doing what they do.
“It’s fulfilling something,” said Simon.
While on tour the band travels and practices in their yellow steed, a shortbus they’ve dubbed Mo’reen. They even serenaded her in concert, striking up the Paul Revere and the Raiders cover she’s named after.
Most of their music is original, however. It’s soaked in the shadow of bygone days, days of blues, roots music, and rock ‘n’ roll.
“It’s a pretty broad range that comes together in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” said Relling.
The band will finish their tour of Oregon this week, but they’ve promised to come back.
“The main goal is getting the music to the people,” said Simon.
So, even though you missed this particular chance to catch the act, keep your eye out for another opportunity to experience Hibbity Dibbity.
Chris Deyo Braun- guitar, vocals, keys
Parker Simon- bass, vocals
John Jack- drums, vocals
Albums: 2014 self-titled release, “Hibbity Dibbity,” and 2015 release, “Tinctures, Potions and Elixirs”
Available on Spotify