By Kevin Alan Lamb
I got my first taste of Spafford as a welcomed response to my prayers for more jam bands at Electric Forest. They played The Observatory and properly wet my beak while another budding star was welcomed to the scene. It gave my great pleasure to see they had my friends Chirp opening for them at their most recent performance at The Majestic.
Composed of Brian Moss (guitar), Jordan Fairless (bass), Andrew “Red” Johnson (keys), and Cameron Laforest (drums) Spafford administers “electrofunk therapy” in a joyful slice of sound that sings with rock, funk, electronic, bluegrass, and gospel origins.
Despite their widespread explosion on the scene, they are humans who also bear the weight of struggle and shit luck. Like the time when they arrived in Seattle accompanied by a cloud of smoke, and diesel leak, only to learn (after the show) that their compensation was an envelope explaining why they’d hadn’t made a dollar.
They hail from Prescott, AZ where they got their start at Coyote Joys open mic night, and like Spike Lee, have graced the floor at Madison Square Garden with their presence when playing half time at a Knicks game.
Here’s my conversation with Spafford’s Jordan Fairless (bass).
Tell me more about Funked Out Nursery rhymes…
Been a while since I heard about that one haha. Funked Out Nursery Rhymes was an idea that came about randomly, just started singing “Humpy Dumpty” to a funk riff and thought it would be cool to make an album out of it. Something for the kids, you know? Still working out the details on that one.
What are some 2019 dates that you’re geeked about?
I’m stoked to tour to some new states for sure, visiting all 50 states has been a goal of mine for a while and I’m getting close. Super excited to get back to Electric Forest this year as well as share the stage with Umphrey’s at Red Rocks.
Take us through some Spafford firsts that you’ll never forget… serious and silly.
I’ll never forget the first time we played Seattle, it’s a combination of serious and silly I guess. We were finishing our first extended tour of about 30 days across the West Coast. Amidst our journey, we had already sprung a diesel leak in our bus and driven clouded in smoke from Telluride, CO, to make our show in Denver. We finally made it to Seattle and played in a funky little theatre to a small but dedicated crowd. When we finished loading out, the sound guy came up with an envelope and began to run down the list of expenses for the openers as well as his sound fee. Come to find out, the envelope just contained a written explanation of why we would not be getting paid. I remember Brian saying “So you’re telling us we aren’t getting paid?”, to which the sound guy said “I’m telling you you’re not getting paid.” That was the first time we didn’t get paid, though not the last.
What is one of your best memories from open mic nights at Coyote Joes?
There are a lot to choose from, that was such a special time for us and for Prescott. Coyote Joe’s was the place to be and we spent a lot of time there. Of all the memories, I suppose my favorite would be our first time playing it with a full band. We knew from watching and playing enough open mics that it would be allowed so we learned 3 songs and went down to play. We had already been doing the open mics and building our own thing, then we finished and got offered our first gig for NYE. There’s been no turning back since.
Walk us through for your first performance at Red Rocks. From what you were feeling to what you were seeing, hearing, experiencing.
I remember feeling humbled, by the history of it all and the sheer beauty. Walking through the hallway signed by so many of my favorite artists and realizing I would seen be standing where some of my heroes had stood reminded my of how I’m a small piece of something huge. I remember looking in to the 3rd row and realizing that Dispatch could definitely see and maybe even hear me singing my heart out at their 2011 Red Rocks weekend. As we entered in to “Leave the Light On”, a huge wind began to blow through the venue. It felt chaotic and majestic at the same time. There’s nothing like doing something for the first time.
Y’all jammed half time of a Knicks game at MSG… are you a sports fan? Did it feel different playing for an arena full of sports fans vs music enthusiasts?
I’m a sports fan and I’ve been to my share of games, it’s very different to play at a sporting event. I think the sound setup alone lends a different vibe to the performance. It’s set up to broadcast music clips and announcer voices and loud buzzers so the band sounds like a band playing in a sports arena rather than a concert arena. That being said, people who love music still react the same. You can’t expect everyone to sit and watch you at the half time show, I was just stoked to see so many people dancing or nodding their heads and also to see that some fans had traveled in for it.
Just in case you were listening for one, This Is A Good Sound. Catch Spafford on tour and visit https://www.spafford.net.