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Surviving That First Gig: A Chat with The GroovaLottos About Their First Show

It was a cool March evening in Falmouth, Massachusetts when The GroovaLottos made their debut in 2011. It was also the night that they invented their 'Mash' songs.

"We had been jamming in the carriage house for almost two years and sounded pretty good," recalls Mwalim DaPhunkee Professor, "I had brought in a digital recorder and we even made a demo of about 4 or five songs."
"The only thing," added Eddie Ray Johnson, "was that all we knew were about 4 or five songs... completely. We also knew a couple of Mwalim's originals; but otherwise, we barely had a complete set. The next rehearsal, Mwalim casually mentions that we had two gigs coming up, both on the same day."On March 12, 2011, for the first time, The GroovaLottos loaded their instruments into their vehicles and unloaded at the Tilden Arts Center of Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable and made their public debut at the Multicultural Arts Festival. "That was only a 25 minute set, so we were fine," recalls Eddie Ray. Later that night, they unloaded at a pub in Falmouth, did soundcheck and went out for a bite before the 10pm gig.

"All through dinner, Jamie and Nick were stressing about our lack of songs to fill a gig that ran from 10pm to 1am. To add to the pressure, the Cape Cod Times had placed us as 'Pick-of-the-Week' for the weekend, so folks were going to come hear us," laughed Mwalim. While Jamie Wolf had been a session player for Motown in the late 1960's, as well as a touring blues player, usually fronting his own bands; Mwalim and Eddie Ray had also been touring and session players and Mwalim relied on some incite that the late, great Atlantic Records promotions man, Clarence Bullard, "If you know four chord progressions, you know 4 million songs." Also having backgrounds as jazz players, they were able to insert solos and shift feels of the songs to stretch them out.



"We were able to make it through all three sets, using the same chord changes several times and just changing the arrangement, words and melodies,"added Eddie Ray. "Between the 12-bar blues, the 'Shake It Up Baby' chord changes, and 'Ain't Misbehavin' chords, we were able to play tons of soul, blues, rock, and pop tunes by Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Barry White, Curtis Mayfield, Muddy Waters, Charles Wright, and The Isley Brothers," explained Mwalim.

Here we are, almost seven years later and the band has a set list of over 200 songs, over 30 of which are originals, including the tunes on their Grammy nominated debut album, "Ask Yo' Mama". Even their cover tunes are distinctly 'GroovaLotto', soaked in their signature soul-funk-blues style.

UPCOMING Shows with The GroovaLottos:

JAN 13th, Feb 17, March 17 - Soul Night @ Gilda's Stone Rooster
27 Wareham Rd, Marion, MA - 9PM

Jan 20th, Feb 10, March 10 - Soul Sessions @ Dedham Square Coffeehouse
565 High St, Dedham, MA - 8PM

To follow the GroovaLottos, visit:
http://thegroovalottos.com

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