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Artist of the Month, November 1996

The Mo'Fessionals

To describe the Mo'Fessionals (music) is hard as hell," vocalist Zoe Ellis has said. "People call it funk, but I think it's more R&B."

"I call it progressive soul," says drummer Loring Jones.

The labels come and go as critics, fans, and even band members try to describe the music of the Mo'Fessionals, but the one constant that remains is the driving energy, popularity, and get in your face dance your ass off enthusiasm of this Bay Area band. H.E.A.R. is a long time fan of the Mo'Fessionals and we're excited by this chance to honor them as our Artist of the Month for October.

The Mo'Fessionals got it going about six years ago rising out of a band called The Church of the Grand Funk. The Tower of Power influence was strong, but the Mo's added jazz stylings, along with rock, reggae, funk, soul and rap. The sound was big brash and bold and influenced other bands in their wake. The original horn section has been replaced and the 11 member band is now a solid pack of 8. The line-up includes Chris Burger: Rapper; Teal Collins, Zoe Ellis, and Mike Marshall: Vocals; Loring Jones: Drums; Erik Smyth: Guitar; John Wilson: Bass; and Jeff Young: Keyboards.

Recognition and awards have been part of the Mo's steady climb during the past five years. In 1992 the band won the San Francisco Weekly's Alternative Music Award for Best Funk Band. In 1993 their album The Mo'Fessionals Live at Slim's won a Bay Area Music Award as the Most Outstanding Independent Album of the Year. 1994 and 1995 saw the Mo's win the SoCo Rocks competition as club goers voted the band their Favorite Bay Area Band. And in the Spring of 1996 The Mo'Fessionals won the title as The Best Unsigned Band in Northern California. Their selection put them at the top of the more than 800 bands entered in the contest, and resulted in the band playing two consecutive sold out nights at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

Here's just a couple samples of what some of the critics have been saying about the band:

"... the Mo'Fessionals combine an array of homegrown sounds - .... gospel singing, hip-hop rhythms, and jazz improvisations - into a stylish, high-energy urban dance music all their own...." San Francisco Bay Guardian, Jason Fine.

"... five alarm flashes of '90's brilliance.... the Mo's lay raps and harmonies over purely original funk...they raise the roof ...This group has its finger on what rap needs to do to move ahead in the '90's take it out live in style." URB Magazine, Los Angeles, Todd Barrett.

"Word is definitely out on this band and their reputation as frenetic, unstoppable performers. (At a recent show) The Mo's delivered a non-stop hour-and-a-half tour de force of '70's soul, '80's funk, and '90's hip-hop, often within the space of one tune! ... wicked-quick unison horn-riffing, tasty instrumental improv, close-harmony a cappella gospel, witty rhyming, tricky song structure changes and one thumping nation under a groove." East Bay EXPRESS, Harold Olaf Cecil.

The Mo'Fessionals are a hardworking dedicated gang of musicians exploding the trite formulas of musical formats and categories. The band also has their own Web Site where you can stay current with their tour schedule, listen to song samples, and order their CD. The Mo's can be found on the Web at straw.com.

We're proud to honor the Mo'Fessionals as our Artist of the Month and we urge you to get out and see them and grab a copy of their CD. You'll be dancing and prancing and spreading the word 'fore you know what happened.


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