The many minds, personalities and musical backgrounds of Funk Worthy come together to deliver an intoxicating performance.
The band, consisting of drummer Will Ash, vocalist Tyler Blackford, bassist Asher Chalkley, vocalist and saxophonist Chuck Worthy, guitarist Harrison Belew and keyboardist Julian Dittmer, is evolving its sound from ’70s funk covers to original tracks rooted in rock ’n’ roll, hip-hop and jazz fusion, Chalkley said.
The six-piece band met while attending Capital University, crossing paths in classes, fraternities and the campus music scene before its official formation, Ash said. With the addition of Blackford and Chalkley in January 2018, Funk Worthy reached its current lineup and hit the ground running.
The vocalists, with Worthy’s rap bars and Blackford’s crooning, steer the group’s music direction, Dittmer said. Their contribution is central to Funk Worthy’s sound, he said, and is the driving force behind the lyricism, melodies and rhythm of the band.
Chalkley said having two frontmen strengthens the band’s tunes, allowing the group to draw from a wider range of experiences and abilities when developing new tracks. It also presents challenges.
“When you’re writing music for someone to sing on, you realize you’re important, but your part isn’t the part people are listening for,” Chalkley said. “And so, superficially, all of us in the rhythm section have to kind of take an ego check and do stuff that’s serving the song.”
The remaining band members aim to accompany the vocalists and anchor the music, Ash said. However, Dittmer and Belew have been known to indulge audiences with occasional keyboard and guitar solos during performances that Worthy said can only be described as magical.
“These guys are a nuts rhythm section together. Keyboards, guitar, they absolutely shred it,” Worthy said. “Literally intoxicating. You hear it and you just, like, walk away drunk.”
Funk Worthy works to curate an atmosphere that encourages crowd involvement at its performances, Dittmer said. This requires a stage presence that the band has developed over time — more than just the solos and improvisations that characterized the band’s earlier shows, he said.
“I think that element still stands, the listening and being able to improvise on the spot, but I think what we’ve added is making [our performances] more into a show,” Dittmer said. “I think we’ve come a long way in terms of giving that to people and actually moving around, making the audience a part of what we do.”
Exuding this welcoming onstage dynamic has helped Funk Worthy build a community among its fans and fellow Columbus, Ohio, musicians, which is imperative to the group’s growth, Chalkley said. Columbus’ buzzing music scene is a sleeping giant, where Belew said support and inspiration flows from band to band.
“We want to get out there because everywhere we do go — everywhere we do play — we find that we’re making connections with really cool people that are more than willing to help us, and we’re more than willing to help them,” Chalkley said. “Because it’s all about propping each other up and finding this common goal of whatever success is.”