Quasimodo has a reputation for being one of Berlin’s best jazz and blues clubs. Quadimodo opened in 1969 and since then has been the place to go for jazz, funk, soul, Latin, blues and rock.As I checked the calendar of artists playing during my stay, selecting a night to visit was easy. How could I pass up seeing a band named Mike Russell’s Funky Soul Kitchen?
After taking a wrong turn, we ended up behind the club and chatting with the band bass player and piano player before the show. After getting some introductions and back ground on the band we were directed to the entrance. Like just about every old school music venue, Quasimodo is a basement club. The venue is an intimate and cozy one with low lights, black walls and music art work and concert posters adorning the walls. We were early and managed to get a table down front before the crowd filled the place to capacity.
Mike Russell is a veteran performer. Born in Washington D.C. in 1952, Mike Russell has a professional career that started with soul and blues bands in the 1960’s. Tonight he and his band, with a guest appearance by The Blues Ambassador EB Davis, played some funky blues and R&B originals and a few covers. A few songs into the first set, the miles faded away, and I felt like I was back home in the States at a new blues club. The crowd was a lively one with many people on their feet dancing between their seats and even more on the dance floor.
If your travels take you to Berlin and you are wondering where to find some live music… pay a visit to Quasimodo.
Interview with Mike Russell
I was blown away to find some good ole funk and soul in a basement in Berlin. Music is certainly an international “language.” What should tourists like myself expect when they explore the music scene in Berlin ?
In Europe there is a rich tradition of Jazz and Blues dating from the 1920’s. Black American soldiers found respect including Sidney Bichet and others. In Europe you will find much more African and Afro styled music and super musicians.
Tell me about the band? Who are those awesome cats sharing the stage with you?
The band, Helmut Bruger, a fantastic pianist and Berklee School of Music graduate. He is the only Berliner in the group. Sir Charles Willamson on bass from Hartford Connecticut. He is the former bassist of Ronnie Laws plus many others. He is a great musician! Dicarlo on drums playing the Funk! Dicarlo is a New Yorker who performed with Micheal Jackson’s original This is it Band. We also had Eb Davis a real blues man my great friend from Memphis.
How did you end up bringing the funk to Berlin?
My girl friend convinced me to move from Washington DC to Berlin around 1988. This was after having my motorcycle stolen the second one in a year! I was easily convinced.
You played a number of original songs, where can other blues, soul and funk music fans find your music?
We are recording a CD of the originals you heard and hope to release very soon.
What was the first album that you added to your personal music library?
My first were 45’s: “Time is on my Side” by the Rolling Stones and “Where did our love go” by the Supremes.
What was your most recent addition to your personal music library?
“HUMANS HUMANS” a new release from Mfa Kera.
What was your first live music experience? Which venue and which artist(s)?
That’s difficult; I think it was The Epsilons or The Young Senators. A pair of DC Funk Bands back in the day.
If you could cover one album in your music library which would it be?
That’s the Way of the World by Earth Wind and Fire.
What artist do you wish more people had in their music library?
Mfa Kera who is a tremendous singer composer who more people need to hear.