Hard Proof, the award-winning Austin ten-piece collective are the sole purveyors of African funk in the state of Texas. They don’t just play Afrobeat or world music, but funk and jazz music inspired by the whole sub-Saharan African continent. Hard Proof was formed in 2008 from members of Black Joe Lewis, The Calm Blue Sea, Cougar, Ocote Soul Sounds, Spanish Gold, the Echocentrics, and several other notable Austin acts.
On Saturday, September 27, 2014, the band will release a Cassingle titled “Soul Thing” b/w “Lake Tana” during the 2nd annual Cassette Store Day. The Cassingle was recorded, mixed and mastered at The Bubble in Austin, TX by Chris “Frenchie” Smith, co-produced by Hard Proof and mastered by Alex Lyon.
The first track “Soul Thing” was written by Joe Woullard (Baritone Sax/Flute) and was inspired by “late night pursuits.” Woullard explains, “the name was created very early in the song’s life and just always felt appropriate.” The second track “Lake Tana” was written by Jason Frey (Tenor Sax) after being inspired from a show’s infectious upbeat vibe and love of Mulatu Asteke’s music. Frey details, “The title of the track is taken from the largest lake in Ethiopia, which feeds into the Blue Nile. The largest musical influence from Ethiopia for me is Mulatu Asteke and his ‘freaky Ethio-Jazz sound.’ So just as the lake feeds the river, his music was the spring of inspiration for me on this track.”
In 2014, some may wonder why a band would release new music on cassette. Stephen Bidwell (Drums) enthusiastically states, “We were scheduling a tour around the time of Cassette Store Day, and a few of us had thought about doing a cassette for a while, so the timing made sense. Most of us grew up before file sharing or burnable CDs, so tapes were a huge part of our musical upbringing and discovery. Mixtapes sure had more of a personal touch than a Spotify playlist. Also putting it out as a cassingle reminds me of the golden age of hip hop when we consumed singles on tape and had to flip sides to hear more. You had to work harder to discover new music.”
To celebrate the release of their Cassingle, the band will be touring the East Coast starting September 24th with stops in Atlanta, Asheville, Washington DC, New York, Morgantown, and Pittsburgh, before making their debut at the world-renowned Austin City Limits Festival! More details listed below.
While their releases are always well received, there seems to be universal agreement that their live shows are something not to be missed. Austin taste-maker Laurie Gallardo of KUTX may have put it best: “This local nine-piece ensemble always puts on an electrifying live show, an absolute blowout of non-stop percussion action and blasting brass, bringing the best of both worlds to the stage by mixing classic styles and plenty of their personal panache to own the show.”
09/24 @ 529 – Atlanta, GA
09/25 @ The One Stop – Asheville, NC
09/26 @ Tropicalia – Washington, DC
09/27 @ Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) – New York, NY
09/28 @ Wine & Jazz Fest – Morgantown, WV
09/28 @ Thunderbird Café – Pittsburgh, PA
10/05 @ Austin City Limits Festival – Austin, TX