User:Nelsdrums/Urban Family Dog

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Urban Family Dog
Origin Los Angeles, California
Genres Funk, horn section, rhythm and blues
Instruments Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, drums, trumpet, saxophone, trombone, bass trombone
Years active 1994 – 2007
Labels Highdrant Records
Associated acts Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, Living Colour Bootsy Collins, George Clinton (musician), Earth Wind & Fire, Parliament, Funkadelic
Website Urban Family
Members Keri Johnson, Josh Geller, Charles Chastain, Nels Dielman, Matt Lilley, Mike Rotondi, Steve Stassi, Bob Harrington
Past members Scheila Gonzalez, Mike Harrington, Jacqui Walker, Lee Thornburg and others... (also see body of this page)
Urban Family Dog performing at The Gig, Hollywood, CA.

Urban Family Dog (UFD) was an 8-piece American retro funk rock ensemble and horn section formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1994. The band's final line-up was Keri Johnson (vocals), Josh Geller (guitar), Charles Chastain (bass), Nels Dielman (Drums), Steve Stassi (Trumpet), Mike Rotondi (Trumpet), Matt Lilley (Sax) and Bob Harrington (Bass Bone). Their musical style fused traditional funk with elements of other genres including hip hop, rap and progressive rock.[1]

Nearly all of UFD's eight members grew up in the LA basin (from Simi Valley to Ladera Heights), and the wide range in their personal backgrounds and interests made UFD a quintessential L.A. band following the footsteps of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Living Colour. UFD's music has a subtle message promoting unity through diversity, which is exemplified by the varying background of its members and the unique, cohesive sound they produce together. Vocalist Keri Johnson grew up in a middle-class African-American household; Bassist Charles Chastain squatted for an entire year in a vacant house in the South Bay recording music with a friend who's now a CHP officer. Saxophonist Matt Lilley graduated from both Hamilton High and Cal State Northridge music programs. Guitarist Josh Geller got his first guitar as a Bar Mitzvah present and took lessons at McCabe's throughout high school, while Drummer Nels Dielman grew up in rural Baker City, Oregon before attending Musicians Institute in Hollywood and Berklee in Boston.[2]

One of the unique features of UFD's groove is the upside-down relation of the guitar and bass. Chastain's funk-filled slap bass is extremely busy and rhythmic, while Geller's open, syncopated guitar parts tend to weave around the grooves. UFD's horn section, known as the K-9 Brass, played film-score motifs and jazzy, open solos.

UFD's third CD, 3-Finger Charlie, named in tribute to bass player Charles Chastain (who attended Grove School of Music) is a reference to his grisly encounter with a Skilsaw November 2001 and his subsequent recovery. Chastain successfully duplicated all the parts originally recorded with four fingers with only three functional digits in subsequent live performances. 3-Finger Charlie was produced, engineered, and mixed by drummer Nels Dielman and was recorded entirely in the band's studio in Westchester, CA. Dielman, an award-winning art director,[3][4] featured in Kevin Roberts books Lovemarks and SISOMO for his Lexus IS Mosaic project, [5][6][7] also designed and produced all the album artwork.


Matt Lilley performing at the 2004 Hollywood Funk Festival

The 8-piece ensemble's material is eclectic and focused, humorous and socially conscious. From incendiary, skin-tight funk workouts like Higher, to the Zappa-like avant-garde exploration Anna Guana Davida, Urban Family Dog's musical palette is vast yet accessible. Most notable is their ode to a funk suppository, Preparation F, featuring the refrain "we put the 'fun' in the funk."

The key to the Urban Family Dog ethos is its commitment to the "One." Originally used to emphasize the first beat of a musical bar, the concept was expanded upon by funk pioneers like James Brown and George Clinton (musician) to signify musical unity as well as rhythmic innovation. [8]

Taking on a life of its own, UFD's horn section, known as the K-9 Brass also performed on several peer's albums, and performed onstage with Hoobastank and actor Kelly Perine's band Birthday Suit. Members of the K-9 Brass consisted of a variety of revolving-door horn players, eventually solidifying into four members for the last 6 years of the band: veteran touring/session artist Steve Stassi on lead trumpet, musical director and saxophonist, Matt Lilley, background vocalist and trumpet player, Mike Rotondi and the Harrington brothers, Mike and Bob on bass trombone.

Nels Dielman, Urban Family Dog, 14 Below Santa Monica in 2003

In late 1998, Drummer and 3-Finger Charlie audio engineer and record producer Nels Dielman joined UFD. A Berklee College graduate, Dielman added a refining and focusing influence to the partially fragmented band. In 2000, Dielman began recording 3-Finger Charlie, a project that would take nearly two years to complete. At the same time, UFD was opening for many popular acts, including Fishbone, Dave Wakeling of the English Beat, Malcolm-Jamal Warner's "Miles Long" and Actor James Marsters who played Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series). Strangely enough, Marster's fans were very loyal, and latched onto UFD, helping to propel the band to the top of the Los Angeles music scene. During his tenure with UFD, Dielman also joined South Park band DVDA (band) and performed on the CD Chef Aid: The South Park Album featuring Issac Hayes and Meatloaf (singer).[9] In addition, they submitted their song Logan for the X-Men original soundtrack.

UFD's eclectic yet focused musical exuberance drives 3-Finger Charlie's 14 compositions (imagine Tower of Power's horn section sitting in with Living Color). Subject matter ranges from the mundane to the inspirational, from the sensitive to the sensational, but the band's strong emphasis on discipline and musicianship ensures a solid musical foundation throughout. Film composer David Shire sent the band his original score so they could re-work his theme from The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974 film) to showcase the talents of UFD's standout horn section, the K-9 Brass which can be heard on SomaFM's Secret Agent. Any doubts about the quality of the recording vanished when the band received approval from Mijac Music (Michael Jackson's publishing company) to include "Higher," a modern take on the funk standard "I Want to Take You Higher" by Sly and the Family Stone -- rare permission for an independent band.

Urban Family Dog took on a permanent hiatus following disagreements on the music direction of the band. Their final performance was February, 23, 2007. Matt Lilley and Nels Dielman went on to join the 'Samurai Homeboys' a year later.


  • Take It Like You Like It CD (1995)
  • Sold Out At The Viper Room CD (1998)
  • 3-Finger Charlie CD (2002)[10][11][12][13]
  • Twelfth Anniversary Concert DVD (2006)[14]

Current Band Members[edit]

  • Josh Geller Guitar, Vocals
  • Charles Chastain III Bass, Piano
  • Keri Johnson Vocals
  • Steve Stassi Trumpet
  • Mike Rotondi Trumpet, Vocals
  • Bob Harrington Bass Trombone
  • Matt Lilley Saxophones
  • Nels Dielman Drums

Additional Musicians[edit]

  • Tom Watters Drums, Vocals
  • Jacqui Walker Vocals
  • Scheila Gonzalez Saxophones
  • Samantha Blake Saxophones
  • Lee Thornburg Trumpet
  • Mike Harrington Bass Trombone
  • Oliver May Trombone
  • Roger Johnson Percussionist
  • Nathalie Wood Vocals


External links[edit]

Category:Musical groups from California Category:American funk musical groups