The jambalaya is better than ever, the grits amazing, the bar and dance floor generating crowds, and this weekend funk is back at Lola’s in Oak Bluffs. Richie Rich & 24 Karat Funk Band will perform both Saturday and Sunday nights.
Richie Rich & 24 Karat Funk Band, a typically seven-member funk, R&B, reggae and jazz band, have been making music for more than 18 years. They have been coming to the Island for 10 years to play at Lola’s.
The leader of the band, Richie Rich, is a Massachusetts native, born in Boston, who has been in the entertainment business for more than 35 years. His music inspiration come from the soulful sounds of Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and many of the gospel, funk, and R&B legends that have been around from the 50s through the 90s.
As a young boy, he sang for his family’s guests. When he was 11 he attended the New England Conservatory of Music and studied piano. At 13, he met Duke Ellington, a big band leader and noted jazz musician, and had the opportunity to talk to him about his love for music. Mr. Ellington told him not to let anyone ever talk him out of his dreams, and he did not.
In the 1970s he started his first band, Osimuim, named after the first 1966 Parliament album. He then formed The Flight Of The New Born and played music with Stanley Clark, Chick Corea, and Quincy Jones. Since funk was a popular genre in the 70s, and he was in the thick of it, he connected with “Funk Master” George Clinton and a 30-year friendship started.
This connection, among others, led to gigs at the Apollo Theatre’s 75th anniversary in 2003 and a tour to Paris and Israel in September of 2004.
Jeanmarie Martin, the band’s manager, has been enthusiastic about their performance since she found them. “I met them in a small club in Peabody and decided to go hear them a second time.” She was so impressed with their sound that she then worked her magic to get them into The Hi-Hat, a jazz club in Providence’s Davol Square. This started a seven-year working relationship between her and the band.
“It took Richie a year to get into Lola’s,” Ms. Martin says. “Now folks make their vacations around the band,” she noted regarding the influx of support they have gotten since Lola’s re-opened four weeks ago.
“Within the African American community, music on the Island has always been big…and Lola’s is a good, big space that can engage an age group of 20 to 50. So when rumor got around in June that Lola’s was re-opening, we contacted her immediately to try to book a show again and help her out.”
Within a week of re-opening, owner Kathy Domitrovich contacted the band to ask them to come out to play. In August when they preformed, the atmosphere was abuzz with happiness and fun, including three regulars on the bar dancing via stepladder, according to Ms. Martin.
This weekend, however, is truly “A reunion. A reunion for both Lola’s, the band, and the Island community,” says Ms. Martin.
It seems that is indeed the case, as Ms. Domitrovich puts it in regards to the band, “They are the heart and soul of this place.”
Richie Rich & 24 Karat Funk Band, 9 pm–12:45 am, Saturday and Sunday nights, Lola’s, Oak Bluffs. No cover. For more information contact band manager, Jeanmarie Martin at Diamond092@comcast.net, 978-360-6852; or Lola’s at 508-693-5007.