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Funk for one

Former Garaj Mahaler goes solo as new father Papa Josh

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By Nicole Fitzgerald

Who: Papa Josh

When: Friday, Dec. 15, 10 p.m.

Where: Dusty’s

Admission: $5

After a lifetime of bands, including stints with Garaj Mahal, Josh Suhrheinrich is now fathering a solo career, with his debut Papa Josh show this Friday, Dec. 15 at Dusty’s at Creekside.

The former American vagabond now calls Whistler home after discovering the mountain town while on tour with Global Funk three years ago. The funk jam band played at a Boot Pub music festival, along with Garaj Mahal and De La Soul. Papa Josh fell in love with both the town and his current partner, who gave birth to baby boy Idris last year. The event changed the course of his life and his music.

“When my son was born in 2005, everything started making sense,” Papa Josh said. “Musically speaking, I was finally doing what I wanted to be doing. All the things I’ve done since I started playing music as a kid have become a part of the show I am doing now.”

The seasoned jazz, funk and blues performer has a long history of working in the music industry. His formal training began under the tutelage of Fareed Haque, Garaj Mahal’s guitarist. Papa Josh moved on to tour with San Fransico’s Global Funk. In addition to playing with Garaj Mahal, Papa Josh also shared stages with Spearhead, John Staton, Karl Denson, Liquid Soul, Robert Walter’s 20 th Congress, and Wynton Marsalis’s pianist Dan Nimmer, just to name a few.

He enjoyed a short stint with his own funk band and recorded an album this summer with a funk trio called Boomerang Farm.

Since moving to Whistler, however, Papa Josh has kept a low profile, with solo jazz performances at restaurants such as Aprés and the Rim Rock as well as art galleries and private parties. He also teaches guitar in Whistler and Pemberton.

“I’ve been fairly low key,” he said. “I spent a lot of time writing music and transitioning to the solo project. My experience in the past has always been with bands. With the solo thing, my goal was to make it as dynamic as playing with a band, despite it just being me.”

With the aid of a looping device, Papa Josh is able to layer his guitar talents as well as introduce percussion instruments to his sets.

His music follows a loose blend of the sophistication and technical prowess of jazz with the soul and groove of R&B. The result is a creative, funkified sound that demands listeners open up their senses, move their bodies and open their souls.

“I really like doing a raw, gritty show where it’s about getting people to dance — getting the whole room to boost its energy level,” Papa Josh said. “It’s enlivening music. That is what I enjoy doing. My true calling is to do rhythm and blues dance style music with a lot of jazz influence and a lot of improvisation.”

Papa Josh aims to get people’s booties shakin’, but his music runs deeper than dance sets. His quality music sizzles with soulful vocals and talent, giving listeners the chance to enjoy his music even when off the dance floor.

“I am definitely pooling all of my different influences: rock, jazz and rhythm blues,” he said. “If I feel the urge to put something in there, whatever comes into my mind that seems like the right thing, I do.”

Admission for the original evening of set and improvised funk is $5.

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