Jen & Johnny Durkin talking Business!!!!
Music fans all over the Northeast are familiar with the vocal prowess of Jenny “Pipes” Durkin and the percussive beats of her brother Johnny Durkin, and their funk band, Deep Banana Blackout! The Connecticut band formed in 1995, and traveled up and down the east coast performing New Orleans styled, old school funk and Jazz, turning on younger, newer fans to a style of music that was under appreciated. Reluctant to sign a contract with a major record label due to the apprehension that their artistic creativity would be undermined, DBB disbanded in 2003, but continued to perform twice yearly, at a homecoming gig at Toad’s Place in New Haven and at The Gathering of The Vibes.
Jen relocated to Arizona for several years, but has since returned to New England, and has been writing and performing with some old friends and her brother, in a band that goes by the moniker of Jen Durkin & The Business. The band has been performing around New England and New York, and makes appearances at this weekend’s Catskill Chill Festival in New York and then at the Wormtown Music Festival in Massachusetts in mid-September.
Both Jen and Johnny took the time to answer some questions with The Live Beat via email. Enjoy our conversation with Jen and Johnny, and we’ll see you all at the festivals.
The Live Beat — What went into your decision to move back to the Northeast from Arizona? What factors influenced your decision?
Jen — I moved back to the infamous Blackrock neighborhood in Bridgeport that borders on Fairfield in Connecticut. I went to high school here, after living in London, England for 3 years… all thru high school, I sang in bands every chance I got… after school, in theatre productions and eventually the night clubs on the strip in Blackrock… My kids and I moved back here 2 months ago because there is more work for me here…Arizona was all about the family and giving them the full attention…4 or 5 times a year however, I would come back East for short tours with DBB and the Durkin Funk Fam …but when ever the Motet, Soulive, Nth Power and George Porter Jr. came to Phoenix I would get a real strong pang to get back out there and create some new music and tour again, so…..I’M BAAAAACK …To FUNK YO FACE OFF HaHa
The Live Beat — So first let’s chat a bit about Vibes this year. How was the festival for each of you? We’re you around for the whole weekend? Did you get to see/hear any band in particular that excited you? Did you get to sit in with any acts other than DBB? What was the highlight of the weekend for each of you?
Jen — Best Vibes yet…! Was there the whole weekend, this is my hood, my fam, the tribe has this so dialed in. Seaside will forever be the place for this Festival. Love Nikki Glaspie and got to see one of her final shows with Dumpstaphunk, love them all, that was my fav on the Green Vibe Stage, and my Fav Mainstage was Maceo!!! Loved hangin’ all weekend with Stanley Jordan and Kenwood Denard, all of their sit ins were inspiring and our meals together and conversations were amazing. The Teen Scene was where it’s at! Bobby Paltauf band was a highlight of the weekend on the School of Rock Stage and we raged the beachfront campground late night scene. Y’all better watch out they are gonna take over!
Finally Ken Hayes and Aaron Magner of the Biscuits asked me to organize a surprise for the end of their set with The Rhythm Devils and with the help of Jazz promoter Toni Williams we assembled an amazing Gospel ensemble to “Bid you Goodnight” closing the Mainstage on Saturday night. So many great moments but those were the highlights for me J!
Johnny — The Gathering Of The Vibes was great as usual this year! I played a set w/ a special line-up of the Ryan Montbleau Band on Thursday including Mike Dillon, Marco Benevento, Marc Friedman, Yahuba Torres and John Kimock, and special guests Stanley Jordan and Kenwood Denard. That was definitely a highlight as well as getting to reconnect w/ my friends in Slightly Stupid and playing a tune w/ them in front of a HUGE crowd on Friday. I was not around on Saturday until 3am or so but I made it back in time to see Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe at like 5am w/ Ryan sitting in for the last tune. Very Jazz Festish. I can’t wait till Vibes next year!
The Live Beat — And what about this new band? How did this band form, come together? I know it’s a bunch of old friends that have been playing together for many years. Can one of you tell our readers who is in the line up of this band? Who will be on stage with you at The Catskill Chill?
Johnny — The line up for the new band, Jen Durkin and the Business has really been playing together for a few years now. However w/ Jen living in Arizona and myself living in North Carolina and touring w/ the Mike Dillon Band we didn’t play very much being that the rest of the band is based in CT and NY. So, I moved back last September and Jen decided to move back this year. With that, all of us decided to focus on this group w/ a new name and new songs. Everyone knows me from playing percussion in DBB and other bands but in The Business I play drumset. I love it!
Our line up for Catskill Chill is:
Jen Durkin — Lead Vocals
Darian Cunning — Guitar/Vocals
Rich Zurkowski — Bass/Vocals
Johnny Durkin — Drums/Vocals
Jesse Gibbon – Keys
Jen — I started writing these new songs a year ago after falling in love with the Nth Power EP…I had a writing renaissance and would email the tracks to the band from Arizona, so when I came back to Toad’s Place with DBB for Funksgiving, we (Jen Durkin and The Business) had our debut at The Capitol Theatre’s after Party for Robert Randolf Band at Garcia’s.
It was so packed and jammin that Eric Krasno and Robert Randolf sat in and we had an old school freak jam… this line up has been together for seven years. We have played in many different groups together even before that, so this chemistry is DEEP! Our website hit in March and we have been steadily writing, every gig we break out a new tune… it’s real exciting developing music in front of the audience and every one in the band contributes to the writing. This is true Jamband Funk! We are collaborating with Son’s of F.U.N.K. and Bernie Worrell Orchestra going into the studio for a late Fall release.
We have a rotating crew of Horns that sit in, from Funky Dawgz Brass Band, Sons Of FUNK and BRYAC Funk Allstars. Soon we will be a 9 piece Herb n’ Funk assault vehicle, but till we get the Business running and cash flowing we are the core structure… looking for a booking agent that gets it, ya know? Makes it happen. Meanwhile, we have joined forces with Belpointe Management agent Stefanie Lacoff Jampole who is helping us make our mark at all the choice Festivals and venues.
The Live Beat — Are there plans to go back into the studio with this band and record a platter of originals? How many original songs have you got written now?
Johnny — We have about 8 originals together and are working on more this week. We definitely plan on recording very soon after the festival season is done.
Jen — Constantly in the studio from now till it gets done! We have 8 songs so far only half have basic tracks recorded.
The Live Beat — JD & The Biz performed at a number of festivals this summer, and you have two lined up in September. It’s a great way to get the band in front of a lot of new fans. What are you looking forward to the most about Catskill Chill and about wormtown?
Johnny — I love Catskill Chill! I played there for the first time last year and I’m very happy to be coming back w/ the new group. I’m really looking forward to seeing all my favorite drummers and friends on Saturday. Nikki Glaspie, Adam Deitch and Adrian Tramontano all on the same stage. I mean you really don’t have to go anywhere. I think it goes us, Cabinet, The Breakfast, Break Science and the Nth Power. Wormtown is also going to be a blast and that’s a great location as well.
Jen — The opportunity to be on the same bill as Lettuce, Kraz, Play on Bro, Karl D and the Nth Power is a great blessing… the Chill is going to be amazing, all those bands are a major influence and inspiration! Wormtown is like fam, Boston was my home for 3 years when I went to Berklee and we love the Mass Funk Mob…wanted to do it for years so stoked! Lovin the bands Gravity, Bobby Paltauf, Viral Sounds, Funky Dawgz Brass Band, and Banooba1
The Live Beat — What would be your ultimate Superjam if you had to initiate a jam set? Who would you like to collaborate with that you have yet to perform with? Is there anybody on the line up of either set that you are particularly excited to see and hear live? Will you wind up sticking around for the whole weekend at either event?
Johnny — My ultimate Superjam? I’m not touching that one! There are just so many bad asses at these events and on the scene I can’t choose. I’ve still never performed with Joihn Medeski so that would be great someday. I’m looking forward to seeing the bands I mentioned before and of course Lettuce, Karl D., Marco. All my favorites. I will definitely be sticking around most of the weekend at Catskill. Wormtown, I think we roll in and out, but I hope to catch Oteil and get him up with us. It’s been too long.
Jen — Funny thing happened at Disc Jam. We had an ultimate Superjam set up and then lost power right as Nigel Hall hit the stage! Yes well hopefully we will get that chance again… anytime we can jam with Kung Fu, Nth Power, Karl D and those Nephrok all stars we are down…
The Live Beat — Last question – what else would both of you like to have readers of The Live Beat know about Jen Durkin & The Business? What would you like to add?
Jen — JD and the Biz are teaming up with Bernie Worrell Orchestra and Rico Lewis’s Sons of FUNK to tour and record, we’re taking Funk deeper staying true to our Funkadelic Fam roots. Stay in touch as we break out our new website Jendurkinband.com and coming soon our new You Tube channel and Soundcloud…
We love you see you sooooon!!!!