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Monday, April 22, 2024

A new ‘B’ in town

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A new ‘B’ in town

Where: Indianapolis, IN

Venue: The Old National Centre

On: 7:32 Off: 10:30

Crowd: A seasoned audience of old school funk fans 

Observations: Blue eyed soul has a way of being attractive to everyone regardless of color.


You don’t come to a funk show in shoes you can’t dance in. The lesson of day. The opening act of Morgan James crooned the audience like they were pouring a fine wine. A quaint band of 5, they set the stage perfectly for the headliner — Brian Culbertson. Belting out one soul ballad after another the crowd was charmed by Morgan’s girl next door demeanor and infectious vocals. A siren no doubt. 

A quick pause to turn over the stage and the lights go low casting a dramatic glow upon the instruments. 

Bump bump bump. The drums thump, the lights swirl and the crowd hollers. 

Against an all star band, Brian Culbertson delivers a performance that was awe inspiring and electric. Beyond the distraction of his spiked hair he’s a true musical talent. Arrangements that paid homage to everyone from the Isley Brothers, to Prince summoned the audience to their feet. Couples swayed. Gal pals boogied down and those who came solo found dance partners in the strangers left and right. 

Under the incandescence of the stage and the aura in the room, music was the great equalizer to a mixed crowd. Women yelled “we love you B” as the virtuoso wowed us playing the piano and the trombone. And the fellas had no problem shaking a tail feather. 

Song after song the Chicago native left the room astounded. Quickly sharing his origin story, Brian detailed how his career took a turn from jazz piano to funk. And I think everyone in the crowd was fine with the transition. Playing non stop nearing two hours the band gave us a slice of sweetness presenting an entire 7 minute solo dedicated just to horns that had to have blown out a window or two in the theatre. Hands down, the standout deliveries that bookended the night were the solos by Patches Stewart on the trumpet and Brian on piano. Patches led us down a dream like the Pied Piper himself, beautifully whisking away under the sound of his meticulous tonal manipulations. 

Rounding out the night Culbertson brought the audience to its knees with something beyond genius when he played the piano backwards without disruption or error. 


A standing ovation in tow, they ended but the crowded cheered the band into an ever so appropriate encore. 

“Play that funky music white boy.”

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