LA transplant gets tight with James Brown tribute band.

Soul Machine: Different Rhythm: Kim Edmundson’s musical projects—and look—may have changed over the course of his decorated career, but his talent remains uncommon.

Kim Edmundson has an impressive résumé from 30 years of playing music in the Los Angeles area. The drummer has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including George Harrison and Michael Jackson. Edmundson has also contributed his musical talents to the 1990 hit film Dances With Wolves and the long-running television show Matlock.

Becoming a known studio and soundtrack musician has also allowed the Palm Springs native to make a few cameo appearances in television shows and movies. “I was on Fantasy Island with Loretta Lynn in the ‘70s,” he says, chuckling.

A year and a half ago, Edmundson and his wife, Michelle, started to tire of the Los Angeles lifestyle. Seeking a slower pace, they relocated to Carmel for what they thought would be a temporary visit.

“We just wanted to get out of the rat race for a while,” Edmundson says. “We wound up staying.”  

Now the Edmundsons have no immediate plans of leaving the area. Michelle is currently the acting theater manager at the Sunset Center, while Kim is the music director of the Carmel Youth Center and CYC Recording Studios. As manager for CYC, Kim has recorded an array of projects—from the Pacific Repertory Theater’s soundtrack for the play Ghosties to the debut album of 16 year-old Sinatra singer Sam Skemp. In addition, he does the drum work for the television show CSI: Miami, which he sends to LA via an online uplink.

When Monterey Live opened in June of last year, Edmundson put together a band to play the new venue. Not-so-imaginatively named, the Monterey Live Band, which features vocalist Lori Hofer, plays everything from Sly and the Family Stone to Duke Ellington. Under the name Kim’s Night Out, the Monterey Live band will perform at Carmel’s Jack London’s every Friday night starting in May.

Edmundson says he noticed there was something different about playing in Monterey County after a few gigs at Monterey Live. “The audiences on the Peninsula are much more attentive and pay more attention than the people in LA,” he says. But after playing around town for almost a year, Edmundson realized that the Monterey music scene lacked something in particular. “The one thing I thought this town was missing was a soul and horns band,” he says.

A month ago, the drummer decided to remedy the problem by forming an eight-person revue dedicated to none other than the Godfather of Soul. Downtown James Brown, features David “Dasher” Kempton on B3 organ with Brian Stock and Stu Reynolds of Along Came Betty on horns. The group’s vocalist, who refuses to be named, is a popular performer who frequently plays at Monterey Live and Cibo Ristorante.

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Edmundson says the band’s setlist was influenced by the Brown’s In the Jungle Groove, which is a collection of rarities. The group will play obscure numbers from the album like “It’s a New Day” alongside classic Brown hits including “I Feel Good” and “Sex Machine.”

Edmundson admits that Downtown James Brown has four Motown tunes in its repertoire. Instead of staples like The Temptations’ “My Girl,” the band will play lesser-known songs like Sam and Dave’s “Shotgun” and Otis Redding’s “Knock On Wood.” The band, which is described by Edmundson as a “work in progress,” will add more material in the future. “It’s always gonna be mostly James Brown,” he promises.

Edmundson says that he first became hooked on Brown when he heard “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” in the Palm Springs Junior High School lunchroom. The drummer has an easy time recalling why he was initially drawn to James Brown’s sound. “The band is so tight,” he says. “It’s undeniably funky.”

Despite his accomplished career, Edmundson says he has one modest goal for Downtown James Brown. “It’s not my idea to record this band,” he says. “My idea is to make this fun.”  

DOWNTOWN JAMES BROWN debuts at Monterey Live, 414 Alvarado St., Monterey, Thursday at 7:30pm. $5. 646-1415.

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