Bumpus and their powerful brand of soul music channels the uplifting energy of Sly & the Family Stone, the energy of James Brown and the reflective cool of Marvin Gaye. Led by singers James Johnston, Ava Fain and Tina Howell, they bring together funky big beats, deep bass, lush JB Horns and a heavy organ sound that results in a high-octane musical funk frenzy.
There’s this album by Sly and the Family Stone called “Fresh”. It’s a sloppy, passionate record with all kinds of technical “problems”. The bass is all fuzzy on some tunes, sometimes you can barely hear the horns, and you can hear Sly giving the engineer directions a couple of tracks. Despite that, or because of it, the record is packed with the kind or raw soul that we could only dream of capturing. We all heard the record at slightly different times, but when we met, we knew we wanted to make that kind of music. Many years, shows and albums later, we’ve covered a lot of ground. After our debut self-titled album was released, we won high marks from Chicago’s Reader, Tribune, and Sun-Times, and were selected by the Chicago Historical Society as the band that “best represented to the contemporary music scene what the Beatles did in their early days in Liverpool and Hamburg.” That last one kind of took our breath away. Getting compared to the Beatles is the kind of thing we only dreamed of.