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Karl Denson's Tiny Universe at KAABOO 2016, September 17th. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

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RECAPMy first venture to the “Grandview” main stage offered up a perfect San Diego homecoming. Karl Denson, the man who teamed with DJ Greyboy in the 90s to make San Diego a sleeper cell of funk driven acid jazz, was on stage with his backing band The Tiny Universe.

Back then he was a human wrecking machine with biceps like cannonballs, spitting out sax lines that would leave the Green Circle Bar in ashes. 20 years later the Karl Denson sound is just tighter and thicker and dude still has those cannonballs for arms. Only real change is the slick Reservoir Dogs suits that he and the Tiny Universe are wearing.

Maybe Karl’s King Tut goattee is a little more grey. But other than that, the Tenor Man remains faithful to the velocity and heartbeat that has made his band the living expression of what horn driven funk should ever and always be. As the crowd soaks it in under a sweltering midday sun, it becomes interesting to juxtapose the social justice awareness of a song like “Lost Wages” with the decidedly bourgeoisie audience and the let-them-eat-cake amenities vibe in the VIP premium cabanas. No judgement, just interesting … and either way, music is the gateway drug to social conscience. Put the message out there and layer it in between sax solos (and filthy guitar licks from the Jules Winnfield looking gentleman on lead), and hopefully the message makes its way into our collective awareness. It’s a long con. And one that requires a little faith.

As Karl and his crew keep turning up the knob, he takes a step back and your attention is drawn immediately to the guitar player. His solos are ridiculous. The man does serious justice to a tradition dating back at least to Parliament of funk guitarists getting at as loose and weird as anyone from any rock or jam band. Karl returns to anoint the crowd with a masterful performance of funk jazz flute. Steps from where Ron Burgundy used the magic of the flautist’s pipe to woo Ms. Veronica Corningstone, Karl’s display is … sublime. It’s a veritable blessing of the stage. Really is. Some opening bands inaugurate the stage. But it takes special performance to bless the stage for those who follow. From this moment forward, consider Grandview tierra sagrada. Sacred Ground.

Follow Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe on ,  and Instagram.

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CLICK HERE to check out the rest of our coverage of KAABOO 2016