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LMT Connection Funks It Up In Orbit

LMT Connection is one of the best ‘live bands’ around. Their energetic ‘sound’ is captivating to say the least, and always gets the dance floor hoppin’! Their sound is unrelenting funk, R&B and blues with a skill honed from over a decade playing together. They have a weekly Wednesday night gig at Toronto’s top funk and R&B club, The Orbit Room located in the central west ‘Little Italy’ section of town. http://www.orbitroom.ca/

Leroy Emmanuel is LMT’s amiable lead guitarist/vocalist, whose rhythms and leads on his hollow-body semi-acoustic Gibson seem at times to transcend to higher levels where music and soul merge as one. Much the same can be said of LMT bassist ‘Big Bad’ John Irvine, whose sometimes ballistic bass lines sound like Jaco Pastorius gone ‘funky’! ‘Hard Hittin’’ Mark Rogers is the much-gifted drummer in LMT and well as in his own New World Son band: http://www.newworldson.com/newworldson/index.html

Rogers’ hard-drivin’ energy on the skins, really helps keep the rhythm goin’ to new heights of excellence at each and every show this writer has seen these funky LMT dudes perform in concert over the years. Rogers sometimes also doubles on guitar, with Emmanuel switching to drums briefly, which is always a ‘do it when the feeling hits right’ kinda thang! He also leaves the drum kit to drum up a beat in the audience, on whatever object can make a beat, like wine glasses, ladies’ belt buckles, chairs, tables, etc. much like blues guitar great Buddy Guy’s wanderings into his audiences in his guitar solos. A recent audience had people attending from all over the world, including Italy and California. They were in Toronto for the Rush Con 7. So it was appropriate these Rush fans drop in on Orbit co-owner and Rush lead guitarist Alex Lifeson’s funk/R&B club while they were in town.

On other occasions renowned bassist Prakash John (Blues Angels; ex-Alice Cooper/Lou Reed), has wowed the Orbit crowd with some wild 'n' funky bass lines that only a connoisseur bassist at the top of his game could come up with.

Orbit Room manager Tim Wilson, one of LMT’s biggest fans, also sometimes sits in on blues harp and wails way in his own deeply introspective harp playing way, with LMT the best backup band around, helping Wilson’s riffs sound very cool!

In days gone by the late great Domenic Troiano, guitarist extraordinaire in bands like The James Gang, Guess Who and Mandala has performed with LMT’s Emmanuel, along with vocalist George Olliver (Mandala), and Orbit Room co-owner (and Rush lead guitarist) Alex Lifeson -- in a funky, blues, R&B mixture that sounded so good, you’d really have to be there to take it in as good as it gets that way! There is a rare live CD out, with these artists (musical artistic creators), live in concert, called Soul In the City 1 ... a live recording with LMT and various other top acts, soulfully entertaining a packed house at Toronto’s elegant, uptown Capitol Theatre. It you happen to find this CD on eBay or elsewhere, it’s really worth buying!

The mood was just right on a recent trip into Orbit Room funk, with Rogers’ emphatic rhythm guitar playing, that could only come from a guitarist who has a drummer’s superb sense of timing and beat. His guitar rhythms blended beautifully with Irvine’s powerhouse bass lines and Emmanuel’s deep in the groove drumming rockin’ it up real well! This was a spur of the moment thing, but very cool to watch.

On another Wednesday night Kingsley Ettienne sat in on Hammond B-3. His drive on the ivories is unsurpassed, and the feeling he puts into his keyboard playing, is intoxicating to watch as well as listen to! While this musical magic was happening, the dance floor was wall to wall dancers, groovin’ like there’s no tomorrow! Ettienne has his own powerhouse trio. They perform two jazz & dinner shows every Thursday night at The Orbit: 7:30 p.m. & 10 p.m.

In LMT’s usual configuration with Leroy on guitar, Mark on drums and John on bass, the energy emanating from their performance of The Commodores’ "Brick House", brought this ‘brick club’ down to its lowest common denominator of funky excellence! Marvin Gaye’s "Let’s Get It On" and "Sexual Healing" always go over well with the avid Orbit audience. Emmanuel's awesome guitar riffs along with Irvine's impressive bass lines and Rogers' killer drum technique, always make this and other Motown musical memories come across as if they're their own hits. Guitarist Emmanuel recently starred in a Made For TV bio-pic about Marvin Gaye, where he portrays Mr. Gaye. Emmanuel is also credited as guitarist on the Marvin Gaye CD Let’s Get It On, the Deluxe version. He has also performed over the years with Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Sonny Boy Williamson ll, and John Lee Hooker; as well as members of James Brown’s band. Before the Godfather of Soul's recent untimely passing, his band often 'warmed up' the night before a James Brown concert, at the Orbit -- sitting in with various Orbit Room acts, including the Snooky Tynes Band, among others.

There’s a black & white photo on the LMT website, with a very magical charisma attached to it. It shows a young Leroy Emmanuel onstage playing guitar with John Lee Hooker on guitar and James Jamerson on bass in 1964. Whenever this writer sees it, it seems to draw me half way into that day more than 40 years ago, but unfortunately not all the way to when that great musical event actually happened.

Emmanuel’s stories about the days when he worked with some of the biggest starts in the biz at Westbound Studios in Detroit are a captivating thing to listen to. His personal reminiscences of hanging out with Dionne Warwick, Ruby (of Ruby & The Romantics/"Our Day Will Come"), and others when they were all teenagers together, always come across as ‘hear again and again’ stories. But, the topper of them all is Leroy’s fond memory of meeting the one and only blues harp icon Sonny Boy Williamson ll, in a Detroit shoeshine parlor/pool room/eatery called Smiley's, back in ‘50s Detroit. Smiley's sounds like it was a swingin’ place to hang out at, back then. Unfortunately it’s gone the demolition route decades ago ... but used to exist at the intersection of John R. and Watson in 'Motor City', back in the days when Motown hadn't even been thought of yet!

The dance floor is usually always packed when LMT’s onstage ... and with good reason. The beat is there, with the talent to back it up, for sure! They have a great live CD from 1999, called Outta Control, recorded a few years ago in a huge ballroom in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where they had a weekly weekend stint. LMT recently recorded a live DVD at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre (where the Rolling Stones played an impromptu concert in 2006). The LMT DVD event exploded with energy, and was well-attended by die-hard fans. It also featured Rogers’ New World Son band, and had the Rolling Stones’ horn section backing LMT and NWS as well!

LMT also have a recent 2006 CD/DVD combo out, called Colour Me Funky, which features LMT as opening act for and introduced by the one and only B.B. King at Niagara Falls’ Avalon Ballrooom. LMT’s CMF cover art is also very funky, and features original artwork by Emmanuel’s talented and highly artistic daughter, Khea. This live CD/DVD recording captures LMT’s super high-energy live performances at their recorded best!

However, for a real blast into LMT’s upper stratosphere of funky far-out coolness, it’s always best to check them out live, in ‘Orbit’ at The Orbit in Toronto every Wednesday night -- or anywhere this top-notch funk/R&B trio rock the socks off their audiences. LMT performs across Canada, the U.S.A., and in Europe. Be sure to check out their website for current show dates.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: LMT Connection
  • Concert Date: Every Evening
  • Subtitle: At The Orbit Room
  • Venue: The Orbit Room
  • City State Country: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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