Champions of the party

Five Alarm Funk: Band sets lively tone for festival.

Get down: Five Alarm Funk opened the festival Friday evening.

Get down: Five Alarm Funk opened the festival Friday evening.

They wail, they weave, they bend, they jump.

Hallelujah – it’s Five Alarm Funk!

The Vancouver band added blistering grooves to an already torrid day; a perfect segue into the three-day magical musical celebration that is Roots and Blues.

These talented, high-octane musicians create an orgy of fun on stage and their mad-hatter antics are infectious.

The comedy continues off-stage where saxman Dameian Walsh conjures a story about how the members of the band came together by responding to an ad on Craigslist.

“That’s a lie,” he laughs uproariously. “Do you want to hear the rest of it?”

No, they did not respond to a call-out for “funky” musicians, arriving at the audition only to discover nobody knew who posted the ad.

The core members of the horn/percussion fuelled Five Alarm Funk have been together for seven years, with Walsh adding his sax to the blend five years ago.

A couple of members are brothers, others went to school together and grew into this mad-cap band, says Walsh, the only one with a degree in music.

“We have one rule – it’s gotta sound good,” says Walsh, noting all 10 members of Five Alarm Funk compose. “Ten review it and if one guy says it sucks, we don’t do it.”

While the band has fun together, the musicians are committed to what they do and how they sound.

“We may look like fools on stage, but we make a serious effort to do that,” he says, noting every move is carefully choreographed. “Ours is a musical, multi-sensical experience.”