8 Ball Junkies began in 2001 as a purely instrumental vehicle for a loose knit group of studio musicians from Cincinnati Ohio. Ry Stephenson (drums) Jared Manker (bass) and Justin Toddhunter (guitar) were gigging under the name, and pulled in Producer/DJ Shawn Shiveley (professionally known as Nappyhead) and Percussionist Alonzo Leggette to add to their fiery chemistry. The group began a weekly residency at a local club that honed their improvisational skills, and expanded their repertoire. You were likely to hear Phish segue into Medeski, Martin, and Wood or the Meters followed by Napphead spinning Eminem A Capella's while the band held the beat. 8 Ball Junkies would tackle almost any material from Allman Brothers to Zappa. In 2002, Justin left to pursue his education and introduced the band to Joseph Burkens who took over the guitar duties. With this line-up the Junkies drew on other influences as varied as Bluegrass and Hip-Hop which meshed perfectly with their improvisational attitude. The groups following quickly grew. Many other local musicians on set breaks from their gigs across the street or around the corner would stop in and were always welcomed to sit in. In late 2003, Joseph relocated to Colorado. Nick Tuttle joined the band and brought a Latin flavor and traditional Jazz to the Junkies sound. Louis Banfa, Wes Montgomery and Santana would pop into set lists. At the end of 2004, the band decided to utilize many of the relationships they'd built with very talented musicians in a studio setting. The sessions began with Jared Manker and Nappyhead laying the foundations and the grooves of Alhambra Palace in Naps home studio. Ry Stephenson handled the drum chores, and contributed to the writing process as well. There were many discussions on what makes great instrumental music, and then listening to lots of instrumental music. A lot of effort was placed in writing good catchy melodies that you could sing. Nick Tuttle and John Gentry Jr (Rays Music Exchange, DaLemmings) were brought in next to layer the guitars. Saxophone, flute, melodica and other accents were added by J (4-Track All Stars). Michael 'Maddog' Mavridoglou (Jazz Mandolin Project) played some of the blazingest trumpet allowed by law. And Bootsy Collins' protege FreekBass was called upon for the funk-ladden Mu-tron Bass he is so well known for. Sixteen months later the 8 Ball Junkies are ready to unleash 'Alhambra Palace' on the world of unsuspecting music fans.
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