Dec 7, 2018
Joe Dart was on his way to Boston. He had enrolled in the Berklee College of music - a somewhat inevitable step for the young, very talented bass player from rural Michigan who loved funk and soul music. Although he had already been performing regularly in and around his home of Harbor Spriannngs, Michigan, he knew he would have to get out of town to achieve his goal of being a touring and recording bass player. But he didn’t go. Something kept him in Michigan and at the last minute he changed his plans and decided to move to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan instead.
Any guesses what that one thing might have been?
You’re probably right.
Anyway, it didn’t take him long to meet the musicians who would change his life and trajectory. Within weeks of moving to Ann Arbor, a jam session with Jack Stratton reoriented both of them. Along with Theo Katzman, Woody Goss, and a continually expanding collection of regular players (including Cory Wong, Antwaun Stanley and Joey Dosik) and special guests (like drummers James Gadson, Bernard Purdie, Michael Bland, and Louis Cole) Joe Dart became both the backbone and the bottom end of Vulfpeck. Through their youtube videos, Vulfpeck has become the subject of enormous fanaticism and enthusiasm for a new generation of funk loving hipsters. And Joe Dart has inspired a special kind of fervor from fans, fed in part by the band’s own Jack Stratton who seems committed to making sure Joe Dart becomes a household name among the internet connected backbeat illuminati.
Joe and I got together last month in an Airbnb in Paris to talk about how “the way you groove has power”, why the magic of Vulfpeck is in the freshness of the music, what it means to “play every note like my life depends on it”, if his vigorous head bobbing influences his groove, and where he learned to play bass “like a drummer”.