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Fort Knox Five bringing the funk

Leaving Washington, D.C., was a great thing for Steve Raskin’s musical output. Not that the musician hadn’t been busy since before leaving the D.C. for the Vancouver-British Columbia area. He’s always been busy cranking out music; moving West gave him more people to make music with.

Raskin’s music career dates back to the early 1990s, when he played guitar for D.C.-based indie-rock band Edsel, but his main gig for the last two decades has been in Fort Knox Five, the sometimes band, sometimes singular electronic music project of which Raskin is the core member, a DJ-based venture that produces and plays hip-hop, reggae and electronica in a funk-heavy package.

Fort Knox Five featuring Steve Raskin will return to Durango on Saturday, performing with local DJs Codestar and Posh Josh.

Raskin and Fort Knox Five have always sought out collaboration, and as they’ve toured around the globe since coming together in 2003, they’ve found those like-minded musicians in various cities, including Vancouver.

“I have a real affinity for the B.C. scene,” Raskin said in a recent interview. “In fact, for years while we were touring here, we clicked with so many of the artist in the area we called it the ‘D.C. to B.C. connection.’ I had to go through and do the full thing and ended up moving here.”

The latest tracks from Raskin and Fort Knox Five have those collaborations on full display: “Playing with Fire” is a cut that dropped in July featuring Vancouver’s Emily Molloy on vocals, and “Keep The Funk Real” came out in September, recorded with Australian musician Evan Chandler, aka “Slynk.” Produced and recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown and available on their Bandcamp page, the cuts show that the “D.C. to B.C.” connection is very much alive, as Raskin’s main partner in collaboration is Fort Knox Five guitar player Rob Myers. When he’s not bouncing around the globe with his main gig as guitar player for the band Thievery Corporation, he’s in D.C.

These new Fort Knox Five cuts are tunes inspired by a Blaxploitation film score, throwback cuts nodding to 1970s funk.

If you go

WHAT: Fort Knox Five, Posh Josh and Codestar.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Animas City Theatre, 128 E. College Drive.

TICKETS: $25, available online at https://bit.ly/3Ebuhns.

MORE INFORMATION: Call 799-2281 or visit animascitytheatre.com.

“It’s fun to go back to the roots of the Fort Knox Five sound and go back to the O.G. soul-funk breaks, the ’60s- and ’70s-influenced kind of stuff and give it a monster beat,” Raskin said.

As a performer, Raskin and Fort Knox Five have played sets from small clubs to large arenas. Saturday’s show is a DJ set where Raskin will be dropping samples amid new rhythms and beats. He’s a music lover and musician, always on the search for new sounds to weave into his set, a set that’s dictated by the scene.

“From playing new music every week, week in week out, there’s always a new favorite track. So that set is constantly changing for me,” Raskin said. “I love to know where I’m starting and I love to know where I finish. And that’s based on the time I’m playing. What’s the slot? Am I headlining, is it at the close of the night, or is it 2 in the morning, or is it midnight? All of these things are a factor because sound and music should reflect the time and the energy and the vibe of the place.”

One scene that remains a favorite of Raskin’s is Durango. For years, the Animas City Theatre and local promoter Eugene Salaz has done what he can to book Washington, D.C., musicians who run with the Fort Knox Five and Thievery Corporation crowd. They’ve come to love Durango.

“Durango is a special place,” Raskin said. “I always love playing Durango because people love dancing. No spoilers, but I guarantee you will have a good time.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.