George Clinton Funk Litmus Test (See Below) E-mail
by Bruce Madden

funkadelic |ˌfə ng kəˈdelik|
denoting a type of dance music that combines funk with elements
(such as the use of highly amplified guitars and a heavy drumbeat)
derived from rock.
funkadelia |-ˈdēlēə| noun
ORIGIN 1970s: from the name of a pop group, formed c. 1970, from
funk squared + a shortened form of psychedelic.

-New Oxford American Dictionary

The night was all about the funk (accurately defined above) for George Clinton and his band Parliament Funkadelic at The Intersection in Grand Rapids during the music festival Prospecto 2011 on Ocober 1, 2011.

Funkadelia and nothing but funkadelia: Loud guitar courtesy of Michael Hampton and drums pummeled with voluminous precision and plenty of bass guitar bottom easily embodied that aspect of the definition during the concert.

Parliament Funkadelic, sans leader, warmed up the audience with two songs, getting to the stage shortly after midnight, about 35 minutes or so after the expected start of the show.

Clinton, 70, slowly and mysteriously appeared from offstage during the third number making his way to center stage. He projected the appearance of an African American, psychedelic Native American shaman. The crowd, somewhat sparse, enthusiastically greeted Clinton who raised his arms aloft, and smiled at the crowd throughout the entrance song.

The master of funk wore a headdress fashioned from pelts and faux buffalo horns. Clinton also sported a long blue coat stitched and emblazoned with various funk messages and symbols that contributed to the medicine man effect. A chair was placed in front of the drums for any moments the septuagenarian might need a rest. For the record, Clinton remained on his feet most of the night, clapping and grooving while interspersing vocals or comments ("Free your mind and your ass will follow.") over the course of the next two and half hours.

The event was advertised as a one-hour concert but intuition tells me that Clinton needed to funktify Grand Rapids, and once the funk was cranked up, only he would decide when to stop. No one seemed to mind.

Clinton's funk music requires intricate ensemble collaboration and aside from featuring excellent musicians, this form takes some of the performance weight off their spry leader's shoulders. None of the featured musicians disappointed when various band members stepped forward to sing or solo on various instruments including the guitar, sax and trumpet.

One oddly familiar member, Mr. Nose dressed in a broad brimmed white furry hat with matching pants and opened furry jacket implored the crowd through timeless hand gestures to get funky. His muscular, bared torso bumped along to the beat while he performed contortions on the stage and atop one of the main speakers.

The crowd shouted their approval for and sang along with familiar songs: "One Nation Under A Groove," "Cosmic Slop," "We Want The Funk," "Flash Light" and "Maggot Brain." The latter song featured a very long extended, fiery guitar solo by Michael Hampton featuring fast fretwork and psychedelic feedback.

We wanted the funk and Clinton and his band served it up hard, heavy and funky.

Bruce Madden is the former entertainment czar for Music Revue and founding member of the blues group The T-BONES. He is currently living in self-imposed exile at an undisclosed location, creating music and photographing subjects of interest. Photos also by Bruce Madden.


Published: October 2, 2011

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