In the mid 1970s, Parliament Funkadelic embarked on the P-Funk Earth Tour. Like many artists in the 1970s, P-Funk spared no expense when it came to stage props and costumes. The centerpiece of the tour, the Mothership, is so culturally significant that the Smithsonian has it on permanent display.
P-Funk will be at Artpark on Tuesday along with its founder, George Clinton. The 77-year-old singer, songwriter, bandleader, record producer and pioneering funk master has billed this tour as his last. It is hard to take him too seriously because if there is one guy that could successfully lead a band after he turn 80 years old, it’s George Clinton.
One-of-kind is a term that gets bandied around all too often, but in this case, George Clinton is one of those performers who has made a career out of being unique. Before Parliament-Funkadelic was a thing, he recorded separately under the names Parliament and the name Funkadelic. He also recorded his biggest hit, “Atomic Dog” under the name George Clinton.
In 1997, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted a whopping 16 members of P-Funk, including its leader, Mr. George Clinton. That still only represents a small fraction of the well over 100 musicians that have contributed to the group.
This year, P-Funk received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, adding an exclamation point to what has been a storied career.
Even with all the history, the accolades and the spaced-out themes interspersed in the music, Clinton and P-Funk’s popularity is due to the quality of the musicians he surrounds himself with, and the fact the guy clearly knows how to have a lot of fun on and offstage, and not take himself too seriously. That makes him a solid addition to the Tuesday series.
Fans will get to hear classics with titles like “Baby Keeps Fonkin’ it Up” and “Maggot Brain.” And even without the Mothership hovering overhead you can count on some colorful outfits and a lot of dancing in the aisles.
If it does turn out to be Clinton’s last appearance with P-Funk, it likely isn’t the last appearance of P-Funk. Even without their charismatic leader, P-Funk has become more like a philosophical approach to music than a band with irreplaceable members. It’s like a symp-funkic orchestra that can last generations.
Clinton’s legacy will remain intact as well. His music has been sampled by many hip-hop artists, and there probably will be many more as long as hip hop music remains popular.
For fans hoping to catch Galactic on Tuesday, they had to bow out of the show. That means more time for Fishbone and Miss Velvet and the Blue Wolf.
Fishbone has been around since 1979, and flirted with mainstream success in the late 1980s. The group combines ska, punk, funk, rock, reggae and soul, and may be best known for their concert T-shirts. John Cusak is seen wearing one in the famous scene in “Say Anything,” which has Cusak holding up a boombox and blasting “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. (Legend has it that Cusak was actually playing a Fishbone song and that “In Your Eyes” was overdubbed later)
Miss Velvet and the Blue Wolf get the evening started. The band formed three years ago but their influences include a diverse range of classic artists ranging from Robert Plant to James Brown to Janis Joplin.
Tickets for the show start at $19 and are available at the Artpark box office or online at Tickets.com.
Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.