Gettin’ Funked Up

 

Funkadelic_-_America_Eats_Its_YoungBack in the early 70s when I was just a little girl, my late brother, who was 10 years older than me, loved the Funkadelic and Jimmy Hendrix. He’d play the music in his room, and to me, it was just LOUD and not particularly good music. But I remember those early Funkadelic albums, the self titled Funkadelic (1970), Maggot Brain (1971), America Eats Its Young (1972).  I was 10 years old in 1972, and something was beginning to happen. That album with the dollar bill was getting my attention.

By the time I was 13, my brother had moved out, and Parliament released Mothership Connection, and I had to have that album for myself. It was the bass lines, the funky beats, the repetition of the words “Aw, we want the funk. Gotta have that funk,” and the total musicality of it all. Come 1976 they released Clones of Dr. Funkenstein, then Funkentelechy Vs. the  Placebo Syndrome in ’77 and “Flashlight” was thee song. But, ohh, when Funkadelic released the track One Nation Under a Groove in 1978! My mind reeled. Who does lyrics like “One nation under a groove. Getting down just for the funk of it”? This was a song of freedom.

The late 70s/early 80s in Detroit dropped the Electrifying Mojo on WGPR (107.5) radio station at 10 p.m., and he called a community together for the mythical landing of The Mothership every week night, and we were all part of his Midnight Funk Association. As a show of solidarity, Mojo urged his listeners to turn on our porch lights. (I think I did it once.) Although I had much of the P-Funk music Mojo played, it was magical listening to it over the radio. This was “my” music.”R-3000728-1311119353

 

Who’s Got the Funk?

Fast forward to 2007, and I’m a freelance writer for the Detroit News, assigned to write a preview story about George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic’s performance at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. I honestly didn’t think I’d get an interview with George Clinton, so I went for Amp Fiddler who played keys with the band from 1985-1996. And through various channels George Clinton called me! The interview was Sept. 5, 2007 (I still have the notes taken in longhand). It was the interview of a lifetime! You can read the article here.

Fast forward, again to today. I’m working on creative communications with the non-profit arts organization O.N.E. Mile Project that is set on revitalizing a one mile stretch of Oakland Avenue in Detroit’s historic North End. Now, the North End, the story goes is where P-Funk started out, performing at Phelps Lounge.  O.N.E. Mile is a partnership between MODCaR and the Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition (OAAC), whose members – artistic visionaries, they are – came up with the grandiose idea to create their version of the Mothership, calling it the O.N.E. Mile Mothership… and it’s no light weight endeavor. We’re not talking paper mache, and plastic here. We’re talking architectural design, welders, builders, steel and lights and hands on work from the community.

Knee Deep

Rehearsal montage

Top – (front) TFO Horns, 2nd row – Carl “Butch” Small, Bryce Detroit, O.N.E. Mile Music Curator; back – Walter “Hazmat” Howard Middle – (background) T Money Green; (left) TFO Horns w/Mike Munford on sax; (right) Carl “Butch” Small Bottom – (left-right) Walter “Hazmat” Howard, Dumini Deporres

There’s a caveat. The organization has gathered an intergenerational group of P-Funk alumnus to give an hour-long Legacy of Funk Performance Saturday, Oct. 11, at the reveal of… the O.N.E. Mile Mothership. With the performance, they aim to show how hip-hop is directly connected to P-Funk and Detroit. While George Clinton is not directly involved, the true flavor of his music is there. They’ve been in rehearsals all week, and I’ve been in the room a few times. Coordinating the band is Carl “Butch” Small, P-Funk percussionist who also played for Death Row records projects. The players are the TFO Horns – Mo Dean (sax), KG (trumpet), Lou (trombone) – T-Money Green (bass), Walter “Hazmat” Howard (keyboard), Gabe Gonzalez (drums), Duminie Deporres (guitar), Dames Brown – a powerful singing trio produced by Amp Fiddler – and DJ Los on turntables.  The sound has been amazing.

Funny how this music takes me back to 1979 high school nights, sitting in front of the big stereo/radio console in the darkened living room at home, listening to the Electrifying Mojo like there was nothing else in the world but that moment… every night. The memory just… feels good.

This experience has taught me… what goes around, comes back around… in an extra funky way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments
  1. Ha ha, it’s “Back to the Future” for you Mz Daniel.
    Thanks for sharing your retrospective musical journey with us.

  2. Lol! You’re right, Shannyn. Thank you for reading.

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