Arlington Live Music Examiner: Keeping Funk alive

by Vincent Brown

FunkadelicWho is keeping Funk alive?  At least three funk bands were directly affected by the death of legendary Funk guitarist Garry Shider on June 16, 2010.  Funk stars of the seventies are getting old.  George Clinton and the P-Funk All-stars will be taking the stage without the man in a diaper.  They are keeping the Funk alive.  The Mothership has been in orbit and is going to land October 15, in Prairie View, TX.  Prairie View A&M University, you are now “Standing on the Verge of Getting it on” with George Clinton and the P-Funk All-stars.

The 420 Funk Mob is one of several bands that are connected to George Clinton and the P-Funk All-stars. They are based in Woodstock, NY.  When asked what the 420 Funk Mob is about, band leader Mike “Clip” Payne says, ” This is what we do on our off days from touring the Parliament-Funkadelic.” The 420FM has been everything between a stripped down six piece psychedelic funk band to an eighteen piece funk orchestra with horns, strings, five guitar players, and assorted background singers. Legendary Funk pioneer George Clinton had his first 420 FM experience in 2001 at New York’s historic club, the Wetlands. He came back to join the band for sold out shows at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ, the Haunt in Ithaca, NY, and a two show day at Bard and Vassar colleges in upstate New York. Sometimes the 420 Funk Mob brings in icons like Fred Wesley from the JB’s, jazz man Stanley Jordan, or Bad Brains founders Dr. Know and Daryl Jenifer to jam with them. 420 FM members include: Mike “Clip” Payne on lead vocals and bassists Lige Curry, Billy Bass Nelson, Skeet Curtis, Fred Cash Jr, and Derrik Davis; guitarists Mike “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton, Garry “Starchild” Shider (R.I.P.), Rickey Rouse, Dewayne “Blackbyrd McKnight, Ted Orr, Adam Widoff, Ron Priest Smith, Jeremy Bernstein, The Flash, Eric McFadden, Jen Leigh, and Joey Eppard; drummers Gabe Gonzalez, Zach Alford, Chicken Burke, and Gartdrumm; keyboard players Danny Bedrosian, Peter Keys, Greg Fitz, and Ross Rice; horn players Greg Thomas, Fred Wesley, Paul Henderson, Dave Cast, Dean Jones, and Shane Kirsch; vocalists The LAW, Avalon, Kendra Foster, Toshi Reagon, and Rock Attack 10.

Mike ‘Clipadelic’ Payne is the ring leader of the super-group DRUGS that included Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Garry Shider, as well as Rickey Rouse, Danny Bedrosian, and Lige Curry of P-funk; Adam Widoff, Fred Cash Jr., and Chicken Burke of Big Lovely; Joey Eppard of 3; Stephanie McKay; and Jen Leigh of Kelis . George Clinton joins DRUGS on on their track “Sanitation Engineer”. DRUGS has opened for George and the P-Funk several times. DRUGS is based in Woodstock, NY.  Their live performances are legendary. They debuted in Europe at the worlds largest new music festival, the Transmusicales. The band made an appearance at the 39th Super Bowl in Jacksonville Florida as part of the official ESPN/NFL Tailgate Party Band. In 2006 they were the first band to perform live on Sirius Satellite Radio’s first day of world wide internet broadcasting.

Danny Bedrosian and Secret Army invade Salvador Deli at 3215 North Davidson Street, Charlotte, NC 28205-1033 at 8 pm, on Saturday, October 30. Based in Florida, Danny Bedrosian is the current keyboardist for George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars, as well as a half a dozen other bands around the nation and the world.  He is also the lead vocalist, keyboardist, producer, chief songwriter, arranger and publisher for Secret Army.  The band includes Parliament-Funkadelic/P-Funk All Stars stalwarts Dewayne Blackbyrd McKnight on lead guitar, and Lige Curry on bass guitar. On drums is Rico Lewis, who is George Clinton and The P-Funk All-Stars’ main drummer, The guitar section includes Marc Munoz and Mike Maloney. Additional vocals are handled by Parliament-Funkadelic vocalist Kendra Foster, Teresa Jimenez, and Moon Child. They follow Charlotte with a show at The Court Tavern, 124 Church St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-2002 on Tuesday, November 2, at 9 pm.

Cheers to the new and old bands that are keeping Funk alive in the DMV!  They hail from upstate NY, Virginia, DC and Maryland.  Below are some bands that have been keeping DC, Maryland, and Virginia funky.

The Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown goes to Strathmore with the sound he created right here in Washington, DC. Deeply rooted in funk, jazz, Latin and soul, Go-Go’s syncopated beats and nonstop rhythms keep the crowd moving from start to finish. Chuck Brown announces, “Ticket giveaway contest time! We’ll be playing the beautiful Strathmore Music Center (5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, MD 20852-3385) on Saturday Oct 30th. For a chance to win a pair of tickets, email me at with the subject CHUCK at STRATHMORE OCT 30. Good luck!”

Mambo Sauce is keeping Funk alive with The Five One at Jammin Java, 227 Maple Ave E, Vienna, VA 22180-4630, Saturday, October 9 at 7:00pm. Black Boo (Vocalist/Rapper), JC (Vocalist), Pep (Percussionist), Chris (Keyboard), Twink (Drums), and Khari (Bassist) continue their quest to take Go-go worldwide. Jammin Java is located at: 227 Maple Avenue East, Vienna, VA

Sophistafunk came through Whitlow’s on Wilson last Thursday, September 30.  They came all the way from Syracuse, NY to Arlington with that upstate funk sound.  A funky drummer named Emanual Washington, a keyboard player named Adam Gold and an MC named Jack Brown will make you shake what your mama gave ya!

Whitlow’s on Wilson featured the funky DJ Williams Projekt September 9 and October 1.  The Richmond based group consists of  funky drummer Dusty Simmons, DJ Williams on guitar and vocals, bass player Todd Herrington, Gordon Jones on sax and vocals and Joey Ciucci on Keys.  They showed off their original funk tunes from their third studio CD and kept the crowd grooving.

Funk U performs Friday, October 22, at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, 1725 Columbia Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009-2803. Funk U is a group of musicians who are dedicated to the Real Funk. Their goal is to bring back that old school seventies and early eighties sound and create that live party atmosphere. The members are Craig Stevens on bass, Alex on rhythm and lead guitar, Damien on vocals and guitar, and Mel on drums. The show starts at 8 pm

Back to Zero plays funk and R&B cover songs. Their next public performance will be Friday October 22, at Whitlows on Wilson, 2854 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. This band keeps the dance floor packed!  Is Whitlow’s now the home of Funk in NOVA?

Please add your favorite funk band in the comments section.

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