Once you get into P-Funk, it’s hard to get out. Just ask some of the musicians who have been part of Parliament-Funkadelic and its spinoff bands for decades, or their children. It’s also true for people who appreciate the music. The lyrics, riffs, energy and imagery that makes up their catalog is enough to music to keep you under the influence for a long time. If your’re not careful, you might find yourself in funk rehab.
I’ve stepped away from the mothership music for several years, getting my funk fix from rare grooves, modern soul and 90′s hip hop. But last night’s performance by the Original P has me jonesin’ again. Led by the sole original member, Grady Thomas, features family members of P-funk greats, such as Kevin Shider, the brother of Gary Shider. Last night they were joined by former members and local guys Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey on drums and vocalist Larry “Sir Nose” Hextal, for two shows at the Richmond Folk Festival.
The first show ran like a old locomotive, slowly chugging it’s way uphill, building momentum but never reaching top speed. The second show made the first look like a dress rehearsal. If I didn’t know so much about the performance history of the band, I would have thought they rehearsed during the four hours between their sets. Songs that sputtered in the first set shone the second time around. The band was tighter, yet more relaxed.
Folk festival organizers should have known that once the funk gets rolling it’s hard to stop. After announcing their departure after “Atomic Dog,” most of the band stayed on the stage, amid cheers of “We Want the Funk.” After their pleas were denied by the festival folk, guitarist Skyntight urged the crowd to take a stand and “Occupy the Folk Festival,” and they did, until his microphone was shut off and replaced with muzak.