George Clinton and War revisit the foundations of funk n’ soul

George Clinton Photo by Andy Argyrakis
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In what’s becoming an almost annual tradition, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic once again led the 2015 installment of the Chicago Funk Fest at The Venue At Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, though this year the pioneer of the P-Funk brand and his colorfully dressed cohorts also brought along the belated new project “First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate.” The triple disc set marked the first new material to bear Funkadelic’s namesake since 1981, and given that lengthy gap, consists of no less than 33 tracks, though the troupe still spent most of its set on a celebrated catalogue that’s probably become the most extensively sampled in the entire history of hip-hop.

Besides serving as an entertaining standalone concert, this year’s installment of the Funk Fest also gave a varied overview of a style that may not always get as many shout outs as it deserves these days, but continues to burn bright in the hearts of hearts of those who continue to live by the groove.

War

Photo by Andy Argyrakis

Now 74 and completely clean, Clinton swapped his signature braids for a suit as he directed the all-star band through trippy psychedelic experiments “Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow” and “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” alongside the straight-up dance direction of “Flash Light” (augmented by the always outrageous Sir Nose). As the group rounded the bases with “Atomic Dog” and “Give Up the Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” at lightning speed (which could’ve easily warranted a second half stuffed with just as much material), the aisles continued to fill with a multi-cultural melting pot, suggesting these otherworldly beats are likely to keep uniting “One Nation Under A Groove” long after “Dr. Funkenstein” hangs up his “Bop Gun” for good.

Prior to Parliament Funkadelic, fellow genre fire-starters turned crossover favorites War turned in a blistering, socio-politically themed hour spanning the late 1960s through today. Like the headliners, the Lonnie Jordan-led veterans are also celebrating the release of “Evolutionary” after a 20 year hiatus from the studio, though the sounds contained therein were right in step with other undated oldies like “Me And Baby Brother,” “Slippin’ Into Darkness,” “Galaxy,” and “Ballero.”

Although War wasn’t able to get to everything given members’ propensity to jam well beyond radio length (most surprisingly “Spill The Wine”), the current line-up demonstrated a flawless mastery of the material, especially during the closing triple play of “The Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” and “Lowrider.” Besides serving as an entertaining standalone concert, this year’s installment of the Funk Fest also gave a varied overview of a style that may not always get as many shout outs as it deserves these days, but continues to burn bright in the hearts of hearts of those who continue to live by the groove.


Funk Fest fans may also be interested in the following upcoming concerts at The Venue At Horseshoe Casino: Floetry with Rahsaan Patterson on Sunday, June 21; Dave Koz & Friends featuring Rick Braun, Kenny Lattimore and Reginald T. McCants on Saturday, July 25; KEM with Vivian Green on Sunday, July 26; Martin Lawrence on Saturday, August 29; Willie Nelson on Friday, September 18 and Festival Of Praise starring Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin and many more (for two shows) on Saturday, November 21. For additional details, visit www.thevenuechicago.com and www.ticketmaster.com.

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