The funk legend performs tonight at the House of Blues with DJ Soul Sister opening. Show time is 9 PM.
Last week, Soul Sister presented an all P-Funk show on her regular Thursday night program on WWOZ. As I grooved to the music, the depth of Clinton’s musical catalog struck me. It’s not that I was unaware of this, I have nearly every commercially released album, but sometimes you take for granted what’s in your collection if you haven’t dug deep recently.
Clinton’s music spans six decades from searing, twisted psychedelia through earphone-necessary, horn-driven soul and into the hip hop era.
I have been seeing Clinton and the various permutations of Parliament and Funkadelic since the early 1980s when he attracted a mostly African American audience. But the jam band scene, the use of so much of his music in hip hop samples and wider acceptance of his role as the godfather of funk has changed that. Now his shows draw a mostly white audience.
I also think that his groundbreaking role on the second Lollapalooza tour back in 1994 played a part in exposing Clinton and his incredible live shows to a bigger audience. Here’s a piece that I wrote back in the day about that show.
“Though A Tribe Called Quest, the Beastie Boys, the Breeders and the Smashing Pumpkins were on the bill, the draw for me was a set by George Clinton and the P-Funk Allstars. Since that fateful show on the Riverboat President back in 1983 (when I first saw the band), I had become a die-hard fan and had seen him with various incarnations of his band numerous times.
Even though the set at Lollapalooza was short by Clinton’s marathon performance standards, there was one moment that is worth relating. During “Red Hot Mama from Louisiana,” a song from early in his career that he rarely played, the crowd began throwing water bottles and empty cups in the air.
Clinton’s band was filled with peripheral singers and rappers and some of them got into the act and began throwing stuff back into the crowd. The sky was literally filled with bottles and cups. As the band just ripped through the song, many in the crowd had their hands overhead protecting themselves. Those who looked up, if they didn’t get beaned, saw a sight that looked exactly like a scene in the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds except that the birds were plastic bottles.”
As my colleague Geraldine Wyckoff says, “Don’t miss the legends.”