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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Review: Sheila E. – Atlanta, GA

Posted by funkatop On November - 14 - 2016 1 COMMENT

Sheila E. stage in Atlanta

Let’s face it. No disrespect to Prince‘s ex-wives, but Sheila E. was always his true soulmate.

She pushed him, shared his work ethic, her life (like his) revolved around music, and you could literally watch Prince blossom into childlike uninhibited bliss whenever she was around. It was as if his entire performance was designed to impress the one true love of his life.

His perfect muse that perfectly complimented him in every way. So when he passed away, there was really only one person who could truly offer a honorable tribute to him and that was undeniably Sheila E..

However, for those expecting Sheila E. to do her show that focused primarily on her music, they would be very disappointed. The folks not disappointed would be Prince fans.  Her setlist was literally a full blown homage to Prince with all of the usual suspects and many surprises. She played more Prince songs than she did her own.

What’s even more refreshing is that from viewing the setlists from other cities on this tour, she has a full library of Prince songs she could perform on any given night which is fantastic considering that bands like The Time will relentlessly play the same setlist for years.

Sheila E. in Atlanta

The show was full of dancing, tears and love including a version of her song Rockstar that incorporated bits and pieces of Purple Rain sharing the closing guitar solo and overall chord progressions.

That was followed by a heartfelt song written by Sheila E. and her keyboardist entitled Girl Meets Boy which pays homage to Prince and is offered as a free download on her website.

There was also a tear filled discussion on Prince, her love for him and the need for more love in the world where she then proceeded to have everyone in the theater hug someone next to them.

Sheila had a very hard time holding it together during her speech simply because she was fully aware that she was in the same city that housed Prince‘s final performance on the earth and that really struck a difficult chord for her, but it didn’t stop her celebration of his life and music which took center stage for the evening.

The night was full of surprises including a performance of Leader Of The Band (co-written by Prince) that was made all the more magical as she was joined onstage by her father Pete Escovedo who even brought his own monologue about the elections, along with hilarious anecdotes about Trump becoming President and that he would be sent back to Mexico. But he didn’t mind since he had a beautiful hacienda on the beach where he would simply drink tequila and smoke reefer. And not for medicinal purposes.

As for the Prince surprises, all of the expected songs raised their heads including Love Bizarre, Glamorous Life and Erotic City.  Then there were others like Sign O’ The Times, U Got The Look, Alphabet Street, Raspberry Beret, and some a little more surprising such as 17 Days, The Word, AmericaGet On The Boat and many more.

She performed a nice selection of her own material including a few from her new album Icon, including the aforementioned Leader Of the Band and Rockstar, Mona Lisa and a couple of her deeper classics like Holly Rock and Belle Of St. Mark.

All in all, it was a beautiful night (no pun intended) and there were a plenty of fans adorning Prince shirts everywhere. While we were aware of her previous tour that was specifically designed to honor Prince, the performance in Atlanta was not billed that way, so many were surprised, but none complained. Atlanta definitely got a dose of purple. We’ve included the setlist below.

Sheila E.’s tour is coming to a close but she still has some cities on the books and if you’re extremely lucky to be on her radar, get there. It will be many years before the very mention of Prince‘s passing doesn’t cause Prince fans hearts to skip a beat, but if you need a place to celebrate his life and music, nobody does it better than the great, beautiful, talented, Sheila E..

Sheila E.
11-12-2016 Setlist

When Doves Cry
Erotic City
Let’s Work
U Got The Look
The Love Bizarre
Jazz Instrumental Interlude
Cat’s rap from It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night
Instrumental w/ Eddie M solo
P Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) – sung by Lynn Mabry
One Nation Under a Groove – sung by Lynn Mabry
If You Want Me To Stay – sung by Lynn Mabry
Diamonds and Pearls – sung by Ashley Cole
Introduction of Pete Escovedo
Leader Of The Band
The Word – sung by Ashley Cole
Get On The Boat
Drum Solo
17 Days
Alphabet Street
Raspberry Beret
Mona Lisa
Rockstar (with Purple Rain pieces)
Girl Meets Boy
Sheila Speak
Old Skool
Holly Rock
Belle of St. Mark
Baby I’m a Star
Glamorous Life

Band Lineup

Sheila E. – Vocals, drums and percussion
Eddie M – Sax
John – Drums
Michael Gabriel – Guitar
Lynn Mabry – Background vocals
Ashley Cole – Background vocals
Bertran Curtis – Keyboards

Bear Creek Bayou 2016: The Hibernation

Posted by funkatop On October - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

George ClintonBefore you read this, you need to know my stance with the Bear Creek Festival. I love Bear Creek and all of the musicians that are regularly involved, but something had dramatically changed this year. The attention to detail, the audience, the volumes of people, the marketing, and just the whole vibe. The level of talent you expected to see was still present, but the execution was disastrous.

I had been invited to attend Bear Creek Bayou in New Orleans for shows on September 29 and October 1 that brought headliners George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, The Flaming Lips and many of the Bear Creek mainstays including Lettuce, Karl Denson, Soulive, etc. It was too be held at Mardi Gras World to facilitate the large crowds that they had anticipated.

LettuceI should have written this review a week ago because all of the bands were magic, but the festival itself had taken an awkward turn and I debated on even writing this specific opening content.  If I ignored the glaring obvious issues and just wrote about the bands, I would have sacrificed my journalistic integrity. The pieces that literally everyone was talking about.

Fast forward to when the event was over late Saturday night on October 1st. Members of Dumpstaphunk were gathering together to do a benefit for Bernie Worrell at The Howlin’ Wolf with special guests from Lettuce, Soulive and others. It was going to be worth it to make it out.

I called Lyft to take a ride down to the club and during the small talk, she discovered that I was in town for Bear Creek Bayou and informed me that I just happened to land the same driver who had just got done taking the members of The Flaming Lips to another club just minutes before.

Inside CrowdI didn’t share anything about details of the show, but she said it. “They seem like a fun band. But all they could talk about was how it was the smallest audience they had played for in years.” There it was. It wasn’t just internal murmurs anymore.

In essence, the festival isn’t just the bands. It’s the venue, the crowd control, the staff, the vendors, and other intangibles.  However, the most outstanding element on everyone’s mind’s was the attendance to the point where you thought that something may be wrong. The photo above was literally a majority of the crowd to see one of the inside bands.

The Flaming LipsThe Flaming Lips had just played for maybe 2,000 people? While it’s hard to gauge audience numbers, I was able to stand comfortably in the middle of the crowd and move around for photos without any problems.

This is a band that plays to a sea of tens of thousands of people pressed together like sardines. Bear Creek Bayou presented them to a crowd that was more along the lines of 2,000 at best and most were simply milling around enjoying the show. It’s great for the concert fan, but really bad for the festival. So what happened?

The truth is that the marketing was almost non-existent. Funkatopia is a funk website that brings in thousands of people to this website every single day. A targeted audience of funk music lovers. Plus we have an online radio show streaming from the website, as well as on mobile devices via apps for I-Phone and Android that pump out music 24/7 to thousands of listeners every month. And let’s not forget about the social media presence with thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers. All targeted to Bear Creek’s demographic. Music fans who love funk.

Parliament dancerWe offered access to all of the resources to the ordained marketing group that was charged to promote Bear Creek and were met with total silence. We had to send a dozen emails to simply get permission to even attend as press. We sent emails to our marketing contact requesting for them to send us banners, photos, interviews, giveaways, and even offered to do an “all Bear Creek” radio show to do a full blown broadcast promoting the event and its performers. Nothing.

We were apparently “lucky” enough to even be given permission to come in to take photos.

In a town that many have ordained as the roots of funk in the states, nobody in the New Orleans music industry that we had spoken with even knew that the Bear Creek event was happening. Music industry professionals we knew that would have loved to attend, but had no idea it was there.  Our online search for New Orleans concerts when we arrived produced no results with exception to the BandsInTown app. The end result was a fantastic musical event that very few got to experience.

This obviously had an effect on incredible lesser known bands like Smoke N Bones, Gravity A, Pirate’s Choice and others that played to their friends or a crowd of a dozen or less. Bands that should have been enjoying the opportunity to play for fans of the similar bands on the bill, but instead ended up with not much more than they could have gathered at their own local events.

All that being said, it was still great music with amazing performances that we hope is going to be able to continue in lieu of the shortcomings, but this certainly had to be a huge financial hit with the lack of marketing and worse, the lack of any substantial audience to come out and see the performers.

With exception to The Flaming Lips and George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, the lineup for the festival was the expected standard fare for a Bear Creek show. The funky cajun Zach Deputy, the ethereal funk of Lettuce, the hip hop stylings of Jurassic 5‘s Chali 2na, the darkness of The Budos Band, and driving force of Dumpstaphunk. They were all in attendance with exception of The New Mastersounds, but even guitarist Eddie Roberts still made an appearance with Foundation of Funk and bassist Pete Shand sat in with Bernard Purdie.

The bands also took an opportunity to try out their solo projects such as Dumpstaphunk guitarist Tony Hall performing a James Brown Tribute with the Tony Hall Band. Lettuce keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall had his own project as well. Drummer for The Nth Power Nikki Glaspie sat in her old drummer position for Dumpstaphunk and didn’t miss a beat. And even Lettuce trumpeter Benny Bloom had his own project with his Horns-A-Plenty.

The FlooziesThere were so many delightful surprises this year such as The Floozies giving a great tech set with amazing energy and bands like Papadosio and Lotus that played jams from alternate plains. Then there were the sleeper bands that caught folks off-guard like Flowtribe, Smoke N Bones, Pirate’s Choice and many others.

This years festival also had some great artists at large including Pee Wee Ellis, Jennifer Hartswick, George Porter Jr., Natalie Kressman, Skerik and others. Not to mention the great John Medeski, Zigaboo Modeliste, and many artists that weren’t even touted as “at large” but that still found their way to many stages including Ivan Neville and pretty much all of the members of Soulive.

The bands were allocated to three stages. Two of which were outdoors next to each other and when one would end, the next was right there to start seamlessly. The third stage, however, was indoors and seemed to be on its own schedule. That created about the only complaint musically which was the consistent overlapping of bands that pitted phenomenal acts against each other. Both vying for the already slim audience.

Why was it necessary to make us decide whether to see the Godfather of funk, George Clinton and Parliament or go inside to see the the formidable Bernard Purdie playing with an all star band featuring Ivan Neville on keys, Pimps of Joytime guitarist Brian J, and New Mastersounds bassist Pete Shand?

Budos BandI spoke at length with many other press members there and we agree that the music was exceptional, but the conversation all ended up in the same place. Will there even be a Bear Creek next year? While we aren’t privy to the politics or financials, we did hear about a management change and we know first-hand that there was a marketing company change.

The end result was a great show, but it left a lot of questions as to the future of the show. We’ve said it before that Bear Creek is easily one of the best funk festivals out there and this year was no exception. The music is almost never a problem even if there were some strange additions that don’t really fit sometimes, but the finished product is always fun.

The marketing very simply was non-existent and probably the primary component to the crowd outcome. Because of our love for Bear Creek, we went way above and beyond to offer our resources to help promote the event, but it seemed that there was a wealth of disconnects and hoops of fire to jump through for their marketing reps to get the approvals they needed in a timely manner. Either way, somebody was asleep at the wheel or possibly even more terrifying is that maybe someone that’s an important link in the chain just doesn’t care.

Either way, if they can’t make enough money to stay afloat, then the fingers will start getting pointed and it could have disastrous consequences. It’s got us very, very worried, but we’re here to help in any way we can. Keep the funk alive!

Check all of the amazing photos via Facebook here.

Review: Prince, Piano & A Microphone – Atlanta

Posted by funkatop On April - 15 - 2016 51 COMMENTS

Prince Concert - Sold Out

Prince came into Atlanta on April 14,2016 after a 12 year hiatus like a man on a mission to prove that a) he hasn’t lost a beat, and b) to hand deliver audio perfection in the form of 2 shows at 7pm and 10pm at The Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta, GA. Two sold out shows of 4,678 seats each (9,356 total for you math junkies.)

The Prince, Piano and a Microphone tour was here. The tour originally scheduled for the previous week was postponed a week later due to Prince being ill with the flu, but now he was better and to make good on a great show.

The ambiance was palpable from the moment you arrived as those that were close to the stage were greeted with a light wave of incense that filled the air.  On stage, a single piano spotlighted by two purple stage lights that sat in front of a large screen showcasing kaleidoscope style graphics.

Each side of the stage had its own candelabra and a stool with three candles. Occasionally, the setting was breezed with a small dusting from fog machines and you knew something special was going to happen.

The 7pm Show

IMG_20160414_173627As the lights faded for the 7pm show, the crowd swept into a screaming frenzy as the large screen displayed the brightly colored graphic of the afro’ed Prince with his eyes closed and his 3rd eye. Slowly the graphic begins to fade only to be eventually replaced by a grid of similar colorful graphics that  you’ve seen around the web similar to the Hit N Run album covers.

Then a blast of color and you witness the silhouette of Prince and his now notorious cane. The screen rises and out walks Prince awash in bright yellow light. The crowd screams intensify for what seems like minutes, and finally as the screen closes, he struts the stage and it’s official. He’s arrived.

He starts the show with a slow instrumental tune that serves as the background for his apologies for the cancellation and then the setlist begins;

Little Red Corvette
Dirty Mind
back into Little Red Corvette
Linus and Lucy (The Peanuts theme)
B-side Song (Nobody Do It Like I Do)
Nothing Compares 2 U

As he finishes the song, he walks around the stage as if he can’t stand it and the crowd stands in agreement with him and they don’t sit again until he does. The entirety of the show, the screen behind him dances with kaleidoscope graphics. Some dizzying and some just plain mesmerizing to watch.

He then begins to share a story about his father and how he taught him piano. The back cover of the program offered at the merchandise table also dedicates the tour to his father. He reflects a bit and then the setlist continues;

Joy in Repetition
Muse 2 The Pharaoh
U Got The Look
Pop Life
Elephants & Flowers
Never Take The Place Of Ur Man
A Case Of You (Joni Mitchell)
I Feel 4 U
The Most Beautiful Girl In the World
I Would Die 4 U
Baby, I’m a Star

He thanks Atlanta and leaves the stage. Not so fast.

Encore 1
Heroes (David Bowie)

He tries to leave again knowing that there’s a crowd gathering outside for an oncoming 10pm show. The 7pm crowd isn’t having it.

Encore 2
Diamonds and Pearls
The Beautiful Ones
back into Adore
Do Me Baby
I Wanna B Ur Lover

Realizing that time has run out, he gets up to leave one more time, but walks back to the piano for one last song,

Encore 3

Then Prince grabs his cane and exits the stage.

The 7pm show lasted about 1 hour, 20 minutes, but it was a lot of show and there was still one show to go.

The 10pm Show

IMG_20160414_185743The 10pm appearance started off in the same way, with his entrance exactly the same, but this was a very different show and we knew it would be.  The dancing colorful kaleidoscopic images still made an appearance from time to time throughout the show, but for the 10pm show, there were photos being displayed.

To start the set, the lights dimmed and we see a pair of hands bound at the wrists. The music begins;

When Will B Paid
The Max
Black Sweat
I Would Die 4 U
Baby, I’m a Star
Ballad of Dorothy Parker
B-side Song (Indifference)
I Love U But I Don’t Trust U

Little Red Corvette

It was a non-stop onslaught of songs;

Dirty Mind
Linus and Lucy (The Peanuts theme)
back to Little Red Corvette
Nothing Compares 2 U

He thanked Atlanta and left the stage, but everyone knew it was way too soon and the library of hits hadn’t even been scratched. The show continued;

Encore 1
Black Muse

He begins a song that everyone knows and claims “Y’all ain’t ready.” and begins to walk away. The screen then shows a screen capture from the Under the Cherry Moon movie of Prince holding a phone. They know what’s coming.

How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore

He thanks Atlanta again. Not enough;

Encore 2
Waiting In Vain (Bob Marley)

If I Was Ur Girlfriend
back to Waiting In Vain

He breaks to tell the story of the movie The Way We Were and how Barbara Streisand‘s character had to call Robert Redford even after after he’d been mean to her. The screen shows the famous photo of the Hollywood duo to accentuate the song further.  “Would you run to me if somebody hurt you? Even if that somebody was me?”

back to If I Was Ur Girlfriend

Prince tries to leave again, but it’s the 10pm show and there’s no crowd waiting outside. He gives them one more dose. The screen shows a snowy street at night and the crowd knows what’s coming.

Encore 3
Sometimes It Snows In April

Purple Rain (the crowd goes nuts)
The Beautiful Ones
back to Purple Rain
Diamonds & Pearls
back to Purple Rain

This time, it’s over. And what was accomplished?

After 12 years of his absence, if anyone learned anything that night, it was that Prince is still just as incredible of a performer than he’s ever been. Who else can be in this volatile music industry for over 40 years and still sell out almost 10,000 seats in under 40 minutes within a week notice? You should have also learned that if it comes through your neck of the woods, you better get there.

And if Prince learned anything, he got a first hand look at just how badly we’ve missed him.

Y’all come back now hear?!




Review: The Purple Xperience – John’s Creek, GA

Posted by funkatop On July - 12 - 2015 3 COMMENTS

When you live near a major metropolitan area and Prince avoids your town for over 14 years (unintentionally or not), you take your fix where you can get it. So, I was thrilled when I heard that a Prince tribute band was coming to town named The Purple Xperience and even more thrilled to find out that at the helm of the keyboards was the one and only original Prince and the Revolution member Matt “Doctor” Fink.

Photo by Christine Swanson Photography

Photo by Christine Swanson Photography

Imagine my surprise when all of the preconceived notions I may have had went out the window. I knew they would open with Let’s Go Crazy. They didn’t.  I knew that they would close the entire show with Purple Rain. They didn’t. And I also knew that I would have to have a massive suspension of disbelief to feel like I was at a Prince concert. It wasn’t that massive at all and the biggest misconception was that it would not sound at all like Prince vocally. Shockingly, it did.

Fronted by the very talented Marshall Charloff, he hits all of the falsettos and screams and switches wardrobes a few times during the evening to keep the ladies in swoon. And unlike other Prince tribute bands, Marshall plays amazingly fluid guitar and great piano work as well.  The most impressive of which is the vocal work which he has nailed down to a science. Not to mention the sing alongs he leads the crowd through and the audience banter he’s nailed.

Dr. Fink was also at the top of his game with all of his trademark sound patches and riffs. When you consider that Fink actually co-wrote many of the songs you hear during the evening including Dirty Mind, America, Computer Blue and many others, it becomes much more satisfying. And let’s not forget that he is one of the pioneers of that buzzy funk we’ve all grown to love and adore. The innovator was in the house.

The rest of the band also does up the outfits to re-enact the nostalgia and complete the picture. The band stays tight and does great backup vocal work and at some points even picking up vocal nuances for Marshall to round out the sound.  From Dez’s trademark headband to Bobby Z’s perm. It was all there.

Purple Xperience 7-10-2015-026

Photo by Funkatopia

As you would expect, the band took on a very large chunk of the hits including Kiss, Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With U, Raspberry Beret, Uptown and the likes, but also broke out occasional surprises like Darling Nikki, Pop Life complete with the audio segues you hear on the album, a revamped piano version of Ballad Of Dorothy Parker, and other delights we won’t ruin for you.

In short, the Minneapolis based tribute band isn’t just any other act. It is a full blown performance juggernaut and well worth the price of admission. And for hardcore Prince fans, having Dr. Fink at the helm makes the entire experience fun and nostalgic. To make it even more incredible, it sounds truly fantastic.

If they’re coming through your town, it will definitely be worth it and the perfect itch for those towns that get neglected. Cough, cough, Atlanta, cough.

Be sure to check the full photo album on our Facebook page!

And check out their Facebook page to find out where they’re playing next!

Purple Rain Reunion Tour?

Posted by funkatop On December - 17 - 2014 21 COMMENTS

Prince and the Revolution Purple Rain reunion tour?Prince has apparently gone into hiding, which has started some crazy rumors and speculation.

The craziest one that we heard was from a trusted source who is normally on the money, but we’re thinking that this may truly be some serious wishful thinking. Stay with me…a Prince and the Revolution Purple Rain Reunion tour.

Yes, you heard right. We heard some totally unfounded and crazy  rumors that Prince was pulling together the old members of the Revolution in order to do a full blown Purple Rain reunion tour that will do Purple Rain in its entirety along the lines of what Stevie Wonder just did with his Songs In The Key Of Life tour where he plays the full album and then a handful of hits at the end.

This obviously would be “the” ticket if it were to ever happen, but we’re going to say this just isn’t happening. But the silence does make us wonder and Bobby Z having the floral decoration from the Purple Rain album cover does spark some head scratching. Could it be? That would be cray cray.

First off, if it is true, the former members (Wendy & Lisa, Bobby Z, Dez Dickerson, and Doctor Fink) are staying super quiet about it although none have divulged their location in their tweets or posts in the past month and all have also stayed suspiciously quiet compared to their normal chatter (except Dr. Fink who simply doesn’t care to tweet at all anyway).

And of course there is the passing of the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain reissue that was spoken about. Could it be that Prince had Warner Brothers hold off until the tour launched to help spark album sales?  Did he pull social media to avoid the potential leak of his plans?  Then of course, there is the dreaded…..silence….

How psyched would you be? How much would you pay to go? Do you have more fuel to add to this rumor fire? ADD IT!

Editors note (Mr. Christopher): I just don’t see this. This seems like way too big of a secret to be able to keep quiet, but I’m down. Putting aside the pennies and dimes now. If it did happen, it would be the biggest tour in the history of the world. But Dez was in the Modernaires at this point also, so not sure why he’s in the mix. Speculation.

Editor’s Update: A couple other sources came forward and indicated that this was not happening. Then another source said that they were told to say that. Considering that Prince rarely goes “back”, we’re going to file this under not true.  There would be no doubt that it would be the most amazing show ever in the history of the planet, but it would be great if Prince gave us a call to let us know what e’s up to.  We all would like to know. For now, this is the best false hope of the year.

Review: Stevie Wonder – Atlanta 11/22/2014

Posted by funkatop On November - 24 - 2014 1 COMMENT

Picture courtesy of AJCThere’s not much doubt that Stevie Wonder is the immaculate superstar. You’ll most likely never find a review of one of his shows that would be negative due to his mass library of hits, but what could have been a sleepy show in Atlanta as Stevie Wonder made a stop in the ATL supporting his current tour performing Songs In The Key Of Life in its entirety, turned out to be masterful in every sense of the word.

Most would agree that Songs In The Key of Life is one of Stevie’s best albums ever and his only double album (sans greatest hits collections), but with a track list that kicks it wide open on the first album and with exception to 1 or 2 hits, goes into a compilation of lesser known songs on the 2nd half, the end result could have been anti-climactic.  Stevie came onto the stage at sharply 8:30 while the rest of the band including string orchestra and began with introductions and prefacing the show with commentary and introducing his sons who were on hand to watch the evening’s festivities.  Co-hosting the evening and providing background vocals for most of the night was the lovely India Arie which was an added bonus with even more surprises to come.

He then began to take on the album in its original track order, but it became evident a few songs in after the barn burners of Sir Duke and I Wish, that the normal listing wouldn’t serve as a good support and songs such as Saturn and If It’s Magic were migrated to the first half as if he himself were aware of the potential to lose the less hardcore fans.  But Atlanta’s sold out Phillips Arena was filled primarily with an audience that knew exactly what they would be getting as they danced and swayed to every song.  Along with more guest surprises like jazz guitarist legend Earl Klugh.

One of the background vocalists providing the backbone for Stevie the entire night was Keith John, son of the R&B legend Little Willie John that has toured with Stevie for many years now. During the first set, he was even given the opportunity to sing his father’s song Talk To Me after wow’ing the audience at his amazing vocal prowess that rivaled even Mr. Wonder himself and made it dreadfully evident that if Stevie was ever having a bad night, he only needed to lip synch and Keith could probably take over and no one would be none the wiser. And no, we’re not kidding.

The show was broken up with an intermission and started back with an explanation of Isn’t She Lovely including an introduction of his daughter for whom the song was written for (who also has toured with her father for many years). She herself was very much holding her own including ripping through the vicious and raucous Ordinary Pain.  They then stayed the course with exception to a couple of impromptu jam sessions including a piece of Michael Jackson‘s The Way You Make Me Feel. At near the completion of the albums tracks, the last special guest of the evening Janelle Monae who came out and sang for the remainder of the album as India Arie joined the background vocalists which then crescendos closing with As which became an onstage celebration.

And just when everyone thought the show was over, Stevie brought on his alter ego DJ Tick Tick Boom which then began to play even more of his hits including Part Time Lover, Happy Birthday, Higher Ground and others including a mass sing along closing the evening with Superstition.

The concert clocked in around 3 hours (even excluding the intermission) and ending near midnight. Stevie was in peak vocal performance and was simply majestic and full of energy. We simply must give Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life – The Performance tour in Atlanta a whopping 5 afros. If it comes through your town,you should run to the box office and go see what very well could be one of his final touring performances.

5 out of 5 afros

Replay: Prince’s Livestream Event

Posted by funkatop On October - 1 - 2014 9 COMMENTS

3rd Eye Girl interview

On 9/30/2014 at 10:30 EST, Prince and 3rd Eye Girl did an album release party online at Yahoo Livestream to celebrate the release of PLECTRUMELECTRUM and Art Official Age.  The show was hosted by Maya and was primarily a walk through of Paisley Park, discussions with various members of the Paisley Park team (Joshua Welton, Trevor Guy, etc.), and brief concert performances.

One interview with Joshua Welton featured a few snippets of songs they were in the process of finishing up and also a new song by Rita Ora that Prince was involved in (as was Joshua).  There were discussions that they are already in the process of putting together a new album even on the eve of official releases of these two albums. Nice!

The hostess known by some as “Shameless Maya” is easy on the eyes, but it certainly did not feel as if she prepared for the event. This is our only real apprehension with the event. Luckily some of her more “I’m in over my head” moments appeared to be removed from the replay.  The event itself was a great walkthrough of Paisley Park, but the hosting duties seemed awkward at best.  Some of the worst would include her introducing Hannah Ford as “Joshua’s wife”.  Then she depended on the fans around 3rd Eye Girl in the room for the interview questions.  Then travesty moments such as not being able to identify artists such as James Brown, Stevie Wonder, or Jimi Hendrix on the Prince mural or even Prince artists such as Sheila E, The Family, etc..  And referring to “Prince and the Power Generations.”  Umm…. ok.

The impromptu interview with Liv Warfield proved difficult as well at one point having to ask Liv Warfield who the band members of NPGQ were. And even though it’s not well known since NPGQ is a new project,  it’s important as an interviewer to be able to identify the major NPG artists like John  Blackwell and Marcus Anderson (who Maya introduced as Marcus Samuelson).  NPGQ played two songs that were separated by Maya‘s brief questionnaire with Liv Warfield.

A piece that caught our ear was during the 3rd Eye Girl interview portion where Hannah Ford was discussing the wardrobe and indicating that “This is the stuff that we’re excited to get to wear on tour.”  Followed by Maya saying, “Oh so this is what you’re going to wear when you tour.”  Both statements confirming that there is a 3rd Eye girl tour coming.

Then Prince and 3rd Eye Girl hit the stage to perform 3 songs including PRETZELYBODYLOGIC, What’s My Name (with Kendrick Lamar rapping over verse and chorus), a prerecorded play of Time, and then closing with the Sly & The Family Stone song called Thankful and Thoughful with a Liv Warfield and Prince duet.

You can still view the event replay here at if you missed it.  All in all, the ability to view the inside of Paisley Park is a treat in itself and the free online concert is always welcome. Let’s just bring in a host that’s a tad more prepared next time. And judging by social media, we weren’t the only ones who noticed.  We’re not complaining. Just simply noting the obvious. Prince fans have very high expectations and at times they can be vicious.  We’re just sayin.

But Yahoo did a fantastic job and it was a great event to be sure. Hopeully there will be more of these.  Yahoo! definitely proved themselves fully capable of handling the traffic waves.  Check it out yourself.

Prince and 3rd Eye Girl in concert - Yahoo Livestream


Blackalicious - AtlantaMany often wonder just exactly what’s left to prove for hip hop groups like Blackalicious. They not only come with deep socially conscious lyrics, but have been providing deep grooves with jazzy backdrops for 15 years now. With 3 albums under their belt starting with 1999’s Nia, they are trying to get back into the tour mode on the cusp of releasing a new album called Imani (which is Swahili for Faith).

The tour brought them through Atlanta and they made sure that the setlist was covered with tracks from all 4 of their albums (including performing tracks off of the yet to be released Imani). Their openers were local Atlanta acts Boog Brown and Illmont. Illmont was lucky enough to have Blackalicious‘s Gift of Gab join them on stage for quite a bit of their performance although barely anyone in the audience even recognized him in his casual attire until he was announced at the end of the show. It just goes to show how little people pay attention as it ended up being humorous to watch the crowd go from a callous attitude to a “CRAP! That was Gift of Gab?! I should have been paying attention.”  Luckily, we were.

Blackalicious took the stage around midnight and the length of the show seemed short. But however short the show may have been, Blackalicious filled the night with sing-a-long songs from all of their albums including breaking out new tunes. It was a lot of material to choose from and even considering that Gift of Gab has solo releases of his own to pull from, they certainly were not short of material.

The only surprising factor was that we expected Blackalicious to be backed by a full band and those were probably unrealistic expectations. Blackalicious has been known to build their songs with great music and laid back grooves, so it just felt a bit anemic. Luckily, with Gift of Gab and the Lifesavas at the helm, the experience was still way beyond the price of admission.

Gift of Gab has a very demanding voice that borders between authoritative and comforting at the same time. And when he enters his spitfire speed rapping, there simply is no comparison and he hasn’t lost much vocal stamina over the years. Rounding out the quartet of Blackalicious are Lifesavas members Jumbo and Vursatyl who complement Gift of Gab well with their quick hit one-two punch rhymes. Additonally, Jumbo does a lot more than just rhyme as he does quite a bit to keep the crowd involved by fist bumping with the audience and keeping everyone attentive which can be a feat in itself.

And of course you couldn’t wrap up a review without talking about DJ Chief Xcel. While he may have pulled back on a lot of the normal DJ scratching and cutting cuisine, he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Even with the untrained eye, you would still be quick to note that there is a stark contrast between the DJ work of someone like Public Enemy‘s DJ Lord and Chief Xcel. Chief Xcel keeps the flow going and has some stand out moments during the show where he gets to show off his skills. But someone like DJ Lord seems to be “always on” and is constantly scratching, and cutting where it almost seems like there aren’t any shortcuts pre-recorded and that it’s all done on the fly as with any instrument. It certainly doesn’t detract from Chief Xcel‘s show, but his style and flow is vastly different and it works well for what Blackalicious does. You’d also have to consider that Xcel is one of the core producers of almost all of the material that we’ve grown to love from Blackalicious.

All in all, if you have a chance to catch Blackalicious in a live setting, it will be worth the price of admission although it will only make you more anxious for the arrival of the new Imani album that is already almost 2 months past due from previous announced dates. Gift of Gab‘s teasers on the performance of the song Blacka (see below) from the new album is simply followed by “Coming Soon“, but like their live performances, it simply can’t come soon enough. We give Blackalicious‘s Atlanta performance 4 out of 5 afros.

4 out of 5 afros

Check out Blackalicious performing Blacka below and then click here to see even more videos from their Atlanta show.

Outkast Reunion at Coachella

Posted by funkatop On April - 18 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
Outkast - Andre 3000

Karl Walter – Getty Images

Big Boi and Andre 3000 reunited as Outkast after a very long period of time and performed at Coachella which was their first time performing together in many, many years since Andre 3000 took a hiatus to “do  a little acting” and Big Boi continued to release music and maintain his producer status quo.  But the Outkast reunion went very poorly.

We are Outkast nuts and always have been. But now there are some massive generational gaps that simply can’t be intertwined together and this flop of a performance only accentuated that point even further. Outkast performed very well even amid the lackluster crowd. They had to dig deep to find the energy and if you weren’t into the old school style, you were pretty much lost.

The Coachella festival is filled with mostly EDM (electronic dance music) artists that bring massive musical peaks and valleys, insane light shows, thumping electronic bass riffs, and lots of designer drugs. While there were stage tricks and techniques, Outkast is none of those things. They bring the 808’s, but it’s not the fuzzy thump that drives the crowd insane and Outkast was trapped delivering phenomenal music to a musically retarded audience. It’s an audience that wants to feel what’s happening, sweat and bounce, and has no penchant for original, good quality classic musicianship. They’ve been desensitized and simply want an experience.

So the true question remains, why did Outkast put itself in this situation in the first place? Wouldn’t have been a better idea to wrap them into a festival that surrounds them with like-minded artists that share the same music stylings instead of pairing themselves into a situation with acts that don’t share any commonality at all?

And it won’t be the last time since they’ve set themselves up for this again for an upcoming show at the Counterpoint Festival in Georgia playing alongside yet more unrelated bands such as STS9, Foster The People, Matt & KimPretty Lights and a virtual laundry list of current underground radio jockey acts with barely a rapper among them.

Maybe the thought was to put them in a place where they stand out among the crowd, but it’s not panning out like the promoter envisioned. Or maybe the thought was that they felt as if everyone likes Outkast and their influence is felt across all music genres.  A fact that may hold some truth if not for the fact that it’s failing miserably.

So what is the dream Outkast lineup?  How about a festival featuring Outkast, The Roots, Big Boi (solo set), Andre 3000 (solo set), Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Liv Warfield, Busta Rhymes, Yin Yang Twins, De La Soul, Little Dragon, and more in the realm of their audience?  When you’re the only act that does what you do among a sea of other musicians that perform another type of music all similar to each other, but not to you, you’ve doomed yourself to a dull audience that doesn’t get you.

That being said, we hope this doesn’t take the wind out of the sails for Outkast. They need to perform to their people and not these “other folk”.  We got nothing but mad love for Outkast here in the ATL and we hate to see them wrapped up in these bad situations.  Outkast should expect a similar reception at Counterpoint. Their booking agent should be roasted over hot coals and then they should bring someone like us on board to put together the show to be talked about for generations to come. A funky hip hop Woodstock like no other.  These merging of different worlds is not a good idea unless you have something to prop it up.

But for those that still want to know what they missed at Coachella, here’s the set list for you to drool over.  It just makes us sad that it was wasted on EDM drones.

1. “B.O.B”
2. “Gasoline Dreams”
3. “ATLiens”
4. “Skew It On The Bar-B”
5. “Rosa Parks”
6. “Da Art Of Storytelling (Part 1)”
7. “Aquemini”
8. “Spottieottiedopaliscious” feat. Sleepy Brown

Big Boi:
9. “Bowtie” feat. Sleepy Brown
10. “Shutterbug”
11. “GhettoMusick”
12. “Tightrope”feat. Janelle Monae
13. “Kryptonite”

Andre 3000:
14. “Vibrate”
15. “She Lives In My Lap”
16. “Prototype”
17. “Behold A Lady”
18. “Roses”

19. “Same Damn Time”
20. “Ain’t No Way Around It”
21. “Benz Friendz (Whatchutola)” feat. Andre 3000

22. “Claimin True”
23. “Elevators”
24. “Ms. Jackson”
25. “So Fresh, So Clean”
26. “The Way You Move”
27. “Hey Ya”

Bear Creek Music Festival – Truly Funky

Posted by funkatop On November - 6 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

2013 Bear Creek Music Festival logoBear Creek Music Festival – 11/13 thru 11/17/2013 in Live Oak, FL

The Bear Creek Music Festival (BCMF) simply gets better every year. While it’s a bit of a drive for those in Atlanta, 4 hours is nothing compared to the amount of hours of pure entertainment you get in return. While other festivals like Bonnaroo and SXSW are littered front to back with varying musical genres, BCMF does a phenomenal job at keeping the funk flowing front to back. In previous years BCMF had its fair share of funk, but also kept a very organic acoustic presence. That appears to have taken a small back seat in order to accommodate the funk this go around.

This year, the event takes place in its standard location in Live Oak, FL starting on Wednesday November 13th for a benefit concert and continuing through Sunday November 17th. The larger known acts in the 2013 version of the festival features The Roots, Bootsy Collins, Galactic, Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce, Bernie Worrell, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Dopapod, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, The New Mastersounds, and the artist lineup goes on from there with funk acts galore.

While the preliminary sound is definitely New Orleans, Bear Creek Music Festival organizers did an amazing job at mixing things up this year by adding different flavors of funk from the DJ oriented, jam band sessions, and even hip hop in the form of our favorite rap act of all time, The Roots. Whether intentional or not, we see this year being very successful for them and we’ll be there to witness it.

To complete the funky experience, there are plenty of activities from Zach Deputy’s Disc Golf Tournament, costume contests (one even ordained by Bootsy Collins), many visual artists on display, and plenty of whatever you can dream up. The scale will be amazing (as it is every year), with plenty of opportunities to rub elbows with your favorites and meet tons of new funky friends over the duration of the event.

Bootsy CollinsAll we can say is, if you’re anywhere within a 8 hour driving radius and if you have the financial means to do so, it would be well worth your hard earned cash to experience this festival which will be unlike anything we’ve seen to date from the group, and easily the most cohesive lineup ever.

Many acts will be performing multiple times throughout the festival such as Lettuce, Galactic and Dumpstaphunk, and some bands are even participating in the Wednesday night benefit concert for Michael A.’s Children’s Fund including The New Mastersounds, The Revivalists, Toubab Krewe, Art Official and Freddy’s Finest.

While we won’t make the Wednesday and Thursday lineup, Funkatopia will be on hand Friday through Sunday to make sure that we document the event as best as possible and as much as they’ll allow and make sure that you experience it from afar.

Visit the Bear Creek Music Festival Website, Facebook page, Artist Lineup pages, and much more for all of the information including ticket pricing. This is a once in a lifetime experience that you do not want to miss. See you there.