funk music


Monday, February 20, 2017

20 Best Funk Albums of 2016

Posted by funkatop On January - 7 - 2017 38 COMMENTS
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Here it is! 2016’s best funk albums!

This year was insanely tough. There weren’t a lot of true funk releases, but we hear that 2017 has some great funk coming down the pike including a new album from both George Clinton and Parliament. But without retyping the same things we always say, here’s our pre-ramble.

It’s GREATLY IMPORTANT that you realize that your favorite 2016 funk album might not be here because a) we only pick 20, b) it may not have been released in 2016, and c) we may not have even heard of it. So if we missed it, PLEASE share it in the comments area.

You can check out the posts from previous years like 2014 and 2015 and also enjoy tons more selections in those comment sections.

Again, they are not numbered since they are all funky and created equal in their funkiness.

Check out the playlist of these bands on Spotify!


childish-gambino-awaken-my-loveChildish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

We love it when we are sideswiped by an album and Donald Glover‘s new Childish Gambino was just the distraction we weren’t expecting or even thought that we needed.  Taking a break from his positions of producer, star, and writer for the magnificent show Atlanta, Glover went completely off the rails for his newest offering.

Completely abandoning his normal rap delivery, he displayed his love for all things Parliament and Funkadelic that even got the attention of George Clinton who mentioned the album and offered his praise for the respect. No rap here. Only funk.


psychic-mirrors-nature-of-evilPsychic Mirrors – Nature Of Evil
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Psychic Mirrors was never on our radar either, but they certainly are now. If you are a fan of 80’s funk, it’s as if they are paying homage to every funk hit of that era. Every single song is dripping with keyboard and drum machine funk nostalgia.

The entire album seems like a blatant homage to The Gap Band, Cameo and everything in between that may had any pop sensibilities back in the day. It is pure 80’s funk nostalgia that will easily bring a smile to your face.


new-mastersounds-nashville-session

The New Mastersounds – The Nashville Session
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

The New Mastersounds are no strangers to Funkatopia and you can hear them online via the FUNKEDUP app as well as revisit interviews we’ve done with them in the past.

The Nashville Session is a superb collection of their funk fare and it’s just as great as it’s always been. They took specific selections from their many years together, got a small listening audience together and recorded their live performance in one grand evening at the Welcome to 1979 studio in Nashville, recording it onto 1 inch tape and limiting its release to a mere 1000 vinyl pressings. Luckily, you can also get it digitally.


the-apples-dragonzThe Apples – Dragonz
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

It’s literally is impossible to pigeonhole The Apples who are a collective of students from Jerusalem’s Rubin Academy of Music and they celebrate their heritage through music which somehow skewed and output a super funky delivery.

Armed with turntables, a horn section, drums, stand up bass and whatever else they can throw at it, The Apples end up with super funky songs that mix in DJ sensibilities and the end result is bizarre and funky all in the same breath.


snarky-puppy-culcha-vulchaSnarky Puppy – Culcha Vulcha
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Snarky Puppy is always a force to be reckoned with and 2016 proved to be another dominating year. Snarky Puppy is a group compiled of some of the finest musicians on the planet and lucky for us their newest offering keeps their normal formula in the form of Culcha Vulcha which tilts the needle to funk and jazz.

While there are still moments of grown folk music and smooth jazz, the album is filled with plenty of funk music with spicy jazz flavoring and plenty to go around.


the-motet-totemThe Motet – Totem
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify | Stream)

The Motet have definitely skyrocketed on the funk music scene since 2000 and are finally getting the appreciation they deserve. And they returned the favor in 2016 with the release of two albums including Totem and a new Live at Red Rocks album.

Even though they are 16+ years into the game, their albums still have that old school feel which is a feat in itself. That good feeling, party music that The Motet does to perfection and Totem is no exception.


dr-lonnie-smith-evolutionDr. Lonnie Smith – Evolution
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Dr. Lonnie Smith may be unknown to most, but he is one of the originals on the funk jazz scene and he is no joke on the Hammond organ. And his new album Evolution certainly puts him in the limelight again where he deserves to be.

He is a Hammond virtuoso and paid his dues with George Benson’s Quartet and was always actively involved with Lou Donaldson. From the opening 14 minute jam session with Robert Glasper, this album is magic and his first album back on Blue Note since his 1970 release Drives. Yes, we said 1970.


pigeons-playing-ping-pong-pleasurePigeons Playing Ping Pong – Pleasure
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong not only have a great band name, they have a great funk album in the form of Pleasure. This festival funk band has been stealing hearts across the nation with their nutty on-stage personas that are off the wall and hard to resist.  If you’re not bopping your head to the music, you’re laughing and smiling at their antics.

Pleasure has that stoner funk jam band feel that they somehow managed to replicate on recording which many bands from that genre have a difficult time accomplishing. The songs all have a happy, dance, or psychedelic feel, but every bit of it is infused with happy funk elements. Yay!


lettuce-mt-crushmoreLettuce – Mt. Crushmore
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Lettuce is pure old school and they have been around for the better part of two decades. Being blessed to not only have seen them multiple times, but also to have captured recordings, Lettuce is a funk fans dream.

Their huge sound and massive vibe is so mesmerizing, that you can’t stop listening. Mt. Crushmore is not only a great new funky album from the masters, but a journey. The only disappointment with this offering is that the album is super short (under 20 minutes) since it’s essentially outtakes from last years Crush (which made it onto the 2015 list), but it’s still so frigging good.


lack-of-afro-hello-babyLack Of Afro – Hello, Baby
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and DJ, Adam Gibbons (aka Lack of Afro) has finally released his next creation onto the world and it’s a fantastic ride down the dirt roads of funk and soul.  Taking pieces of albums of the past and reconstructing them into new masterpieces is only part of the formula that makes Lack of Afro‘s new album so intriguing.

Gibbons also joined forces with the talents of Joss Stone, Professor Elemental, Elliot Cole and others to create a really awesome  convergent sound. Somehow he found time when not creating spots from everyone from Disney to Adidas to put together this album that is also available in an instrumental version.


feeling-good-the-supreme-sound-of-producer-bob-shadFeeling Good – The Supreme Sound Of Producer Bob Shad
(Amazon | iTunes | Spotify)

Many people don’t know the name Bob Shad, but he was the production mastermind behind many great funk and soul classics and was an undeniable force to be reckoned with as he produced music for Sarah Vaughn, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and plenty of others.

Decades after his passing, he finally gets the album that he deserves with a collection of funk and soul songs from various artists where he used his golden fingers to create worlds and put his undeniable stamp on the tracks. It’s like a trip down soul history lane.


diamond-ortiz-lovelineDiamond Ortiz – Loveline
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Released late in 2016, Loveline is a funk album full of deep synth bass tracks, talkbox, stabbing keyboards and thumping bass lines.  The sound that made the mid-80’s what they were, it’s undeniable and unmistakable.

This is Diamond Ortiz‘s first release for MoFunk Records and we’re already anxious to hear his next release. This really comes across as an unapologetic homage to Roger and Zapp, but it’s all new and super funky.


a-tribe-called-quest-we-got-it-from-here-thank-you-4-your-service-cover-artA Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

In their first album in nearly 20 years, A Tribe Called Quest came back onto the scene with a new album that was everything people expected with nary a complaint from even the doubters.

It’s impossible to ignore the legend of the late Phife Dawg who stayed with us long enough to participate in the release extensively, but there are also many guests including Anderson. Paak, Andre 3000, and others that put on some extra spice and made this yet another classic to add to their legendary discography.


the-soul-snatchers-where-y-atThe Soul Snatchers – Where Y’At
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

You don’t often see a lot of funk bands com out of the Netherlands, but enter The Soul Snatchers who put together a smooth funk and soul album that has tastes of New Orleans and gumbo, but somehow compiled from the complete opposite side of the planet.

With soulful vocals, slick horn sections and cool blue vibes, they created a funky swayful album that will have your head bobbing and feet tapping. The Soul Snatchers create a dirty soul sound that harkens back to 60’s soul, but still keeps it new and fresh.


papa-grows-funk-the-last-leaf-livePapa Grows Funk – The Last Leaf (Live)
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Papa Grows Funk is no more as the members have all gone their separate ways a few years ago. So Imagine our surprise when 2016 still managed to give us one last chance to pay homage to one of the best funk jam bands to grace festival stages.

The Last Leaf was recorded back on May 6th in 2013 and was their last show performing together. Everything was captured brilliantly from the band’s energetic performances to the crowd’s intense appreciation from one of funk’s finest.


the-funk-ark-high-noonThe Funk Ark – High Noon
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

The Funk Ark‘s High Noon is a southwestern funk roller coaster that could easily serve as a background for any of Quentin Tarantino movie.  With funky deep vibes, we were shocked to not see it on the Funkish list.

Delivering that Budos Band-esque horn section, staccato guitar picking and that south of the border flair creates an undeniable sound and flow that very few bands can pull off or somehow maintain for an entire album.


three-step-manoeuvre-three-step-strutThree Step Manoeuvre – Three Step Strut
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Three Step Manoeuvre has a band name that gives spell check a fit (that’s not how you normally spell maneuver.), but they have that hip poppy feel that only great bandslike The New Mastersounds can deliver.

We had to check to see if it was Eddie Roberts on guitar because the playing style is so dreadfully similar that it will make you do a double take. That quick picking, shuffling snare drums and riding bass is a recipe that very few can get right, but Three Step Manoeuvre do it magnificently. Maybe that’s how maneuver is spelled in another country.


space-orphan-shut-up-about-the-sunSpace Orphan – Shut Up About The Sun
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Space Orphan is simply fantastic. Mr. Christopher got an opportunity to sit down with John Wirtz and discuss what makes this album so special. Check the interview here.

All of the tracks are well over or near 6 minutes in length which makes for some fantastic listening pleasure. The songs are constantly changing to keep you drawn in and the production strategies are fun and interesting. This is straight jam band funk styling, but with enough variants to make you want to listen again and again.


corey-henry-lapeitahCorey Henry – Lapeitah
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

If straight New Orleans Treme style funk is what tickles the soles of your shoes and wiggles your butt in your seat, then there won’t be any reason to look any further than Corey Henry’s Lapeitah offering.

He stays true to the sound, feel and history of the New Orleans sound like many before and alongside him such as Trombone Shorty and Galactic. He has certainly earned his badge of black and gold with this album.



kendrick-lamar-untitled-unmasteredKendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered.

(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Yeah, yeah. Stop rolling your eyes. Kendrick Lamar is no joke and 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly was a literal masterpiece and deserved every award it won. The impressive Wesley Theory backing band that hit the road for Kunta’s Groove Session (including Atlanta <) was simply funky and breathtaking.

Untitled Unmastered. is a compilation of tracks that should have been on TPAB, but somehow ended up on the cutting room floor. These songs were incredible and stunning. There isn’t any way we can avoid not putting it on our list.


Added Funky Bonuses!

As we do every year, there are always a few albums that should be on the Best Of list, but don’t offer enough funk selections to qualify. But they are simply fantastic albums that you cannot miss.


Kendra Foster albumKendra Foster
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Kendra Foster has spent her days supporting some of the best artists on the planet including providing background vocals for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic for many years and doing the same as a crucial part of D’Angelo‘s rise back to fame during his Black Messiah unveiling.

She’s finally got another album and it’s amazing. Her first was heavily influenced by Parliament, but this time around she definitely opted to do her own thing. There are so many great songs that it’s one of the most impressive albums from any artist that you will hear.



eric-krasno-blood-from-a-stoneEric Krasno – Blood From a Stone
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Eric Krasno could probably hold the title for busiest man on the planet dipping his guitar neck into way too many guest spots to count. But when he’s not playing guitar full time for Lettuce or full time with Soulive, he somehow found time to put together a solo album.

Soulive had already blew up when Dave Matthews tapped them to open several shows for DMB, when he decided to break out and push out his own solo album by talking to God to add a few more hours into a day so that he could get into the studio and create a super cool album that you should hear.


ittle-simz-stillness-in-wonderlandLittle Simz – Stillness In Wonderland
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Little Simz back story is super intriguing, but way too involved to get into here. Let’s just say that she’s a phenomenal British female rapper who strives to avoid being called a female rapper and wants to be appreciated as simply a hip hop artist without the added sexist adjective.

This album will set her on the right path for sure as it is full of production nuances and that high vibe that made Digable Planet‘s Blowout Comb so essential.  The same chemistry exists here and well worth a listen.


vaudou-game-kidayuVaudou Game – Kidayu
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

We can’t take credit for this selection as we got turned onto Vaudou Game by Funkish, but we’re glad they did. Vaudou Game (Voodoo Game in English), is straight French funk that is unapologetic and still somehow startlingly reminiscent of Fela Kuti, even though it’s completely in French.

The entire album is pure afropop and full of funk jams that seem like they were stripped from the 70’s, but everything is simply pure and raw and more impressively, brand spanking new.


Extra Bonuses from YOU!

Check the suggestions below from you, our readers. We know we missed a bunch, so help us out. Add them to the comments below!  Hook us up and remember, the albums had to have been released in 2016 to qualify for the list.

Remember to check out the playlist of all of these bands on Spotify!

Also check out Funkish’s excellent list also.We appreciate our friendship.

Interview : Space Orphan – John Wirtz

Posted by funkatop On January - 6 - 2017 2 COMMENTS
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space-orphan-shut-up-about-the-sunMr. Christopher interviews one of the winners of Funkatopia’s Best Funk Albums of 2016 , John Wirtz from Space Orphan.

Listen in as they talk about the unusual backward process they have for music creation, but also the reverse process in getting the band together, and the reasoning behind their change-up song structures.

The funk jam band released their debut album to rave reviews and is gaining traction very quickly and making all of the right connections. Visit their website at http://www.spaceorphanmusic.com and pick up their newest award winning album Shut Up About The Sun on Amazon or iTunes.

 

Review: Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

Posted by funkatop On December - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Childish Gambino - "Awaken, My Love!" album coverWe’ll just say it. This is one of the best albums we have heard this year by a long shot. 5 Afro Award right out of the gate and it will undeniably be on our 2016 Top 20 list when it’s released in January. Expect it.

It’s just beautiful when some artists decide to experiment and especially when that experimentation has them creating the next great funk album. Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover did just that by recreating early 70’s funk and soul with his newest album “Awaken, My Love!”

Donald Glover is super busy. When he isn’t acting in one of his many projects like Community or his TV show Atlanta, he’s playing the part of Lando Calrissian in the upcoming stand alone Star Wars movie Han Solo.

In the music world, most know him as Childish Gambino who has already released a few critically acclaimed rap albums. So when the new Childish Gambino album “Awaken, My Love!”  hit the internet, critics expected more of the same and that he would expand his horizons even further as he had done progressively with previous albums. And boy, were they not wrong.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, were taken off-guard by the release of what was supposed to be the next hip hop album from his alter ego Childish Gambino. But instead of hearing some new groundbreaking sounds of the rap realm, people sat by in shock. Even The Roots drummer, bandleader and musically astute Questlove found himself speechless and woke D’Angelo at 4am to have him share his enthusiasm.

Dude I’m so fucked up right now. I can’t even form the proper hyperbolic sentence to explain to D’angleo why I woke him up at 4am to listen to this. I’m like—when is the last time someone sucker punched me on this level…..I mean I knew #AroundTheWorldInADay was coming & it was a left turn—I’m about to blow the wigs off music historians… but I thought I was getting some fresh millennial 2016 hip hop shit and I got sucker punched. The last sucker punch in black music I remember in which NOONE had a clue what was coming was Sly’s #TheresARiotGoinOn—read my IG about it (the flag)—I’m writing in real time cause —Jesus Christ the co-author of #WearwolfBarmitzvah just SONNED the shit outta me. In the best way possible. I was NOT expecting a trip to Detroit circa 1972 at United Sound Studios. I haven’t written or been stunned by an album I wasn’t expecting since that time I got an advance of #BackToBlack. The music is so lush man, I can see the kaleidoscope color mesh of the #Westbound logo. Dude I can’t curb my enthusiasm. All I know is if #P4k try to play him again with these ratings there WILL be a riot goin on.

A photo posted by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on

What has transpired with “Awaken, My Love!” was pure funk and no rap to be found anywhere on the entire album. Which begs to question, did Childish Gambino just lose some rap fans or gain some funk fans? From our perspective, it was the latter. But could his rap fans truly be upset about an album of this magnitude?

From the moment the album begins, the music is laced with thick melodic vocal funk orchestration circa 1970’s. All throughout “Awaken, My Love!”, you’ll hear different components of Funkadelic like the Eddie Hazel style of guitar work in The Night Me And Your Mama Met and the ambient keyboard in the spirit of Bernie Worrell.

Even the closing multi-dimensional track Stand Tall delivers a clean crisp lead vocal and background female vocals which leaves no question that Donald Glover is one amazingly talented dude and not “just another rapper” trying to sing. You can’t even be mad that you didn’t get what you expected.

While most rappers need a lot of production work to sing any parts on their albums, Donald’s vocals are just fantastic. He’s in tune, has strong vibrato and the only studio magic added is simply for effect like echo and delay which is designed to add to the floaty feel of the funk. He is a great singer and talented vocalist who is comfortable in his screams, falsetto and vocal theatrics.

Songs like Have Some Love and Riot have a very Van Hunt style of staccato and theatric delivery that not only sound super funky, but also add a lot of layers and dimensions to the music. The album is just pure magic front to back.

You’ll get to the other side of “Awaken, My Love!” and try and wrap your head around what you just experienced, enjoy the smile you realize is on your face, and start the album over again for another listen. A chain of events that we’ve been lovingly stuck in for 4 days now. Come join us, won’t you?

See why we give Childish Gambino‘s “Awaken, My Love!” a very much deserved 5 afros.  You can thank us later.

5 out of 5 afros

 

 

Review: DNCE’s Perfect Debut Album

Posted by funkatop On November - 21 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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DNCE AlbumDNCE has just released the greatest pop record in years and earned the first 5 afro award that we’ve issued to an album in a long time.

For those not in the know, DNCE is a project by Joe Jonas who has put together a group of electro-pop masterful virtually unknowns who are brilliant and skillful in every sense of the word.

Among all of the pop garbage that falls on and off the airwaves, very few songs have staying power for any length of time. DNCE‘s debut single from their Swaay EP called Cake By The Ocean stayed on many charts and lived for well over a year on replay. Despite the fact that the Swaay EP featured some other amazing (and in our view, even better) tracks like Toothbrush and Pay My Rent which were just as catchy and airplay-worthy although the one remaining EP track Jinx did not make it onto the full album.

In typical record label fashion, they were given the green light for a full album after the undeniable success of the Swaay EP and people that may have expected the full album to be littered with filler to tie the strong elements together would be pleasantly surprised to find a wall to wall album packed with potential hits and over the top sick ear-worms.

The self titled album which found its way onto most of the music services last week is an end of the year blessing for pop music lovers. Joe Jonas‘ vocals are pitch perfect with the backing band of Jack Lawless on energetic drums, Cole Whittle on thick thumping bass, and the beautiful JinJoo Lee on frenetic guitar which is all impeccably put together in beautifully crafted electro-pop perfection.

There are so many highlights and strong songs, that if the singles were strategically released, this album could live for a few years on the radio and never feel old. Every song has longevity potential and a “this is going to be a hit” feel.

dnce

And while this seems like over the top praise for a top 40 style album, the last time we blathered on about a great pop album was Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox and we’re confident that we were just as right then as we are now.

Whether it’s the fantastic cuts like the flowy bounce of Toothbrush, the Smash Mouth feel of Blown, the earworm inducing Good Day, the kinetic energy of Naked, or even the breezy calm of the acoustically laden Truthfully, you can’t lose with this self titled album from DNCE.

It is without reservation that we grant DNCE‘s self titled debut album the illustrious 5 afro award. Just because it’s that damn good. Buy it now.

5 out of 5 afros

Review: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

Posted by funkatop On November - 18 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Bruno Mars 24K Magic AlbumA couple of years ago, we were smitten with Bruno Mars release of Unorthodox Jukebox which we predicted would result in a wealth of hits. His new release of 24K Magic goes to the next level.

To start, Bruno Mars is not ashamed in the least about borrowing from the funk pioneers that led the way before him. Even though last year’s Uptown Funk was under the umbrella of Mark Ronson, it awoke a beast in Bruno Mars soul and 24K Magic is ultimately the continuance of that 80’s funk and 90’s ballad resurgence. Not mad.

The opening title track song (and first single) 24K Magic borrows heavily from Cameo keyboard funk right down to the chorus riff and he continues to borrow from his predecessors throughout the entirety of the album.

Even the collections’ two slower tracks called Versace On The Floor and the closing Too Good To Say Goodbye sound exactly like tracks that would have fallen off of a New Kids On The Block recording session.

The structure of the 24K Magic album has a very distinct fault line with the first 4 songs of the album being a decidedly obvious hat tip to late 80’s funk and the last 5 songs rehashing 90’s boy bands medium grooves and ballads.

While most online reviews we’ve seen have been harsh, we think it’s simply a few more funk songs short of perfect. If the previous releases of Uptown Funk, Locked Out Of heaven, and Treasure had been housed within this collection, the discussion would simply be how many awards he would scavenge for 2017.

For folks who love the nostalgia of the late 80 and early 90’s, this album is a great one. And even though it doesn’t feel filled up or complete, you can certainly expect to hear nearly all 9 of these songs on the radio waves over the next 6-9 months and you’ll almost certainly hear a few select cuts on FUNKEDUP and that’s no doubt.

So get ready for Bruno world again in 2017.

Review: Sheila E. – Atlanta, GA

Posted by funkatop On November - 14 - 2016 1 COMMENT
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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
Housequake
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
Bailal
Rockstar (with Purple Rain pieces)
Girl Meets Boy
Sheila Speak
Old Skool
Holly Rock
Belle of St. Mark
America
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

2 New Prince Albums Coming

Posted by funkatop On October - 21 - 2016 10 COMMENTS
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prince4ever

Color us….zzzzzzzzzzzz.

Well, here’s the official release anyway.

 

NPG RECORDS & WARNER BROS. RECORDS ANNOUNCE TWO NEW PRINCE RELEASES, BOTH WITH PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED MUSIC FROM THE VAULT

GREATEST HITS COLLECTION PRINCE 4EVER ARRIVES ON NOVEMBER 22

REMASTERED, DELUXE VERSION OF PURPLE RAIN DUE IN EARLY 2017

October 21, 2016 (Burbank, CA) – Today, NPG Records and Warner Bros. Records announced two new Prince releases that will celebrate the iconic artist’s music and introduce fans to previously unreleased material from his legendary vault. This will mark the first Prince recordings released since his passing on April 21st of this year.

Released on November 22nd in the U.S. and November 25th around the world, Prince 4Ever will bring together 40 of Prince’s best-loved songs, including the blockbuster hits “When Doves Cry,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Purple Rain,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Sign O’ The Times,” “Alphabet Street,” “Batdance,” “Cream,” and“The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.”

Prince 4Ever includes “Moonbeam Levels” – a previously unreleased song originally recorded in 1982 during the 1999 sessions and later considered for the Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic album.

Prince 4Ever will also arrive with a 12-page booklet of never-before-seen photos by acclaimed photographer Herb Ritts.

In addition, early next year will see the release of the much-anticipated remastered, deluxe version of Purple Rain, plans for which were agreed with Prince before he passed away. The remaster of the classic Purple Rain will arrive with a second album of previously unreleased material. More details will be revealed closer to the release date.

The track-listing for Prince 4Ever is as follows:
1. 1999
2. Little Red Corvette
3. When Doves Cry
4. Let’s Go Crazy
5. Raspberry Beret
6. I Wanna Be Your Lover
7. Soft and Wet
8. Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad
9. Uptown
10. When You Were Mine
11. Head
12. Gotta Stop (Messin’ About)
13. Controversy
14. Let’s Work
15. Delirious
16. I Would Die 4 U
17. Take Me With U
18. Paisley Park
19. Pop Life
20. Purple Rain
21. Kiss
22. Sign ‘O’ The Times
23. Alphabet Street
24. Batdance
25. Thieves In The Temple
26. Cream
27. Mountains
28. Girls & Boys
29. If I Was Your Girlfriend
30. U Got The Look
31. I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man
32. Glam Slam
33. Moonbeam Levels
34. Diamonds and Pearls
35. Gett Off
36. Sexy MF
37. My Name Is Prince
38. 7
39. Peach
40. Nothing Compares 2 U

Bear Creek Bayou 2016: The Hibernation

Posted by funkatop On October - 11 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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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.

Interview: FOTDP

Posted by funkatop On September - 14 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Federation of The Disco Pimp
Mr. Christopher interviews Marco from Scottish band Federation Of The Disco Pimp.

The interview is lively and fun as they talk about touring and the future of funk. They’ve been storming the world since 2010 and have already played with Pee Wee Ellis, have an album produced by Joel Hamilton (Lettuce, Elvis Costello, Justin Timberlake), and stolen away the Scottish Culture Award from the Scottish Ballet.

This interview is not to be missed.

FUNKEDUP Funkatopia’s Radio App

Posted by funkatop On August - 17 - 2016 6 COMMENTS
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FUNKED UP - Funkatopia Music App

Update!

Android Users! CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW ANDROID APP!
I-Phone Users: CLICK HERE FOR THE NEW i-Phone APP!

Funkatopia is proud to announce that we now have an official Android and i-Phone app called FUNKEDUP.

FUNKEDUP showcases funk music from around the world as well as tons of unsigned funk bands from the four corners of the earth and more lost cuts from Prince than you can possibly shake a stick at!

Now you can listen everywhere to your favorite funk tunes. And if you’re a Prince junkie, you are definitely in the right place.

So download the app and take all of it in in all its funky goodness!

funkedup-app

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