funk music


Monday, December 11, 2017

Interview: Living Colour’s Doug Wimbish

Posted by funkatop On October - 19 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
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Bassist-Doug-Wimbish-7

The name of Doug Wimbish may not be familiar to some, but he’s been everywhere. You remember the Sugarhill Gang? He was there. Grandmaster Flash? Spoonie Gee? Tackhead? Living Colour? That’s him.

Doug Wimbish is a true journeyman that has shared the stage with the birth of New York hip hop by supplying bass guitar for the Wood Brass and Steel, many of Sugarhill Gang‘s hits including Apache, Grandmaster Flash‘s big smash hits like The Message and White Lines, and the list goes on for miles.

Mr. Christopher was lucky enough to sit down with Doug and get his full story from the beginning of a bass phenom’s humble beginnings and all the way up to the latest funk rock release Stain from Living Colour. It’s not just an interview, but an entire musical history lesson in funk rock complete with songs decorating the background so that you can travel along this beautiful trip with Mr. Christopher and the celebrated bassist extraordinaire Doug Wimbish. Right here.

Prince Was Murdered – An Interview With Abigail Noel

Posted by funkatop On October - 4 - 2017 69 COMMENTS
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Prince and Abigail NoelPREFACE: Please understand that as a journalist, I strive to get the whole story and that I realize that this topic, and in some cases this person, upsets a lot of people. This was not about agreeing or disagreeing with Mrs. Noel. I just wanted to bring you the story.

——————–

Prince was murdered. It wasn’t an “accidental overdose”, but completely intentional as planned through a collaboration of Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson, Warner Brothers, and his personal chef, Ray Roberts.

That’s what psychic/intuitive therapist Abigail Noel wants you to understand. And you may ask, just who is her source of information? According to her, she has the most reliable source that there possibly could be. Prince.

You see, Abigail Noel is a psychic, or as she refers to herself, an intuitive therapist, who is receiving her information directly from Prince who has chosen her to share this truth so that he can receive justice for his murder and uncover facts that are getting buried by the media. 

I even asked her directly, why did he choose you of all people? There have to be dozens of people that are very personally close to him that could have easily been the recipient of his messages from the spiritual realm. She only knows the radio hits and isn’t even a hardcore fan. There are people close to the events that could have put the pieces together better than her.

Her answer; Because she is open to receiving messages from the spiritual realm where others are not. She didn’t ask to be chosen and she’s not even receiving any monetary gain from it. So what’s the deal here? What is her end game? And why is she so frigging mean on her Facebook page?  I asked her all of these questions and much more like, you understand that people think you’re crazy, right?  It turns out that she’s well aware of that.

So I sat down and listened for a full 45 minutes with an open mind, because I was curious. I need to hear her take on the information she has, and simply dig for answers. Who killed Prince and why? What evidence does she have to that end? I wasn’t trying to make her look crazy or prove that she’s a fraud. That’s not for me to say.  I just want to hear her story in a fair way, but to play devil’s advocate also. Yeah, there were probably tons more questions I could have asked, but I wanted her story laid out so that you can decide. I also wanted to avoid anything that looked like I was taking sides.

Prince FogAs a massive Prince fanatic, I still want answers about his death. And maybe she has those answers. What probably freaked me out after reviewing was that about 6 minutes into the interview, listening through headphones, I was able to hear a deeper voice in the background that was layered with her own. It kind of freaked me out a little. Maybe you’ll hear it too. But regardless, is she onto something? Do the questions she’s asking need to be answered?

To be clear, I fully believe in the spiritual realm due to some experiences that I personally have gone through that are truly inexplicable. And at the risk of sounding nuts, Prince has also spoken to me, but in a dream. I’m not kidding. He told me to stay the course with Funkatopia and that big things were going to be happening with this website and that he appreciated what I was doing.  It was incredibly vivid. Then I woke up and that was that. It was a dream. Written off.  What’s happening with Abigail Noel is different. It is an ongoing conversation with him in the waking conscious life. But so many people think she is wide eyed and insane. Is she?

Sit back and listen to the unlikely story of Abigail Noel, an “intuitive therapist” who started receiving messages directly from Prince and began giving her details about how he was murdered. Then decide for yourself. More importantly, talk about it in the comment section. I am very curious about what you think. No, really. 

LISTEN: Van Hunt’s Popular Album Is Finally Here.

Posted by funkatop On August - 23 - 2017 2 COMMENTS
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Van Hunt Chair

We’ve always loved Van Hunt here at Funkatopia, but he’s a tough person to decipher musically. He was already writing songs like Hopeless for Dionne Farris (from Arrested Development), which also got placed on the Love Jones soundtrack. He wrote quite a bit of music for Rahsaan Patterson for his Love In Stereo album and then in walked American Idol judge Randy Jackson who became Van’s manager to push him to the next level.

That led to Dallas Austin taking his collection of songs into Capitol Records and a resulting record deal which brought us his debut self titled album which was an R&B/neo-soul masterpiece when neo-soul was actually a thing. It gave us amazing tracks like Dust, Down Here In Hell (With You), Her December and Seconds Of Pleasure. Songs that still stand the test of time even to this day. It even got him a Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

Van Hunt - On The Jungle FloorThen in 2006, his next album On The Jungle Floor broke a lot of ground and got him opening slots with tons of acts like The Roots, The Brand New Heavies, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, and even Dave Matthews Band. A year later he would win his first Grammy by joining vocal forces with John Legend and Joss Stone for the remake of Sly Stone‘s Family Affair. And many artists would probably skyrocket into the ether from that amazing launching pad. Then Blue Note records happened.

Van Hunt got shuffled to Blue Note by parent company EMI which didn’t seem too far of a stretch.  At his new label, Van had created a literal masterpiece called Popular which was a breathtaking followup to the fantastic On The Jungle Floor.  This was a progression from that offering and a perfect album to showcase his musical direction and growth as an artist. Then the unthinkable happened when Blue Note decided to shelve the completed album which proved a devastating blow to Van Hunt which would send him into a strange musical spiral.

While we at Funkatopia had already heard the album even though it had been shelved, we knew it was pure magic and were distraught because we knew, having met Van several times, that this album would have put him up on the pedestal where he deserved to be.

The following years would bring sporadic releases of bits and pieces in the form of an album called Use In Case Of Emergency which included various outtakes and mixes. A release that caused some concerns with his fans that his creative bones got broken in the aftermath of Blue Note. Many wondered if he was just holding out for Blue Note to change their mind on Popular or if he simply were so upset that he couldn’t get the mojo going again.

Van Hunt - What Were You Hoping For?Four to five years later he finally put out a new album entitled What Were You Hoping For? that was preceded by a debut track called June that finally gave people hope that he would be back in full form. It was so full of energy and bizarre song structures that seemed to change direction on a dime. It was as if his skull was pulled back and his full force creative flow was just pouring out raw and unfiltered.

Then he took it a step further a few years later with a fan funded album The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets which was more of the prior album, but a little more subdued in raucousness. But still unhinged.

The primary issue with those two albums was that the fans in the general public didn’t get the transition from what they heard from On The Jungle Floor to where he was now which seemed to be in a mode where he wanted to create music that no one had created before. It was so avant garde and far removed from the funky soulful structure of Jungle Floor, that it simply didn’t get the love that he had spent so much time building up. Even though in all fairness, Fun Rises did manage to find its way to position 31 on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop charts.

Van Hunt never let go of the hope that Blue Note would finally allow his Popular album to be released and his wish was finally granted this year when Blue Note agreed to release the finished album on August 11.

Van shared with Billboard, “I’ve cried three times in the last 10 years. And none of those were when I was told that ‘Popular’ wouldn’t be released. I cried whenever I felt justified for making that record. In the face of a churning reality, it took one online comment from a listener, and two emails from Blue Note — one with a release date, and one with the album’s press release — to let me know I wasn’t crazy for hanging on all this time.”

Van Hunt - PopularHere’s what we can say about Popular. It is magical perfection. This album has some of the best songwriting that we have ever heard since the prowess of a 1970’s Stevie Wonder. The production, the chord changes, the imagination, the flow, the lyricism, and a true continuation to what people most likely expected coming off of On The Jungle Floor. It is the perfect follow up in the hierarchy of when they were created.

The biggest question that many fans have been asking though is to try and understand where things might go next. Will he continue in the musical direction where Popular left off? The obvious answer would seemingly be “No.” since this is a step backwards in time and he has progressed to a very different level. But at the same time, Van has admittedly held a torch for this album which begs to question where his mindset is currently. Does this put him back on track or is he on a totally different track now.

The best thing we can hope for the next album is a blend of the two worlds of future and present. An album with good solid (and consistent) song builds that aren’t as chaotic, but that still showcase his genius in more digestible songs.

But for now, the public FINALLY gets to hear one of the best albums Van Hunt ever created. It blends a pure bright spotlight on his incredible songwriting, perfectly blending in powerful pastel colors, and a vast amount of stark surprising elements.

Shockinglyrical moments like The Lowest 1 Of My Desires, funky riffs like the opening tongue in cheek Turn My TV On, nice switch ups with snare shuffle steps like Ur Personal Army, and the two part masterpiece that is Ur A Monster. But most importantly, not a weak song in the mix.

It was easily one of our favorite Van Hunt albums when we heard it originally and we are more than ecstatic that the frustration is finally over and that the travesty of its silence is now not so deafening. PLEASE check this album out. We’ve said it a few times already. It’s magic.

Review: The Fixx – Live in Atlanta 2017

Posted by funkatop On August - 19 - 2017 7 COMMENTS
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The Fixx - Jamie West Oram

A review and confession from Funkatopia founder Mr. Christopher;

Time to come clean. If it wasn’t already evident by the piece I did five years ago, I am a huge fan of The Fixx. I am indeed what they call a Fixxture. It’s difficult to be too involved in their career as of late because there’s not much going on considering their last release was 2012’s amazingly under-appreciated and under-valued Beautiful Friction along with sparse touring.

the-fixx-80'sAnd some are saying, “Wait. Why are you giving so much love to a band that’s not funk?” But I covered this before. They are funky. The bass lines and riffs are sick and even if you don’t accept that, every funk artist is over the moon about other non-funk artists. Prince had his Joni Mitchell. Nile Rodgers loved his David Bowie. Mr. Christopher has The Fixx.

I know you’re here to read a concert review, and if you are, just scroll down to the sub-header that says Concert Review because I’m going to geek out for some paragraphs about my history with The Fixx and why this funk fanatic got so wrapped into these guys in the first place.

I, like most people my age, were introduced to The Fixx via MTV‘s early days when their songs Stand Or Fall and Red Skies came on multiple times a day back when MTV only had a handful of videos to even play.  I loved them, but I hadn’t bit the bullet on actually buying their first album Shuttered Room. It wasn’t until Reach The Beach, their second album, that gave them monster hits like One Thing Leads To Another, Saved By Zero and Sign of Fire that I couldn’t take it anymore and went to the store to begin my obsession.

reach the beachOnce I was brain deep into the masterpiece that was Reach The Beach, I had to have everything that they ever released including imports, remixes, 45’s and otherwise. I even remember getting the 12″ version of Saved By Zero that had written on the back, “From their forthcoming album Reach the Beach” and I lost my mind. I said, “They have FOUR albums?!

I wasn’t officially embarrassed until I looked up the word forthcoming. Give me a break. I was all of 14 at the time. Still funny though.

To make the obsession worse, I was attending Northside School of The Performing Arts in Atlanta in 1983 and someone gave the school a huge stack of tickets to go see a concert at the Omni in downtown Atlanta featuring The Fixx on their Reach The Beach tour (their biggest selling album ever) opening up for The Police who were on their Synchronicity tour (their biggest selling album ever.)  However, I missed the handout period for my class and so I faked an injury to get a hall pass to go and get one anyway. The show was magic and while I loved The Police, by the time The Fixx left the stage, I couldn’t get over the buzz I felt from their performance.

Fast forward many Fixx concerts later to around 1991 when The Fixx was touring in support of their album Ink. They were appearing on a local radio station to promote the album and the show at Center Stage in downtown Atlanta. It was my first true starstruck spaz out moment, when I managed to get through and was able to talk to The Fixx on air while I stammered over my words and almost pissed myself. I was praising the album for the masterpiece it was and then a magic moment occurred when the DJ asked what song I wanted to hear from the album, and in frantic mode I screamed “SHUT IT OUT!

The-Fixx-InkThe band was excited that there was true hardcore fan on the line requesting a song not ordained from the label and I was excited that I got to call the shot on a major radio station on my chosen track. I was yammering on relentlessly off air to them while the song was playing, “Thank you so much for playing that song. It will be the best thing that’s happened for them and if people hear this song, it will put them back on the map. It’s perfect.” and more embarrassingly breathless, fanatic rambling.

The band was obviously appreciative of my fanaticism and while off air, lead singer Cy Curnin asked me to make sure that I was front row that night and guitarist Jamie West-Oram asked if I wanted to come to the after-party. Um, of course and yes. I was 23 at the time, but I might as well have been a giddy 14 year old the way I was handling myself.

I got to the show early and of course, front row and beaming. The show started and as Cy Curnin came on stage, I yelled “SHUT IT OUT!” and he came over and slapped me five. My night was officially set at that point. It didn’t even matter if a concert happened. Lucky for me it did and the show was this side of inspiring and full of energy. Pure musical heaven.

Then after the show, I immediately went to the venue where the “after party” would be happening and reality struck as my name was not at the door to get into the event. I sat in disbelief. I should be happy that I got as much attention as I already had. There was plenty of greatness for one evening anyway, but I still stood a bit distraught at the door and after a few minutes I had decided that that was all the evening had in store and to walk away and just be thankful.

I turned to leave and then from around the corner comes running the guitarist Jamie West-Oram who locked eye contact with me, brightly smiled and yelled, “Chris! I was looking for you.”  He then grabbed my arm, walked me to the door and announces to the doorman, “It’s okay. He’s with me.” and to the after party I went.

Needless to say, the remainder of the evening was a 23 year old Mr. Christopher in the most nirvana of places blathering directly to the band and anyone who would listen about how great they were, sitting at the bar with drummer Adam Woods tossing back drinks, and just enjoying the opportunity to hang out with one of my favorite bands of all time.

Over the years, I’ve seen The Fixx many more times than I could count.  They have one fantastic album after another and a multitude of material to pull from, but they’re not an easy band to talk about to friends and co-workers, because no one remembers them. You’re lucky if you can get them to remember One Thing Leads To Another without the need to sing a few bars first. So at the risk of just seeming out of touch or stuck in a time warp, you just relish the fact that you get the privilege to enjoy a fantastic band that everyone else has just missed the boat on.

However, their music is more relevant now than it was even back when it was made. I can’t think of one single album that The Fixx has made that was weak or uninspired. Every album was breathtaking. Even the two albums that I thought I didn’t like that were released in this century have slowly begun to grow on me. It’s amazing how impeccable their material is even to this day.

So if somewhere I have peaked your interest into checking them out, I’ve put together a handpicked playlist of some of my favorite songs that was a bit painstaking because there were a lot of amazing songs that Spotify did not supply such as the Elemental album, their debut album Shuttered Room, the amazing acoustic album 1011 Woodland, and some other deeper cuts like The Fool that just have to be experienced.  I even started it off with Shut It Out so that you could understand what I was so excited about back in the day.

Concert Review

Jamie West-OramAnd now we fast forward over 25 years later to their Atlanta show at the City Winery on August 17, 2017. The show is sold out and luckily as I arrive in the parking lot, out walks Jamie West-Oram from a Binders store with a coffee. The same man who a quarter of a century ago changed my life.

I said hello, calling him by name and he seemed surprised that anyone recognized him. He didn’t recognize me (25 years and 80 pounds later) and I started into my story I told you above. One minute in, I realized there was no facial expression from him to indicate he remembered any of the story, so I left it alone. So is the life of a rock star who meets thousands of people every year. But that’s okay. I got a pic and it means a lot to me and that’s what matters.

I was lucky enough to score a front row seat to this show, albeit behind keyboardist extraordinaire Rupert Greenall, which is a treat in itself to watch him work. I also managed to capture a lot on camera for you to enjoy on AtlantaMusicMarketing.com and they’ll be coming soon. The intimate stage lighting is horrendous in City Winery for photography.

It seems that this time around, The Fixx was fully aware that the people attending this sold out performance were true fans. Even from the vibe felt in the room, it was immediately evident that everyone in attendance were actual fans who had their lives touched at some point by this band. You could see the smiles, the attentiveness, the appreciation, and the sing-alongs happening on lesser known songs.

The evening began with a keyboard intro started from the board and out walks keyboardist Rupert Greenall, bassist Dan K. Brown, and drummer Adam Woods. A little shocking that they walked out in reverent silence as the crowd seemed to just take it all in. Then you could feel the wave of applause begin to fill the room like the holy spirit that slowly came to a roar as guitarist Jamie West-Oram walked out, followed shortly after by lead singer Cy Curnin.

The Fixx Set List - Aug. 17, 2017 City WineryIt became clear that tonight was for the fans as they opened with a track from Reach The Beach called Privilege. The way they integrated their hits throughout the night was refreshing. No waiting until the very end of the night to wad them all of them in hopes of an encore. It would be a great emotional song, a hit, more deep tracks, a hit, some chatter about the state of the world, a deep track, a hit, and essentially a never-ending roller coaster of great selections.

While gone were the 80’s Cy Curnin that would strip off his clothes and paint himself and Jamie West-Oram‘s raucous guitar swings, the intensity was still there and seemingly more important than ever. The passion and realization that the content of the music was more meaningful now than it was back when it was written.

Cy Curnin was always a politically charged and stout vocalist that spoke out on injustice and he did so with a fervor. Back in the 80’s, they had released a hard to find promo called Talkabout where he delved into the meaning of each song on their album called Walkabout. At the time, it made little to no sense and as he described the tracks, the confusion just got worse. It was like listening to the ramblings of a mad man. And even Cy would probably tell you it was. His passion was never misdirected, but it was so overwhelming that it just came out in bulk thoughts. His knowledge was simply so massive, that it couldn’t be digested in small key points.

Tonight, he spent time to briefly put songs in context in this almost living room style show which was in stark contrast to their Germany shows where there was no seating and people were there were to take it all in, yelling and sloshing their beers in a raucous display. This crowd here was calm, reverent and attentive. That nuance wasn’t lost on the band as they realized that they could spend time crafting the songs and painting the picture instead of the need to make sure that the evening was a freight train of entertainment.

Tonight, the crowd stayed glued and there weren’t any wasted moments. But there was an analytical aura happening at City Winery as if people were waiting for information. As of they were watching a news broadcast as they were reeling from the tragedies of Charlottesville, Barcelona, Russia, and the political climate and just wanted answers. Needed answers. Here’s your soapbox. Please take it. This is your forte.

Cy refrained from saying too much because in today’s world, you never know where your audience falls and The Fixx has always ridden the line and somehow managed to be pragmatic, but still in your face at the same time. And looking over the faces of this audience and all of the years that had worn on them, it was near impossible to tell where that line was. But one thing was clear, they were scattered on both sides like a deck of cards thrown into the air.  It was probably why most of the banter was kept to a minimum. Everything that needed to be said was already written into the lyrics of these great songs over the decades.

Whether Cy was gripping the microphone singing his heart out with his hand gestures, Jamie was swinging the guitar, Dan and Adam were managing the bottom end, or Rupert was there creating all of those fantastic sounds and vocal effects from behind his keyboards, the message was clear.  Calm yourselves and loosen your grip. Just take it in and let music heal you.

While the early Cy would have been pro-activism, the Cy here tonight even mentioned from the stage that he wishes he could just forget all of the madness he learned over the years. There comes a time when you just know too much to the point where it just becomes ineffective to share it all. You become disenchanted with the realization that you are never going t be able to accurately communicate what you know to get people to your level. It’s okay. He did a hell of a job.

I can’t begin to describe how healing this show was for me and everyone there. If they make it to your town, it’s worth a visit and to treat yourself with a break. I know it’s not funk, but neither is most of Prince‘s music and that’s what makes this great.

Here are a couple of clips from the show to enjoy, a few photos, a link to the Spotify playlist above for those who want a handpicked musical journey from your truly, and then I’ll top it off with my apologies of this super long post.

The Fixx are very cathartic to my existence and it still speaks to me as I know it will for you as well.

Interview: NPG’s Damon D and Tony M

Posted by funkatop On June - 27 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
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DamonD TonyM

Some first came to know of Tony M and Damon D as they danced during Purple Rain through The Time‘s Jungle Love and The Bird on the balcony of the famed First Avenue.  But since they were shrouded in lights and afforded only silhouettes, most wouldn’t know them until Tony M was rapping at spitfire pace during Prince‘s Love Symbol album or on  Diamond and Pearls and as both Damon and Tony would grace the recordings of many a NPG album and end up part of Prince history.

Listen in as Funkatopia‘s Mr. Christopher interviews Damon D as he tells the story of landing that fateful Purple Rain appearance and Prince’s quest for perfection. Then later joined by Tony M as they both share Prince stories and discuss the impending NPG reunion shows and how they feel about being categorized as a tribute band.

Review: Prince – Purple Rain Deluxe Edition

Posted by funkatop On June - 26 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
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Mr. Christopher does a full extended review of the new Prince release Purple Rain Deluxe. Chris talks about each CD and the DVD, but takes an amazing amount of time  on the 2nd CD (The Vault and Previously Unreleased disk) and gives the background stories and feedback on each and every track.

The video review gives you the full monty, so tune in and enjoy!

Buy the new album today and support Paisley Park to keep the music coming:
Get it here! http://amzn.to/2rRRZzN

Get it here! http://amzn.to/2rRRZzN

Support the park!

Sheila E. Needs Your Help!

Posted by funkatop On June - 8 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
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Sheila E - Iconic Project

Easily one of the most incredible drummers on the planet, Sheila E. has done it all. So it makes us very ecstatic that she’s back to do even more with her new project called ICONIC.

Sheila E. pushed a new politically charged project called ICONIC through Pledge Music that allows you to not only grab a copy of the album, but also get a wealth of great “thank you” gifts for your contributions at super affordable price points. You can get a signed drum head, drumsticks, cymbals, CD’s, shirts, and even all the way up to private moments such as dinner with Sheila, a private studio tour, and all types of instruments. Many of which are under $100.  But as of this writing, the project still hasn’t reached its goal in order for the album to see the light of day,

ICONIC is Sheila E‘s brand new album that features what she refers to as the greatest protest and revolution songs of our time that are reimagined as only she can imagine them. While the concept sounded very similar to the Wake Up! project that John Legend performed with The Roots years back, it became immediately evident that this was a very different conceptualization once Sheila released a teaser video featuring Prince‘s barn burner America.

Sheila was in a very difficult point in her life as she was mourning the death of good friend and once fiancé Prince and then the election of Donald Trump.  The anger that welled up inside of her came bubbling to the top and she knew that she had to use that emotion to create something that would make a difference.

“I was mourning Prince, I was mourning our country,” Escovedo said in her feathery tone. “This person who comes into office through bullying – it was just overwhelming. I cried a lot. I still often cry a lot. It’s just the way I heal.”

The end result led her to backburner the dance record she had been working on and ask the world to help her put together the ICONIC project and bring the imagining to fruition.  It featured a breathtaking track listing that made the project even more exciting as it showcased a plethora of songs covering Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, and an unrelenting list of music history’s most prolific and “iconic” freedom fighters.

Most notably are guests like The BeatlesRingo Starr, Candy Dulfer doing the horns on Prince‘s America, Sly and The Family Stone’s Freddie Stone helping to cover Everyday People, One Nation Under a Groove with the man himself, George Clinton on deck and tons more.

Head to the Pledge Music page right now here and help Sheila E get to the goal to make this project happen.

ICONIC Track List

1. “Everyday People” (featuring Freddie Stone)
2. “Come Together” (featuring Ringo Starr)
3. “One Nation Under A Groove / Mothership Connection” (George Clinton)
4. “Jesus Children Of America” (featuring Israel Houghton)
5. “America” (featuring Candy Dulfer)
6. “Inner City Blues / Trouble Man”
7. “Funky National Anthem”
8. “The Ghetto”
9. “Pusherman”
10. “Blackbird”
11. “Respect Yourself”
12. “What The World Needs Now”
13. “Yes We Can Can”
14. James Brown Medley

And be sure to check out this amazing article with Rolling Stone that has some fantastic Prince stories you’ve certainly never heard along with the full 7 minute version of America exclusively on their site. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/premieres/sheila-e-on-princes-wooing-wild-purple-rain-parties-w486152

Prince: Another Lonely Birthday. For Us.

Posted by funkatop On June - 6 - 2017 5 COMMENTS
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Funkatopia’s Mr. Christopher reflects on Prince’s death over a year later as we celebrate his 2nd birthday without him;

Prince - Photo by Robert WhitmanIt’s Prince’s birthday again on June 7th. Over a year has passed since his passing and I’m still not really “OK.” I mean, I’m fine, but it still upsets me a lot which is hard to comprehend.

I still have to catch my breath when I think about it. I remember where I was sitting when I heard about his passing. I remember my phone ringing off the hook from friends and family checking in on me.

I had met Prince a few times and he’s been in my life for as long as I can remember. I got to sing alongside him and dance on stage, but I didn’t have any personal relationship with him where we sip cognac in front of a fire and talk about world issues. But then I wondered, did he ever have that type of relationship with anyone once he became famous? Maybe his wife, right? Maybe.

Prince photo by Steve Parke (http://www.steveparke.com/)It makes me mad that he’s gone, because I was literally striving to get closer to him musically. To have him hear my music. To work with him in some capacity. To be in that circle of friends, even if it were the outer, outer circle. And when I shared all of the experiences that I actually did have with him, people get jealous and tell me how lucky I was to even get those moments. So I try to focus on the happy moments since it’s his birthday again.

The afterparty in Atlanta was one of my happy moments. He had just performed at Woodruff Arts Center on April 4th and now it was the wee hours of the morning on April 5, 2001. The club was eleven50 and the place was packed like sardines. There was nowhere to stand near the front of the stage except in the aisle on the side of the stage next to Renato Neto‘s keyboards. So that’s where I stood.

It was almost time for the show to start and I heard the crowd screaming. I couldn’t see the front of the stage, so I became agitated, when out walks Prince right in front of me to play on Renato’s keys. I could touch him without even extending my arm. He was right there in front of me.

I was trying to comprehend that I was right next to Prince while he played keyboards. It was an instrumental jam, so I began singing and riffing along with him. Then I saw his head cock in my direction like he was trying to hear me better and wanted me to sing louder. So I did. And then I saw a smile creep across his face as he turned and locked eyes with me. He kept playing and intently watching me sing while bobbing his head.

Prince - Photographer unknownThis went on for 10 seconds with him staring directly into my eyes, which felt like an eternity. It was like he was analyzing my soul. Then he reached out, slapped me five, put his hand on my shoulder, spun away from the keyboard, and he was gone.

There were hundreds there in the building, but for that 15 seconds, it was just us riffing and anything else that may have been going on was non-existent.  This was one of a few mind-tattooing moments that I would have with him moving forward, but by far one of the most musically intimate.

Next year (2018) will mark 40 years in the industry when his first album For You hit the market in 1978. 40 years. And he was a nonstop writing machine who could play all of the instruments right from the beginning. It takes the better part of 3 days just to play his released material 24/7. And when you include all of his unreleased material, it’s the better part of a week.  We know because we’ve done it on FUNKEDUP.

Matter of fact, it’s why FUNKEDUP even exists. June marks the one year anniversary of the FUNKEDUP app that was created because I wanted to do something special for Prince’s birthday and there simply was nothing. So I created it. A radio station that could be listened to anywhere in the world 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. And a year later, it’s still very heavily Prince, but just like Prince would have wanted, it also showcases other artists that you should know. And still commercial free.

Prince - Photo by Steve Parke (http://www.steveparke.com)Since 1979, Prince has performed, on record, 1,181 shows and that doesn’t include afterparties. If each of those shows were 2 hours in length and you listened to them back to back without resting, it would take you 98 days straight to get through them all.

Also on record, he additionally performed 642 afterparties. If each of those was an hour in length, go ahead and add another 27 days of straight listening. That’s over 4 months of listening to his performances 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with no commercial interruptions.

Oh and let’s not forget his involvement in all of those other bands. The Time, The Family, Vanity 6, Appolonia 6, Mazarati, Sheila E., Madhouse, Tamar, Carmen Electra, NPG, NPG Orchestra, Bria Valente, Liv Warfield, Judith Hill, Andy Allo, and never mind. You get it.

What other musician gave so much of himself not only directly, but unto others to help them blossom as artists? The reality is that if you had access to everything he had ever worked on, performed, recorded or touched, you’d be stuck in a chair for most likely years. A fate that we would all take upon ourselves if given the chance.

Knowing that he had so much more music to share even beyond what he already had vaulted away for us, is truly a travesty. So many more opportunities to possibly cross his path or shake his hand. It’s heartbreaking. He never wanted us to celebrate his birthday, but to celebrate his death as he passed on to the “next level.” But we still use his birthday to reflect on all that he gave us and it was plenty. We are truly the stingiest fans on the planet to have demanded so much from one man, but he was the most gracious by giving us as much as he did. That’s why Prince is king.

The lives he touched is immeasurable. Yours. Mine. He created music that made you cry, made you think, made you re-assess yourself as a musician or performer. The echelon. The pinnacle. Happy birthday. Rest in peace.

PLEASE share your thoughts or any personal moments you had with Prince below in the comments. This is where we share out memories, thoughts and prayers.

One MusicFest Announces 2017 Lineup

Posted by funkatop On June - 5 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
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Jill Scott One MusicfestThe annual new soul music festival One MusicFest announced the lineup in Atlanta for 2017 which includes headliner Jill Scott, a farewell performance from yasiin bey (aka Mos Def), Damian Marley, Sean Paul, Thundercat, Too $hort, Jidenna and tons more.

The event will primarily take place at Lakewood Amphitheater on Saturday September 9th, but a few acts will perform on Friday September 8th at The Tabernacle including Thundercat, J.I.D., NONAME, and Ari Lennox. Advance tickets are already available for sale on the website at http://www.onemusicfest.com.

The festival has always been insanely full of amazing acts and this year is no different.  2016 showcased a complete Dungeon Family reunion, Erykah Badu, Anderson.paak, Busta Rhymes, Gary Clark Jr. and others, so we were certainly interested to see where they would go from there.

OMF announced the lineup in a private event on June 5th in downtown Atlanta and obviously there is no letting up. This year they chose Jill Scott as their powerhouse headliner and paired up the top billing with yasiin bey‘s absolute final performance in Atlanta. yasiin bey announced that he would be retiring from the music business and would relocate to Africa to focus on an arts, culture and lifestyle collective that he’s titled A Country Called Earth.

But also in the lineup is reggae bookends Damien Marley and Sean Paul which will bring the Jamaican flavor and as always, One Musicfest will sprinkle the evening with other great acts including Jidenna, Kaytranada, Too $hort, Ro James, and Tank and the Bangas. Not to mention a massive lineup of DJ’s.

Whatever you do, you should strive to get to this event because the energy is always fierce and palpable and the music is pure, driven funk and soul with dashes of hip hop goodness. Get your tickets here now.

One MusicFest 2017 Atlanta lineup

EXCLUSIVE LISTEN! PHO’s New Album Two Preview

Posted by funkatop On May - 10 - 2017 2 COMMENTS
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PHOalbumFunkatopia is your EXCLUSIVE home of the debut preview launch of PHO‘s new album Two where you get to hear the album two days before its official release.

After being discovered by Prince on Youtube, the band was asked to come to Paisley Park and open for the legendary Larry Graham. The event went so well that Prince took to Twitter and announced “Come back anytime. Just holla.”

The band then began work on their sophomore album Two at Pachyderm Studio in Minnesota under the production of John Davis who has been at the helm of many incredible albums like Fly by Lettuce and Eric Krasno leading to one of the most funkiest collections in years.

Mr. Christopher joined PHO to discuss the new album and more about their journey. Enjoy the interview and the exclusive preview of their full album below.  Click here to pre-Order the album now!

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